Whether it’s for work, school, adventure, or simply because of wanderlust, odds are you are going to move at some point. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, most people in the United States move 11.7 times in their lifetime. With all of this mobility, you could pick a place and hope for the best or, with a bit of forethought and planning, you can significantly increase your chances at picking a place you'll love. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you move:
#1. Am I Moving for the Right Reasons?
Unless you have a compelling reason for moving, such as a corporate transfer or a new job that you’ve had your sights on, begin by asking yourself a few questions, to make sure you are indeed making the right decision.
- How do you feel about moving? It’s normal to feel nervous or worried, but if you’re totally dreading it you might want to rethink.
- Can you afford it? You’ll probably need money for moving and housing costs and you might need to support yourself while looking for a job. The cost of living could be higher as well.
- What will you miss? Whether it’s your friends or that favorite mountain bike trail, are you willing to try living without it?
- What if you don’t move? What will you miss out on? What would you always wonder about?
#2. Can I afford it?
Wages, employment and cost of living are three factors that will tell you how far your money will go in your new town. Looking to move to San Francisco? Be ready for sticker shock--it's one of the most expensive places in the U.S. But are you willing to be within a one-hour commute to “the city by the bay”? If so, you’re housing affordability just improved! You can compare the cost of living between cities using various websites, such as Best Places, at http://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/.
#3. What's the job market like?
If you’re fortunate to be moving with a job offer on the table then congratulations are in order! You’ve already navigated one of the most difficult challenges of a move. However, if you plan on looking for employment after making your move, it’s a good idea to do your research beforehand. CareerBuilder.com offers several online resources to help determine what the job market looks like in various cities across the U.S. For an objective outlook on various job sectors across the U.S., visit the website of the United States Department of Labor.
#4. Four Seasons or the Sun Belt?
Many people feel the need for four distinct seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall. Others simply do not do well in a climate that has hotter than hot summer temps, such as parts of Arizona and Texas. Still, some just don’t want to be faced with shoveling snow drifts in order to get their car out of the driveway. Depending on your weather comfort zone, it’s wise to do your research and know what type of weather you can expect to have prior to committing to a new location. There are several good sources of information available with updated statistics. Again, BestPlaces.net offers an intuitive website to help compare climates from all over the U.S.
#5. What about schools?
If you're moving with children, learning about school districts in your new city is paramount. Local Realtors are well-versed in neighborhood schools and can help match your housing preferences with your child's educational needs. Many times you will find significant differences in the quality of schools, including teaching philosophy and curriculum from one school district to another. And although schools may not necessarily be the only factor in your new location, they will undoubtedly be high on the priority list. Check out the National Center for Education Statistics for an updated analysis on data related to education. Another excellent source is Great Schools, a national non-profit that provides ratings for each school as well as test scores, information on programs, and reviews covering teacher quality, parental involvement and principal leadership. While there a many factors to consider when contemplating a move, careful planning will help ensure a smooth move and transition. And because moving is often one of life’s most daunting, anxious challenges, it makes sense to do your homework prior to making a final decision. If you’ve already decided on a move and are wondering if that “diamond in the rough” is the right buy, check out is your home a fixer-upper or a money pit for some timely tips.