Choosing a place to live is daunting. I’ll be relocating with my husband soon, and trying to come up with where we are heading next is overwhelming. There are many reasons you might be considering a move to a different city, state, or even country. Looking for a change of scenery, more job opportunities, wanting a change in climate, to be closer to family or friends, wanting to do a career change, and relocation for work are just a few of the reasons why people may want to move.
But before you pack up and head out, there are many things to consider. Where you choose to move will change your finances since where you live directly impacts how much you are spending, earning, and even what you are spending your money on. There are definitely better location options for your finances than others.
Here are six things to consider before choosing your next place to live.
6 Things to Consider Before Moving
- Cost of Living.
Anytime I traveled this past summer, I would quickly look up how much an apartment was to rent at whatever location I was in. I still can’t get over that I can get a studio apartment on the North Side of Chicago for upwards of $2,000, but I can get a three bedroom, two bath townhouse in parts of Wyoming for $500. The cost of living in areas can be drastically different depending where you look. Generally, urban areas are going to be much more expensive than rural areas. Besides rent or the cost of a house, everything from gas, groceries, entertainment, transportation, restaurants, and other items are also impacted by an area’s cost of living. Bankrate.com has a Cost of Living comparison calculator where you can compare the cost of living in two different areas. Other things to look at are prices of apartments and houses on Trulia.com, Apartments.com, or Rent.com.
- Job Outlook.
Just as much as the cost of living changes from place to place, so does the job outlook. Your college major or field will often dictate where you’ll move. If you’re in the fashion industry, chances are you are not going to find much of a job outlook in an extremely rural part of Kansas. If you are a dentist, moving to a small town that already has a dentist can be rough as well. Explore job search sites like Monster and Career Builder to see what types of jobs are offered in certain areas. Also go on to a city’s Craigslist to see what job opportunities are posted to give you a better idea of what’s available.
Coming from Chicago, seeing a place where rent was a fourth of what I would pay and gas that was dollars less, my first thought is instantly, we’d be crazy not to live here. But that is not the whole story in some locations. Yes, the cost of living might be significantly lower, but then there is the chance that what you are earning will be taking a dive as well. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers an interactive map detailing what the average salary and income is for various professions by state and region.
How you get to work and get around town is something to consider when moving. If you don’t want to purchase a car and all the costs of having a car, you need to see if a city is walkable or how the public transportation system is. Living in Chicago, I am able to get by without a car because I can easily take the bus and train that run often. But if a city doesn’t have public transportation, you need to have another option. On Google Maps, map out your potential address to the grocery store, your prospective job, and other areas to see if it is possible to walk. Find out what the city’s bicycle policy is. In Fort Collins, CO., bicycles are more common than cars so bike lanes are common throughout the city. But if you need a car, consider how much car insurance costs in that state and how prevalent parking is. Also, check out Gas Buddy’s map of the average gas costs throughout the country. If you look, you’ll notice there are parts of New York and California where gas is much more expensive than in some Southern states.
Sure, jobs, income, cost of living, and income are important, but so is your quality of life. Before you move somewhere, you need to know what there is to do out there. Consider what you like to do for fun. If you love the beach and surfing on the ocean, living in the Midwest probably isn’t going to make you very happy. If you love art museums, theater, and other culturally rich activities, you may want to stick to a city. The best way to see what a place really has to offer as far as activities, is visiting their Official Tourism website. Most cities, regions, states, and even counties will have a site, and you can even request a paper copy. This is where you’re going to see the types of dining and nightlife scene there is, shopping, museums, outdoor activities, and everything else there is to do.
- Safety and Health Issues.
To me, the top of my list is safety. Check out City-Data for a break down of the crime in the area. You can compare crime rates from that area to the national average and also find out what types of crimes are being committed.
The best thing to do to prepare yourself is to first make a list of everything that is important to you in a place to live. Then, you need to devote time for a lot of research. Don’t forget to consider things like the weather and climate year round, proximity to an interstate highway and an airport, if there is a major hospital nearby, and other items you may initially overlook. Besides the above issues and above websites I suggested, visit the library to read any books on the area. Almost every city has an online newspaper which is a great way to see what types of things occur there. Check out local publications as well.
Which places do you think are the most affordable to live?