How Do I Figure Out Where I Want To Live?
If you’re looking for a new place to live, the amount of options can be overwhelming for most people. Whether you’re a professional looking to move into an area with great job prospects or to a quiet area to get away from it all, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. In this guide, we’ll take a look at a number of factors to consider when choosing your next home.
The affordability of an area is a major factor when deciding where to live. As a general rule, the more desirable the area, the higher the home values and rates of rent will be. Urban areas tend to be more expensive due to a reduced commute, proximity to stores, easier access to services, and entertainment options - all of which may be limited in suburban and rural communities.
On a similar note, affordability also encompasses the total expenses and cost-of-living incurred while living in an area. The cost of public transportation, groceries, durable goods, and healthcare are all factors that should be weighed when deciding on the right location. Slight changes in the cost of living can add up before you know it, leaving less income to save and spend.
One of the primary reasons why people choose to move to a new location is for job opportunities. Despite the rise of remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many types of employment still require individuals to show up in person. Therefore, location still plays a major part in how people are employed throughout the United States.
Some primary indicators of a favorable job market include major companies relocating to the area, proximity to urban areas, larger populations, and so forth. Before making a move, it’s important to do an assessment of analyzing which industries are prevalent in the area. For instance, if you work in IT, you may have more options than those that work in healthcare - an industry that’s dictated by population size and the number of healthcare facilities.
The last factor for job opportunities is that assess income levels for jobs in the area. Workers tend to earn more where overall cost of living is high and demand is high for a position. Some states make it easier for certain occupations to move to an area by offering grants depending on the industry. More commonly, STEM jobs offer a wide range of grants by state that offer incentives to attract more workers, such as lower taxes, rebates on home purchases, and more.
Just about no one wants to live in a high-crime area. And while it would be great to live in a safe area that’s impervious to crime, understand that this is one factor that you may need to compromise on.
When deciding on which areas have low crime now or in the future, you will want to use municipal or state resources to research recent crime statistics. Areas that are in a high-crime area may be economically depressed, which means cheaper costs of living. And if the development trajectory of a location is on the up, you may be able to select a place that gentrifies, increasing home values while enjoying a reduction in crime.
To determine which areas are safe or magnets for crime, use city-data.com. City-Data features up to date crime statistics and an interactive map that highlights high-crime areas. Even if you live in a high-crime area, you can choose safer neighborhoods.
Proximity to Friends and Family
Choosing to move can be influenced by how close you are to your friends and family. Drastic moves across the country may put you too far away to maintain close relationships, so you may want to think twice. Unless you are prepared to travel frequently to stay in touch, you may want to choose a closer locale that’s within a reasonable distance to stay in touch.
The general climate of an area is a major factor for livability when choosing a new area to live. Areas that experience extreme weather often require more expenses for heating and cooling, as well as headaches that other areas don’t experience. For example, you may need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to drive in an area with lots of snow.
On the flipside, climate is a type of bonus for living in an area. If you’re a beachgoer, coastal areas may offset drawbacks of an area. Areas that feature great year-round weather are often heavily populated, such as West Coast states like California, Oregon, and Washington.
If you are planning on attending secondary education or have children that will attend school in the near future, choosing an area with a good education system is a must. As a general rule, home values and rent tend to be more expensive near top-performing schools and colleges versus locales with challenged schools. And on a related note, areas with good education systems tend to be lower in crime.
If you’re curious about learning more about assessing the quality of education in a given area, nonprofit websites like SchoolDigger GreatSchools are excellent resources for searching by city, town, and neighborhood.