Where Should You Live? Here’s How To Decide
Whether you’re looking for a more rewarding job, lower cost of living, better educational opportunities, or just a fresh start, there may come a time in your life when you’re eager to move to someplace new. You may be ready for new adventures and new experiences, willing to take on new challenges and opportunities, or keen to meet new people and make new friends. But even though you may want to move, you may not be sure where to move to.
Choosing where to move is a big decision; the place where you will live will define your world and influence all aspects of your life. You need to make the right choice if you’re to build a bright future and a happy life for yourself.
But how to know where to move to? How to pick the perfect place to live?
Here is a deep dive analysis of the most important considerations (and proper course of action) that will help you find the best city for you.
Determine What Is Most Important to You
The first thing to do when deciding where to move is to assess your lifestyle, determine your needs, and specify your preferences. Think about what’s most important to you: what you really want, what is a must, and what is desirable but nonessential.
Do you want to live in a big bustling city? Or would you prefer a small town in a rural area? What about a quiet suburb that will give you access to the amenities and cultural opportunities of large cities?
- If you’re a recent graduate, a lively city with plenty of job opportunities and vibrant nightlife might be the ideal location for your next home.
- If you have children, you’ll need a big home, in a safe and green area, and near a good school; moving to the suburbs may be your best option.
- If you’re moving after retirement, you’ll most likely wish to live in a peaceful area with warm climate, some hobbies that interest you, and good healthcare.
Take some time to consider what really matters to you (a thriving job market so you can catapult your career, a community that reflects your values, an opportunity to pursue your interests, etc.) and what will be best for your family (safety, low cost of living, good educational system, quality healthcare, closeness to nature, friendly community, etc.) so you know what to look for when choosing where to live.
Factors to Consider When Deciding Where to Move
The decision where to live should be approached with a lot of care and consideration. From your job prospects and living costs to weather conditions and social opportunity, you need to take everything into account, as even the smallest thing can make a big difference to your life and your future. Granted, some considerations may weigh heavier than others in different stages of your life, but you shouldn’t just ignore any of them. You also want to be sure to think more than just a year or two ahead. While your main consideration is obviously for the immediate future, you also want to consider what your life might be like in five to ten years from now. While none of us can predict the future, thinking five to ten years ahead can put into perspective whether you should look at this destination as more of a temporary place, or if it will be a place that you’ll be planning to put down roots.
Your job prospects and income potential will be a decisive factor in choosing where to move. You’ll want to go to a place where you’ll have a chance to advance in your career or to establish a business of your own.
It is therefore a good idea to research opportunities within your industry and identify locations where there is a concentration of companies in your field or where your professional skills are in high demand. You need to know that you will be able to easily find a job (or start a business) in your new town or city and that your income will be at least as high as the median for the area.
No matter how good a job you have and how much you earn, your money will go much further in some places than it will in others. And since you (no doubt) want to be able to live comfortably in your new area, affordability should be among your first concerns when deciding where to live.
“Affordability” refers to everything from your housing costs and living expenses to taxes and insurance. Lots of different factors go into what’s considered the “affordability” of an area.
- Cost of Living – The cost of goods and services (groceries, utilities, transportation, medical care, education, clothing, entertainment, etc.) vary greatly from state to state and city to city and define the living standards in an area. The higher the cost of living, the more money you’re going to need in order to be able to support yourself and your family and lead a high quality life. Keep in mind, though, that expensive places are expensive because they are highly desirable for a variety of reasons. The cities with the greatest career opportunities and rich cultural scenes are the costliest to live in, while the more affordable places have less to offer in terms of job prospects and cultural activities.
- Real Estate Market – The available housing options and the median home price in an area (as well as the resale value of homes) must be carefully considered when choosing where to live. You need to be able to afford buying/renting a home that suits your needs and preferences: appropriate size and type of dwelling, convenient location, good neighborhood, etc. You also want to consider whether you will be able to sell the property without losing money if you decide to move again.
- Taxes – State taxes (sales taxes, income taxes, property taxes) and other local taxes should also be taken into account when choosing a place to live as they will affect your finances and investments.
- Climate – The climate in your new area will have a great impact on your lifestyle as it will determine what kind of outdoor activities you can enjoy, which clothes and equipment you’re going to need, how comfortable you’re going to be in your new surroundings, etc. Even your daily activities and mental health will be affected by the weather; you may need to spend an hour digging your car out of the snow in the morning, may feel depressed when the skies are overcast, etc. And some types of climate may have a negative effect on your health. So climate will definitely factor into the equation when deciding where to move next. So, when asking yourself, “Where should I move?” be sure to look into the average temperatures, humidity levels, and precipitation rates in an area. Consider any weather-related natural disasters that are common in that part of the country (large storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.) and avoid climates that may aggravate any health conditions you may have.
- Safety – There is some amount of crime everywhere, but crime rates are quite different in different states and cities, so it’s important to check an area’s crime statistics when deciding where to live. Identify the risk of personal and property crime for a city, consider the police presence and activity in an area, and be aware of the warning signs of vandalism, drug dealing, and other nefarious deeds in a neighborhood, so you can find a safe place to call home.
- Commute Times and Transportation Options – Commute time has a big impact on daily life, so you should really consider the traffic patterns and transportation options in an area before making your final decision to move there. Keep in mind that traffic will be lighter in the country and in smaller towns, but you may need to frequently drive to the nearest metropolitan areas to access amenities and services. Moving to the suburbs while working in the city will result in long daily commutes. If you choose to live in a big city, you’ll have to deal with heavy traffic and parking issues on a daily basis. When looking for a new city to move to, focus on places that have good public transportation systems; efficient public transport makes it easier and cheaper to get around and helps cut down on commute time.
- Education System – If you have children you will want them to go to a good school and be able to pursue their interests, so the educational opportunities in an area will be of primary importance for your decision where to live. You’ll need to examine the public school system, research school districts, and find out what extracurricular activities are offered, so you can pick a place that will provide a safe, friendly, and stimulating learning environment for your kids and will help them develop their potential. Thinking about moving to a place that doesn’t have great schools? Be sure to look at your private school options and pick a place that will be close to one that you’re interested in.
- Healthcare – Quality healthcare improves the physical, psychological and emotional well being of the population, so when choosing a new place to live be sure to look for towns and cities with good hospitals and good medical care facilities. Easy access to healthcare is especially important for children and older adults, so senior citizens and families with kids should make certain to move to an area where good medical services are readily available.
- Culture and Lifestyle – Each town and city has its own cultural scene and different places offer different social opportunities; you need to find the right match for your lifestyle. Consider your hobbies, interests, and desires and think about where you’ll be able to follow your passions, practice your favorite activities, and lead a comfortable enjoyable life. If you appreciate diversity, thrive in a dynamic and progressive environment, and want a wide range of recreational and entertainment options, you should move to a bustling urban setting. If you cherish nature, crave peace and quiet, and enjoy outdoor activities, you won’t be happy stuck in a large metropolitan area; moving to the country or to the mountains may be the best choice for you. If you love art and music, you should opt for a major city that offers plenty of cultural experiences. If you’re into sports and games, you may want to be near your favorite team and live in an area where many sports events take place or where you’ll be able to practice your favorite sport all year round. Whatever you love, you need to be able to enjoy it in your new town or city, or you will never be truly satisfied and happy there. You need to find a place where the culture reflects your values, where you’ll have the opportunity to pursue your recreational passions, and where you’ll be surrounded by people who have similar interests and beliefs as you. Then you’ll feel comfortable in your new environment, will easily make new friends, and will relish your new life.
- Family and Friends – Last but not least, you need to consider the people in your life when deciding where to move. If extended family and friends are important to you, if you want to see them often, spend time with them, and be together on holidays and special occasions, you shouldn’t move too far away from where they live. It will cost you a lot of time and money to visit your loved ones if your new home is halfway across the country. If, on the contrary, you’d rather not see your family very often, you might want to move as far away as possible. If you are in your golden years, moving near your children and grandchildren can bring you lots of joy and give you peace of mind as you’ll be able to count on your family if you need help as you age. Depending on your current situation, your relationships, your need for a support system, and your preferred lifestyle, proximity to family and friends will play a big role in your choice of where to live.
How to Choose a City
Having thought through all the relevant factors and determined what really matters to you, you will know what kind of place you should move to: a peaceful rural area, a vibrant large city, a coastal town, a warm southern state, a location that is a hub for your industry, etc. But where exactly should you live? How to choose a new city and make it right for you:
1. Make a list of the most important features you need in your area (excellent job prospects, low cost of living, warm climate, good public schools, etc.) and the characteristics you’d like to have (lovely parks, sunny beaches, good restaurants, vivid nightlife, rich cultural scene, plentiful entertainment venues, lots of hiking trails, etc.).
2. Research your options. Peruse city guides and use various online resources to find out which cities might meet your needs and preferences.
3. Create a spreadsheet with three columns: cities, needs, and wants. Assign values that show how well a city suits each of your requirements from 10 (if the city offers exactly what you need/want) to 0 (if the city completely lacks the feature).
4. Take a closer look at the cities with the highest scores and consider the trade-offs. No place will have it all; you’ll have to give up something for another (if you want to live close to nature, you’ll have to go without the conveniences of the big city, if you want your kids to go to a good school, you’ll have to budget in an expensive neighborhood, etc.).
5. Narrow down your choice to three or four places that best suit your needs and desires. Visit each of them and, if possible, spend an extended vacation there to get a feel on the area before making your final choice.
6. Pick the city that appeals to you the most and move there. Find an appropriate place to buy or to rent so you feel at home right from the start.
One Last Piece of Advice
Home is where the heart is, as you know. So, when not sure where to move, just follow your heart; it’s certain to find the right place for you.