Change is an overwhelming prospect, even if it is completely voluntary. It's much more intense when you're racing against a deadline like yours.first day at new jobor beginning of the school year. Few ventures require so many quick decisions—or raise so many questions.
One thing you definitely don't want to question is where you decide to move. Whether you're a location-independent professional who starts by choosingThe best places to live and work remotelyor simply looking for the ideal area to live near where you work, this important decision will shape your life for years to come.
What to consider when choosing a place to live
Of course, this choice involves a lot of considerations - over a dozen in total. Some, like accessibility and employment opportunities, are obvious and almost universal in their applicability. Others, like food choices and weather, seem less important next to dollar-and-cents issues like where you get your paycheck and how far you make it. But they can still drastically affect your quality of life and overall long-term well-being.
pro tip: Does your job allow you to work remotely? So you can work from anywhere in the world. companies likedistant yearwill help you find a place to live, your own work and different experiences in the chosen country.
Wealth is relative. according to a2020 study commissioned by Money Crashers, more than 25% of Americans equate wealth with financial security, regardless of income. Another 27% define wealth in terms of quality of life and not finances.
Still, most of us would rather have more money to spend and save — or at least some wiggle room in our budgets. This is where affordability comes in, arguably the most important factor for people to move.
In this context, “affordability” encompasses the total cost of living — not just housing costs, but expenses such as utilities, groceries, transportation, durable goods, and health care. The less you spend on health, the cheaper your dream home will be.
I've never lived in a truly priceless place, but I've seen firsthand that seemingly small changes in the cost of living can add up. Moving from a smaller manufacturing town in the industrial Midwest to a major metropolitan area with a primarily service-based economy effectively reduced my pay — which didn't change thanks to remote work — by 20%, mostly due to higher living standards and transportation costs.
Curious how far your salary could go in a new place? Use Best Places'cost of living calculatorto get a rough estimate.
It's impossible to avoid taxes entirely, but moving to the right place can reduce your overall tax burden. For example,five statesdo not loadCUBA: Alasca, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire e Oregon.nine statesgive upincome taxon most or all sources of income: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.
However, sales and income taxes are not the only types of taxes to consider. Various taxes - such as property taxes, school taxes, gasoline taxes and business taxes and fees - can affect your results to a greater or lesser extent.
To quantify this impact on your next address, see the Fiscal Foundationstate tax burdenReport. It calculates what taxpayers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia pay in state and local taxes.
The most recent report, using data from the 2017 fiscal year, identifies the District of Columbia as the highest tax jurisdiction in the United States, followed by New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Dakota and Hawaii. Alabama has the lowest state tax burden, followed by Tennessee, Arizona, South Carolina and Oklahoma.
Fortunately, most states offer property tax credits orExceptions for householdsto give additional tax breaks to homeowners.
3. Employment opportunities
Employment opportunities remain a crucial and often determining factor in decisions about where to live. But it's not as central to the issue as it used to be.
Profitable employment is increasingly location-independent.digital nomadsall you need is a decent workspace, a reliable laptop and a fast internet connection to start earning good money from anywhere. However, many individuals and families decide to move for professional reasons.
Job opportunities vary from state to state and city to city, so take the time to research job markets in different areas. Start by looking at high-quality job opportunities in your industry and determine where the highest concentration of those jobs is.
If you are (or want to be) an investment banker, you probably need to live in a big city like New York or Boston. If your skills are transferable - say you're a teacher or an accountant - you have a much better chance of finding work wherever you decide to move.
However, income levels for jobs can vary significantly from state to state. All other things being equal, workers tend to earn more in places where the cost of living is high or where competition for their talent is fierce (or both).
For example, a marketing manager in San Diego, California, could earn 30% more than their counterpart in Salt Lake City, Utah. But the difference may be down to the towering homes of Southern California andfuel prices. Make sure you do your research before you move - and ideally, find a job before you move.
4. Property value
With property values constantly changing, homebuyers can't afford not to understand their new city's housing market. At a minimum, research current property prices and short-term property price trends, how long the properties have been for sale on the market, whether and for how much the property is selling above or below the asking price, and likely performance. long-term.
Also, carefully review local property price trends. Use sites likeZilow,Trulia, ERotflossetake control of the placereal estate market. Or take a paid subscriptionneighborhood scoutif you really want to get the best return possible (and certainly if that's what you intend to doinvest in local real estateto generate passive income).
The cost of real estate is important even if you don't plan on buying a home right away. You still need to make room for rent in your monthly budget. Thoroughly researching prevailing rental rates before moving (or even deciding to move) will ensure you find an affordable apartment - or avoid moving to a new city you really can't afford.
If you plan on staying for a while, maybe rent for a few years until you save asufficient depositto your first home. At thebuyer markets, where the rent value rate for the home is low, you don't have to save as much for that down payment. You'll also start building equity in your new home much faster.
5. Crime rates and statistics
No one wants to live in a high-crime area, but that doesn't mean everyone can live in a utopian society where crime never occurs. Use city or state resources to look up crime statistics in whatever city, town, or neighborhood you have your eye on.
for example theNew York Police Departmentmaintains a comprehensive database of citywide and county-level crime reports that, while quite data-rich, can help laypeople understand crime rates and trends in different areas. Reputable private sources such asCity Data, can also help, but they are not always reliable.
But just because an area is safe today doesn't mean it will be safe in the future, or vice versa. The long-term stability of a neighborhood can be a determining factor in the safety of your neighborhood.
Also consider the development path of a given location when narrowing your choices. for example duringgentrificationhas serious disadvantages, such as displacement of low-income residents and local prosperity, according to data from theUS Department of Housing and Urban Development.
6. Closeness to family and friends
If you value time with family and close friends, you might want to think twice about straying too far from them. Driving across state lines to meet on vacation (or just because) takes time, and flying is a source of stress and a significant drain on tight budgets.
If you want a change of scenery or scenery that doesn't take too much out of your pocket, consider proximity.Universityorresortswith strong and diverse local economies.
For many of us, the climate is a decisive factor in the quality of life. If you're into winter sports, build yourself in a location where there's plenty - or at least where it's physically possible. Think Colorado or Vermont, not Texas or Georgia.
Likewise, if you prefer the beach to the slopes and want to be able togo on a bikecozy in January, then the sun belt is right for you.
It is worth noting that the weather affects more than just our physical well-being, mental health, hobbies and clothes. It often shapes the local economy and therefore also employment and relocation decisions.
8. Educational system
For parents, the value of living close to quality schools is clear. But even childless singles and couples should consider the local education system when choosing where to live.
All other things being equal, housing values in good school districts tend to rise faster (and from a higher baseline) than in comparable locations with troubled schools. And according to one published in the studyReview of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the trend is even more pronounced in the best school districts. Living in a substandard school zone just steps away from a much better neighborhood where comparable homes sell for 25% to 50% more than homes on my block, I've seen this happen in my own life.
You can use non-profit sites likebig schoolsESchoolDiggerto assess the quality of schools in the cities or neighborhoods you are considering.
Certainly, some of the richest families in my neighborhood have put what they saved (and more) from their mortgages into private school tuition. Others use state and municipalschool choice programsenroll their children in better performing schools.
But many families cannot afford private tuition or have other objections to private tuition, such as a lack of ethnic and cultural diversity. And school choice programs such as coupons and open enrollment have significant disadvantages such as: B. Competition for places at good schools outside the district and limited school transportation (bus) in some places. As a result, the only realistic option for many low-income families is enrollment in underperforming local public schools.
This doesn't mean you should automatically be drawn to better school districts. If you don't have kids and you're sure you won't before you move again, you'll probably find better housing deals in the poorer parts of town.
Of course, if you prefer proximity to world-class museums and theaters, music venues, professional sports teams, and a diverse selection of restaurants serving cuisine from all corners of the world, you'll want to live in a big city or its suburbs. . . But if you enjoy outdoor activities that require a lot of space or closeness to nature, such as hunting and camping, or you want to have a lot of properties to cultivate and raise livestock, opt for the open spaces.
Large metropolitan areas have facilities and cultural opportunities that far outweigh smaller cities and rural areas. But there's enough gray area to satisfy people who want both.
The semi-rural suburban communities that line most of the US's major metropolitan areas feature a mix of housing styles - large-scale "estates" or ranchettes, traditional suburban developments, and high-density housing around older downtown areas that preceded the advent of urban sprawl. And they are usually available at comparatively affordable prices. They're also close enough to conveniently support weekend trips into town without the added expense of a hotel night.
However, city life is not for everyone. Many of us are actually happier in small remote towns and places far from the nearest big city. Others simply can't imagine living in neighborhoods without sidewalks or corner stores or dozens of bars and restaurants within walking distance.
No wayurban, suburban, suburban, or rural communitiesare interchangeable. Each is influenced by its unique demographic and cultural makeup. This is vital, and perhaps crucial, for members of ethnic, cultural or religious groups who prefer to live among like-minded people - whether in an anonymous suburb inhabited by recent immigrants from a particular country or in a tightly knit religious enclave in a large city largely secular environment.
10. Travel time and public transport options
Despite the growing popularity and practicality ofto work at home, explosive growth in suburbs and suburbs continues to increaseaverage travel time and time spent in transit.
These problems are particularly acute in expensive coastal metropolitan areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area and greater New York City. In these areas, high housing prices in the city center and surrounding suburbs are forcing hordes of "extreme passengersTraveling 90+ minutes, 50 miles, or both — each way — between comparatively affordable housing and downtown jobs.
Long trips are less stressful and less potentialcheaper, although no less time-consuming, in large metropolitan areas with goodpublic transportationfor passengers. Although the United States' regional public transportation infrastructure lags behind much of the rest of the developed world, bus or train transportation is a viable option in most major cities.
If you'd rather not commute to work each day and can't work from home, make sure the neighborhoods or suburbs you're considering have robust public transportation that runs when needed. and useWalk-Scoreto assess the walkability of your new neighborhood—an indicator of how easy it is to get around when you're not stuck in the office.
11. Meal Options
For those who are not inclined, ahome garden, unreliable (or non-existent) access to fresh produce is a major disadvantage of rural life. In rural areas, the nearest grocery store with quality produce may be on the outskirts of the nearest major town. ironically the closestfarmers marketMaybe also in the next bigger city.
And for logistical reasons and due to low demand,supermarket delivery servicethat bring fresh produce to the doorsteps of city and suburban residents typically do not serve sparsely populated areas.
Of course, if you have a green thumb, you want to live somewhere that has plenty of space to exercise it. A smallContainergartenit's fine for crafters and home cooks who want to stock up on supplies of fresh herbs, but fully replicating your grocery store's produce aisle (at least during the growing season) requires thousands of square feet of raised beds.
12. City or city size
Do you prefer the comforting cloak of anonymity to the bright lights of the small town? You were made for city life.
Or do you like meeting acquaintances around town every day and frequenting stores whose owners know exactly what you want? You are a small town person at heart.
Can you see the appeal of both? Maybe you'll do best in a suburban community that's big enough to fit but narrow enough for your tastes.
However, keep in mind that your preferences are subject to change. As they age, the familiarity and solidarity of a tight-knit small town can outweigh the promise and possibility of a larger, more expansive community.
13. Health Facilities
Everyone deserves accessaffordable and quality healthcare. This issue is especially important for families with young children, people who are approachingretirement ageand people with chronic illnesses.
In general, large metropolitan areas have more health care options and coverage than sparsely populated parts of the country, although local differences within metropolitan areas are quite common.
Smaller villages and towns with large universities or research hospitals often top their weight as well. AccordinglyThe street, the top two US cities for accessing healthcare are Rochester, Minnesota (home of the Mayo Clinic) and Burlington, Vermont (home of the highly regarded University of Vermont Health Network).
14. Proximity to an airport
If you travel a lot for work, pleasure or both, you need easy access to a major airport.
Many smaller cities have regional airports with regular connections to major urban centers. However, flights from these airports can be less reliable, especially in places with frequent weather-related delays or cancellations. And door-to-door travel times are invariably longer due to necessary aircraft changes. I've spent several years living in a small, remote town with only a few scheduled flights a day, and I can tell you, it's getting old.
Also consider the time and expense involved in getting to and from the airport. If you live in a suburban or rural area that is an hour or more from the nearest commercial airport, the most efficient way to get to the airport is probably by private vehicle. And unless you have a family member willing to drop you off, that means parking at the airport.
It's an expensive prospect. A week on a long term lot can easily cost $150, $200 or more. For example, long-term parking at the terminalDallas-Fort Worth International Airportcosts $24 per day or $168 per week. it's even more expensiveSan Diego International Airport, for $32 per day or $224 per week (although lower rates are available at certain terminals if you book in advance).
If you live closer to the airport, you have cheaper options: taxis, carpooling, public transport, or best of all, a free ride from a friend or family member.
I've moved enough already to have no illusions about the magnitude of the task. Even moving between cities is stressful and logistically complicated. Crossing national borders, let alone international ones, is a truly heroic endeavour.
There's one bright spot amidst all this stress: while saying goodbye to the people and places you love is never easier, the process ofMoverit becomes a little more painless each time.
And because it happens early and sets the tone for what's to come, choosing the right relocation location is one of the most important parts of that process. If you can capture most or all of the relevant considerations before you pack your first box, you'll have a lot less to worry about when the crisis hits.