Moving is a big decision. It’s not just about finding the right house. It’s about choosing a place to live that you will love for a long time.
Despite the difficulties and challenges, about 43 million of us move every year in the U.S. That’s a lot of house hunting.
If you are among that large group of people considering a move, you might be overwhelmed by the number of factors and variables you suddenly need to consider. As mentioned above, it isn’t just about the home itself. There’s also considerations concerning schools, work, logistics, entertainment and more.
Break down the challenges step by step in order to tackle your move by considering these 7 tips for when you’re choosing a place to live.
1. Locate Nearby Schools
If you have children, especially young children, schools will be a big factor in choosing a place to live. Your kids will have to go to these schools for years to come. Their education can be greatly impacted by where you live.
You should research the local school district when you’re looking at a new place to live. It is likely you can find reviews of the school district, including reviews of individual teachers.
Some information will be easier to find. High schools and elementary schools may be easier to research since all the children in the area will be going to these schools. You might even be able to find groups on social media where parents discuss the schools. This can give you a thorough and realistic look at what these schools are like before you commit to sending your children to them.
If your children need any kind of specialty education, you should look into that as well. Some school districts are better at supporting students with special needs or those trying to get into advanced placement classes.
Things are a little different if you’re considering preschools. While the benefits of preschool are widely known, not all areas support comprehensive preschool programs for younger children.
On top of that, many preschools have vastly different approaches to the school day. If you are trying to get your children a head start, you might want to look a little more in-depth into the preschools in the area while choosing a place to live. Some preschools will prepare your children much better for elementary, middle and high school.
2. Consider Work, Too
Of course, choosing a place to live isn’t only about your kids. You should also think about your daily life and that likely includes work.
You don’t want to encounter conflicts in the workplace because of your move. Moving can certainly disrupt the week-to-week rhythm of going to your job and getting things done. You don’t want to add to that by choosing a place to live that is going to make your commute a nightmare.
Consider your schedule and work-life while looking for a place to live. Perhaps you can even improve your commute by moving to somewhere closer or that offers an opportunity to stay away from the typical traffic.
Perhaps you are moving for work, however. In this case, you definitely want to do your homework about how traffic conditions are and how the commute is. You may be able to ask co-workers about where they live and why. They may have some insider tips that you can’t get just by looking at Google Maps to see traffic.
For example, if you notice that a lot of your co-workers are all in one part of town, it may be worthwhile to ask why. Perhaps the flow of traffic goes the other direction. Maybe it’s just easier to get to work from that part of town. There could even be tolls and other things they’re avoiding that you don’t know about yet.
We can’t always make our commute easier by moving, though, and that’s OK. Just be realistic about how the move will impact work so that you encounter as few unexpected hurdles as possible. As much as you can, you should be choosing a place to live that will be sustainable for the long term. If a long, arduous commute is going to wear you down over time, then that might not be the best choice for your lifestyle.
3. Think About What Kind of House You Want
Of course, when choosing a place to live you also have to choose the type of house you’re going to live in. Selecting a location isn’t just about the area itself. It’s also about the type of house you can live in that area.
For example, if you really, really want a house, the downtown of a city might not be your best option. Even though it would probably place you closer to work, there are unlikely to be many traditional homes for sale in the middle of the city. You should toward the outskirts and suburbs if that is what you are hoping to buy.
There are also a lot of options beyond just a traditional house. If city life is actually for you, you could look at apartments and condos. You might discover some surprising places that are both spacious and close to work.
Condos are a step between in that they are somewhat like owning a house, but you aren’t entirely on your own. If you prefer being part of an HOA, for example, you may be able to find that with condos. HOAs require fees, but they also can take care of some of the maintenance hassles you’d be left with on your own if you got a house.
These days, there are even some very creative housing options. The tiny house movement has held on since springing to life. There are even houses made out of shipping containers that can be spacious and modern even while using unconventional materials.
When choosing a place to live, broaden your horizons and consider some living options you might not have thought were your cup of tea. You might be surprised by what you discover.
4. Consider the Logistics of the Move
Moving is never easy. Even with great friends and lots of planning, the move itself is always going to come with some hurdles.
There are some things you can do ahead of time to make the move itself easier. Some of these things will depend on where you are choosing to move to, though. For example, renting a truck for moving boxes is going to be much easier (and probably much cheaper) in a suburb compared to a city.
Try to consider these factors while choosing a place to live. While a difficult move shouldn’t deter you from moving to a place you’d otherwise love, planning for the logistics of the move can help you avoid some hassle and heartache while trying to settle into your new home.
If necessary, you can hire move management specialists for things like hauling your belongings long distances or moving large items in and out of homes. This help can really make your move go a lot more smoothly. You don’t want to break or lose something because you tried to do it all yourself when you could easily get help from professionals and not even need to worry about the details.
5. Figure Out Your Priorities
While choosing a place to live, think about your priorities. That doesn’t just mean for the move. Think about your priorities in your day to day life. We mentioned jobs and school, but your life is about so much more than just those obligations. It is worth it to take a moment and think about what is important to you so you can find a great place to live.
Maybe, for example, public schools aren’t for you but you aren’t sure quite how to pick a private school. Your location could have a big impact on the options you have regarding private schools. A lengthy commute every day is no more pleasant for your children than it would be for you.
It could be helpful to make a list while you are choosing a place to live. Start by writing down what you do most days. Then write what you want to be doing. Maybe you hit the gym once in a while, but wish you were more consistent about it. Where you move could hurt, or help, with this goal by placing you closer or farther from your local gym.</p.
Perhaps peace and quiet and nature are very important to you, though. In this case, you might want to check out how densely populated an area is and how noisy it is. If you end up close to a road, the constant noise could become a burden over time. You don’t want to end up buying a home in an area you soon come to hate.
Figuring out your priorities is also about compromise and balance. You probably won’t be able to get every single thing you’d like to out of your new location. You might find a local physical therapy office that can help you get moving again, but you might have to sacrifice a short commute to work. Or you might discover beautiful nature nearby, but have to be in a different school district to make that work.
It’s important to know what is most important to you so you can make decisions about where to live when you can’t get everything you are hoping for.
6. Don’t Forget Your Hobbies
Your priorities should also include your hobbies.
Hobbies might not sound as important as things like physical therapy and work and school, but that is misleading. Your hobbies can fulfill you and bring you joy and that is just as important as your daily commute, if not more so.
When choosing a place to live, think about where your hobbies fit on your priority list. What are you willing to sacrifice on in order to get more hiking time, for example? If you are a big gardener, is there a garden center nearby or would it be a big hassle to start up your garden in your new home? If you like nightlife, how accessible is it via public transportation?
These sound like trivial concerns, but they actually aren’t. You aren’t just choosing a place to live so you can go to school or work. You are choosing where to spend your life and that should include the things that make you happy.
The home itself can also facilitate your hobbies and interests. Maybe you want a big back yard for hosting parties or just getting outside when you can. Maybe you’re looking into the process of building a wine cellar because that is your passion. Maybe you just want a space that is cozy and comfortable.
Whatever the case may be, don’t downplay the importance of your hobbies and interests while choosing a place to live. They deserve a prominent spot on your priorities list as well.
7. Plan for Emergencies as Well
Life happens to all of us. Even in the best of cases, accidents and medical emergencies can always happen. Rather than pretending they won’t, we should be prepared to deal with them.
While choosing a place to live, spare a thought for the location of local hospitals and urgent care facilities. You may not need them soon, but you will probably need them at some point, even just for routine things. In any case, it is better to locate emergency services before something happens rather than during a high-pressure moment with a lot of urgency.
You should also make some preparations within your home as well. Having a first aid kit is never a bad idea, but think also about where you are choosing to live. Is there a particular type of pest that is often a problem? Maybe you are living in a high-density area where things like the flu can spread rapidly.
You don’t need to be alarmed or overly cautious, but it’s good to plan for common emergencies while you are choosing a place to live as this will let you handle them better in the moment. You can make a cheat sheet for local hospitals and emergency services and have it on hand before you even make the move.