12 Steps to Relocate and Find Home in a New City (1/1)

Selecting a new home is one of the first and most important steps you’ll take toward a fresh start in a new city.  However, relocating is rarely, if ever, straightforward.  The lengthy list of to-do’s--from choosing a Realtor to calculating your budget and planning the logistics of your move--can get a bit overwhelming.  Here are 12 tips to help you navigate your move with greater confidence and ease.

Start with your total budget

Always start by assessing your savings and monthly income to draw up the overall budget for the move and new residence, combined.  Use this framework stay on track with spending decisions throughout the process.  Work out the comprehensive moving cost, including packing supplies, transportation and storage.  If you relocate out-of-state and/or hire an all-inclusive moving service, this can sum upwards of several thousand dollars.  Begin checking home prices around your new city, keeping in mind that moving expenses are one of several items to account for when deciding what’s affordable.  The total price tag of a home includes Realtor fees, closing costs, homeowner insurance, utilities bills, and property taxes.  There’s a lot to unpack with budgeting for a new home; it’s a good idea to incorporate online personal finance tools or expertise of financial advisors at your local bank.

Rent to try-before-you-buy

If you haven’t spent enough time in your new city to know the ins and outs of each neighborhood, pursue a rental before buying a home in that area.  Like test-driving a car, renting provides a low-commitment opportunity to make sure an area’s a great fit before taking the leap into a home purchase.

Begin your (re)search online

The Internet really does place the world at your fingertips when it comes to the housing search, which is why most buyers start here.  Easily browse, sort, and preview listings throughout your new city.  In addition, read up on socioeconomic data and residential info for different neighborhoods to get an idea of fit, affordability and options, before even visiting.  If you know precisely what you’re looking for, most home listings sites let you efficiently filter the ones that are right for you.  Make sure to check back often for new and updated listings.

Nothing beats visiting your new city

At the end of the day, the best way to know whether a home or neighborhood is right for you, is to experience them for yourself.  Take the time to visit and get a sense of what it’s like to live there.  Meeting face-to-face with Realtors can help ensure you’re on the same page with your needs and preferences for a new home.

Find out your options to get around town

No one wants to settle into a new neighborhood, to later realize that it’s a struggle to get out and about.  Unless you already own a vehicle or plan to purchase or lease one (factor the expenses into your overall budget), check the availability, cost, and ease of using public transit to get from home to office, or anywhere else.  Route maps and fare info are typically available through the city’s transportation office or webpage.  Consider all your options and don’t forget to look up which ride-sharing services operate in the area.    

Decide if the commute is tolerable

Need to choose between a long trek from your dream home to workplace, and a shorter commute to a home that’s, well, less than what you dreamed-of?  Going to greater lengths to live in your ideal home is a personal choice, but it should also be an informed one.  Read up on the research that’s tied long commute times to negative health impacts and decreased productivity.  Ask someone who’s done a long commute.  If you’re still undecided, rent in the vicinity of your dream home to test out the daily trek with fewer strings attached.

Research neighborhood safety

No matter how much you like a home, that affinity will wear off fast if you feel unsafe living in the area.  Anything can happen anywhere, but you’re less likely to run into trouble where crime rates are consistently low.  Before you commit to a home--or even begin searching in an area--double check the data to make sure you’d be comfortable living there.  Try using NeighborhoodScout, Crime Reports, AreaVibes, and similar sources.

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