Whether you’re moving across the country or just changing zip codes, there are numerous factors to consider when making this type of transition. People relocate for various reasons—an employment opportunity, an insatiable wanderlust, a family obligation, even a spontaneous judgment call—but no matter the impetus, don’t start packing just yet.
Before moving, you may ask yourself a few important questions, those obvious variables like crime statistics, population density, living expenses or commuter distance. However, choosing a new place to call “home” requires more than just covering your bases. Ask yourself these questions to make sure your new home is the right fit for you.
1. Can I afford the tax rates?
These annual expenditures vary from state to state, which means you should become familiar with a location’s tax laws before claiming residency. For example, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Washington and Alaska don’t calculate income tax.
Similarly, New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana, Oregon and Alaska don’t require sales tax. These policies affect how the federal government determines state–local tax burdens, which can also impact exemptions or credits.
2. How does education rank?
If you’re a parent, narrowing the selection field based on school district quality is crucial for your children’s academic and social development. Even families whose kids are not currently school-aged shouldn’t underestimate the reputation of a location’s public education system could become a factor further down the road.
For accurate breakdowns on the school districts you’re considering, visit GreatSchools.com, a website that consolidates this data by U.S. region.
3. What are my food options?
Whether you have specific dietary needs, a large family to shop for each week or enjoy eating out every weekend, consider whether these needs and preferences can be accommodated in the location of your new home.
Before choosing your new address, scope out the availability of vegan, gluten-free, organic, sustainable or locally-grown cuisine. Also, make sure the grocery prices in this area remain consistent with your budget. Monthly groceries in large-scale metropolitan centers, including New York City, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Seattle and Philadelphia cost $400—prices vary widely from state to state and city to city.
4. Am I likely to land a job?
Depending on your professional background, this variable may or may not influence where you settle. For instance, those with retail, medical, accounting or restaurant experience can transfer their careers to almost any location. However, if you’ve chosen a specialized industry like journalism, fashion or hospitality, it’s important to confirm which cities and regions have a consistent demand for your skill-set.
In addition, take time to research the forecasted job market and employment rates throughout the metro areas you’re contemplating.
5. Is the climate manageable?
Regardless of where you’re originally from, most people fantasize about moving someplace entirely different from their hometowns. However, this desire to experience new environments isn’t always a practical benchmark when selecting your next residence.
If you’re accustomed to Southern California’s humidity, those sub-zero Chicago winters could prove miserable. Conversely, if temperate Virginia is your frame-of-reference, then arid Texas or tropical Florida might deter you from venturing outside the refuge of air-conditioning.
Have you relocated for either professional or personal reasons? If so, which determining factors influenced this choice? Share your experiences and pointers in the comment section below.