Not sure where to move? If you’re having trouble choosing a city that fits your budget, lifestyle and professional needs, we’re here to help. From a city’s job prospects and income potential to its weather and crime rates, here are the top 10 things to consider when choosing a new city to call home.
10 Things to Consider When Choosing a City
- Job Prospects
First and foremost, consider your job prospects and income potential before choosing a city. What is the job market like? Are there ample jobs available? If not, how do you plan to make a living? What is the average income per capita and median household income? For many, landing a new job is what brings them to a new city in the first place. For others, it’s simply the job potential that entices them. To figure out job prospects in a new city, we recommend doing thorough research of all companies in the area that offer jobs in your field.
If you’re a single, 20-something, you should think twice before moving to a city that consists mostly of married couples and families. On the other hand, if you’re married with kids, you probably don’t want to live in a city dominated by singles or college kids. So before moving to a new city, ask and research these questions: How old is the average resident? Is there a large demographic of residents in your age range? Is the city home to plenty of families? How about singles? Is the area a popular retirement destination? Figuring out the demographics of the city will give you a better idea if it’s the right fit for you.
- Cost of Living
A city’s cost of living is an extremely important factor when choosing a city to call home. The cost of living should include everything from real estate prices and transportation to the average cost of groceries and dining out. The higher the cost of living, the more money you’re going to need to earn in order to live comfortably in your new city. While many cities with high costs of living have much to offer in terms of job potential, cultural activities and weather, they often require residents to sacrifice living space when renting or buying a home. Several cities with the highest cost of living include San Francisco, New York City, San Jose, Washington, DC, Boston and Seattle.
- Housing Market
How stable is the city’s housing market? Has it recovered from the Great Recession? What is the median home price? Can you afford to purchase a home in a safe neighborhood? Are there plenty of rentals available? Is it a good time to buy? Make sure to ask yourself all of these questions before renting or buying a home in a new city. We recommend talking with a reputable and seasoned Realtor in the area to get a sense for the local market before committing to a move.
Have school-age children? If so, you’ll need to consider educational opportunities in a new city before moving. If you prefer to send your child to public school, take a look at GreatSchools ratings and Niche.com to explore school rankings. In addition, it helps to tour various schools to get a sense of their programs and offerings. We also recommend looking into local museums, family-friendly learning opportunities and other cultural activities in and around the city before moving with your family.
Not everyone can handle bitterly cold weather. On the other hand, not everyone prefers year-round sunshine. Whatever your preference, make sure to look into average temperatures, climates and precipitation rates as well as the pollution and air quality of a city before moving. If your health dictates that you live in a certain type of climate, we suggest narrowing down your search to cities that fit your weather-related needs.
- Proximity to Family & Friends
How important is it that you move close to family and friends? If this is a priority, we recommend looking at cities in and around the areas where your loved ones reside. If you’re willing to move away from the people you know and start fresh in a new city, then you’ll likely have more job options in multiple cities. For advice on how to make friends in a new city, check here.
- Crime rates
Unfortunately, crime in cities is unavoidable. No matter where you move, there will likely be some amount of crime. The question is: are crime rates high enough that you should be concerned? We suggest looking into a city’s crime rates prior to moving. You should also evaluate what type of crime is most rampant: violent or property crimes. Violent crimes are the most dangerous forms of crime and often involve murder, rape and assault. Less dangerous crimes include vehicle theft and burglaries. For tips on researching crime rates in cities, check here.
What kind of amenities do you need? From top-rated hospitals and outdoor parks to restaurants and public transportation options, amenities are an important consideration to make when choosing a city to call home. We recommend making a list of all amenities that are absolutely essential as well as amenities that you could live without but prefer not to. Based on this list of necessary services and conveniences, consider cities that offer the majority of these amenities.
- Social and Professional Networks
Planning to move without a job? You may want to choose a city where you have deep social and professional networks. For instance, cities with large numbers of alumni from your alma mater should be at the top of your list. Have friends and/or friends-of-friends in a certain city? Add it to your list as well. Whether it’s for social or professional reasons, it’s never a bad idea to move somewhere with connections.