Looking for a home or apartment is more complicated than it may appear. For someone who has never done it before, it may seem as though you simply look for places you like within a price range you can afford. In actuality, however, there’s a lot more to it. Similar to selecting a destination to travel to, you want a location that encompasses everything that accommodates your needs and interests. You look at more than just the hotel or vacation rental, but the local culture, activities, attractions, and more.
Though on a larger scale than choosing a vacation destination (you’ll be living in your home or apartment a lot longer than you’ll be on vacation), it is important to be thorough in your research about the property, the neighborhood, and other factors to ensure it is in fact a town where your immediate and long-term needs and interests are met.
With that being said, beyond finding the perfect home or apartment in the right price range, here are some other things to consider before deciding which town to make your new home:
You don’t have to be a political person, but you should know about the local government wherever you plan on moving to. These are the people that make decisions for the city you choose to reside in. They are responsible for the parks and recreation, housing services, emergency medical services, public works, public transportation, the police and fire departments, building codes, and much more. Though no local municipality is perfect, moving into an area that doesn’t line up with what you believe or a government that does not provide adequate services and treatment for their residents can make living there a lot more challenging.
Cost of Living
Sure, you can afford the home or apartment you’re interested in moving into, but can you reasonably afford to live in the town you’ve chosen? The cost of living in a particular area is the ballpark amount required to cover basic necessities like housing, taxes, healthcare, food, etc. If you can afford a place to stay but can’t afford to keep up with the taxes, buy groceries, or obtain adequate health coverage, chances are moving to this town will put a financial strain on you.
Public Transportation and/or Walkability
Whether you drive a car or not, when deciding which town is best to move to, you should find out about the area’s public transportation or walkability rating. You never know when your vehicle could breakdown causing you to have to use other means of transportation to get around. So, you want to know that there is public transportation that would get you to and from places like your job, your house, a school, or a shopping center for groceries and other necessities.
If public transportation isn’t highly accessible, then at the very least, things should be easy to walk or ride a bike to (walkability rate). If you wanted to live in Cypress, California, for example, can you easily walk to work, walk the kids to school, or ride your bike to shopping centers or gyms in Cypress? Or, would you have to carpool or use ridesharing services to get to those places?
Unless you’re planning on keeping the job you currently have, you’ll need a new one once you move. Before putting a down payment or deposit on a place, find out if you’ll be able to secure a job in the area you’re interested in moving to. There would be nothing worse than getting a place and then going into foreclosure or getting evicted because you couldn’t find a job to keep up with the expenses. Do research to not only see if there are opportunities available, but that these opportunities are aligned with your skills, education, and professional area of expertise.
If you’re relocating with children, doing a thorough investigation into the school systems is also recommended. It is not enough that a city or town has schools, but how effective are these schools in providing an education to their students? What resources do they have? What’s the teacher to student ratio? Where do they rank in the local and national standardized testing each year? How large are their graduating classes? What type of curriculum do they use? These are all necessary questions to have answers to before deciding to move into a town where your children will essentially grow up.
Your next home purchase or apartment rental is more than just about what you like about the property and what you can afford. It is essentially choosing a place for you and potentially your family to reside for years to come. In order to ensure that your immediate and long-term needs and desires are met, it is imperative that you go beyond the purchase or rental price and look at factors like the local government, transportation, school systems, cost of living, and employment opportunities such as described above.