Where should I move? How to live comfortably and happily

One of the common questions you might ask yourself during your lifetime is, “Where should I move?”

Where Should I Move? Whether you are looking for a fresh start or a new adventure to help lower your cost of living, improve your career, and increase your overall happiness — it’s a question not to take lightly if you have the thought of moving.

You probably have some thoughts of where you’d like to move, but how much do you really know about the locations? How do you pick a place to live that you’ll not only love but also will not be too expensive for you?

The best thing you can do before making the commitment to move is research, consider a few important factors, and do some planning. I’ll explore more below!

Where You Live And Your Finances

Where you live can heavily influence how you manage your money and make it easier or harder to save for your future. The cost of living is a major factor to consider because the last thing you want to do is move to an area that makes it hard for you to get ahead financially.

Of course, money is not everything when it comes to where you live. But if you are already facing some financial stress, then moving to an area where your expenses go up is not really the right move.

Where you live and how much you earn can impact how comfortable you are with your finances. No matter how much you are earning, living within your means should be your priority.

If prices for groceries, housing expenses and other essentials are too high, you are living in a location that is not appropriate for your income.

Whenever you consider moving to a new city, the first thing you want to ask yourself is whether you can afford living there.

14 Questions to Ask Before Moving

In order to make a solid choice of where to move, you should consider a few factors and really get some data behind your analysis before making any changes.

So what are some questions you should ask yourself before moving? Here are a few you want to research answers for and have details that will help guide any decision.

1. What’s the cost of living?

The cost of living is a measurement used to calculate how much it costs to live in a particular area.

Before moving to a new place, make sure to check how much it costs in that city. You can use a CPI calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to help you stay on track.

But understanding this data can ensure you can obtain your financial goals and not be stuck living paycheck to paycheck to get by.

2. Do you have a job opportunity?

It can be very exciting to move to a new city to advance your career and earning potential.

However, make sure that your new salary will be adequate for the new cost of living; $70k per year is enough income for some cities, but not enough in a city like New York, for example.

If you don’t have a job opportunity, make sure you’re going somewhere where you could find a job easily or that there is an opportunity in your career path.

Often, people will make the move for a particular job, but if that goes under, they find limited opportunities elsewhere in the area. Do your research on the economy and industries in that area.

3. Do you have an overall plan?

Are you moving to a city on impulse or do you have a plan? Having a plan can help take the stress out of moving.

If you’re moving somewhere long term, do your research and learn about the city’s school, crime rates, housing costs, and tax system. Get some things done in advance so the entire move isn’t so stressful.

Many times when you are ready for a fresh start, you have this idea in your head of certain locations without really getting to know the area. Moving on that “hunch” or impulse is certainly not the best idea.

4. Can you afford it?

The overall process of moving can be quite expensive. You need to pack up your things, hire or rent a moving truck, other travel expenses, and will have to pay for a deposit if you are renting a new place.

Make sure you have enough in your savings to pay for the move so it’s not as stressful. Remember that you nearly always underestimate how much money you’ll spend on your move, so make sure to have a healthy emergency fund before packing up.

Additionally, really understand and look at the average housing costs, how much you can spend on rent, average utility costs, etc.

How does that compare to your income and current budget? Those figures can give you a much better understanding of your quality of life.

5. Do you know anyone in the new city?

It really helps to have a couple of friends or acquaintances in the city you are moving to. It does take time to settle down, create a new group of friends and feel at home again, and having a couple of friends can speed up the process.

They can also give you advice on where the best neighborhood to live in is, what are some good places to eat out or even nice hikes.

One of the biggest challenges, as you get older, is making new friends that go beyond your potential co-workers. Life can get in the way and make it much more challenging, which can quickly lead to feeling isolated. This is especially true if you do not have family even close by either.

6. How much does it cost to register my car?

It’s a pain to register your vehicle, but the sooner you get started the better. Look up the information you need to transfer your registration details over and update your tags as soon as possible.

Then you can rest assured you’ll never get pulled over for having out-of-state tags that aren’t up to date. Make sure you have enough to cover the cost.

7. How long do you want to stay there?

It helps to have an idea of how long you want to stay in your new city. Are you just going there for a couple of months to try it out? Or are looking for something more long term? Would you raise your grandchildren here?

It’s likely that you won’t really know until you get there, but it’s good to keep the question in your mind as you move to your new city. You’ll have the right mentality and will help you feel like you’ve got some sort of plan.

8. What do I gain by leaving?

Before you start packing up, think about the place you currently live. What are you gaining by leaving? What will you learn and acquire in the new city?

These kinds of questions can get you motivated and keep you inspired. Start thinking about the kinds of people you’ll meet, where you’ll be going and what you’ll be seeing. Again, it’ll help you get excited.

9. What is here that I’m going to need out there?

It’s likely you are used to a few services that you go to regularly in your current city. This could be your nail salon, your favorite pizza joint or a barbershop.

You won’t find your favorite hangout places in the new city, so it’s worth thinking about what you want to find once you get there. It is true that it’s exciting to discover new places, and you’ll soon discover that every city has a special hangout place worth going to.

10. What is my goal for moving out there?

Once again, this question can help you give a sense of direction, instead of impending doom. Ask yourself what your short and long term goals are.

Your goals can change over time, but having some in mind will help you make sense of what you’re doing. When you arrive in your city, what are some of the things you want to accomplish?

11. What is the climate like during different seasons?

While factoring in costs, economy, taxes, and earning potential by moving — there are still other factors that may not be as related to finances.

For example, what is the climate like at different times of year? If you hate the snow and winter, then moving to the North East should probably not be one of your top options.

Of course, if there are more positives to the move other than climate, it might be worth moving there. But climate can affect your overall happiness and mood, so it’s valuable to research it further.

12. How safe is the area I’m looking to move to currently?

It’s inevitable that any location you consider moving will have some crime, no area is exactly perfect. However, you want to move somewhere that you don’t have to worry about crime, drugs, or feeling unsafe.

When you are comparing neighborhoods and cities, look at the overall crime rates and trends. You can find all this info online with a few searches, but it’s something you must do before moving.

13. What is the traffic like?

Regardless if you will be living close to work or working from home, understanding the traffic is also key. Who wants to move somewhere that will take you 30 minutes to go just a mile or two?

Dealing with traffic can cause you to stress, affect your health, and cause unhappiness. Plus, it puts more work on your car and what you spend on gas.

Research the traffic where you plan on moving, is there plenty of public transportation, alternate routes, and how close will you be to essentials like work, grocery stores, etc.

14. What is the culture like and what experiences are offered?

You might not exactly think about this when asking yourself where you should move, but the culture of the areas are important to understand.

What is great about the United States is the many different cultures, history, and traditions passed down over generations.

  • What do you value out of culture?
  • Do you love art and music?
  • Do you have certain religious beliefs and values that you are looking for?

Every state and city will have different cultural backgrounds, you’ll want to find one you feel comfortable with and that excites you.

Top Cities to Consider Moving To

Every person has a different states or cities in mind that would be interesting for relocation. This is because your top city usually has a lot to do with the experiences and friends you have there, not just the city itself.

Americans are migrating now more than ever thanks to the new working from home policies, and in 2019 Redfin reported that 26% of Americans were looking to move to a new city. Some of the cities attracting the most migrants are places like Nashville and Phoenix.

But another thing to remember is as these places become more desirable, the costs start to rise. So you might be able to catch the wave early, but what might happen five or ten years down the road?

While you may have some specific locations to move to in mind, here are some of the top cities you might consider according to Bankrate and Business Insider:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Austin, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas

Deciding to move to a completely new city and state is a big decision. But it can be great for your financial well-being, improve your quality of life, and provide a new sense of purpose.

Remember, it’s a decision not to be taken lightly and ensure you run through the above questions, data, and understand your own budget.

This article originally appeared in Invested Wallet.