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How To Decide Where You Want To Live

Carey Chesney4-Minute Read
March 13, 2020

There are few decisions more important than determining where to hang your hat and call home. It can be daunting too, with so many places to choose from offering a laundry list of benefits and drawbacks. But fear not! Here we will lay out an approach that’s sensible and analytical, yet sprinkled with a little emotional digging into your passions. In the end, you'll have the tools you need to ensure that home is truly where the heart is, wherever you decide to buy.

Where Should You Live? Here Are Some Tips

First off, you need a personal ranking of the factors most important to you. Is the type of climate a deal breaker? Does the amount and category of employment opportunities rank high on your list? Are you concerned with the cost of living? All of these things and many more may or may not be important to you, but making a list and ranking your key factors is the best way to start. Let’s dive into some common key elements people consider when deciding where to live.


Climate/Environment: Do you suffer from the winter blues? Or maybe you're a fan of the outdoors who can’t get enough of that fresh powder on your favorite skiing mountain? Envision your perfect setting for a home, whether it’s on a lake, out in the country, or in the midst of a bustling city. Other things you consider later may mean you need to tweak your perfect environment – like you may not be able to be right on a beach but also in the middle of a metropolis for the right job opportunity – but for now try and imagine that perfect setting where you’d be most comfortable.


Job Opportunities: If you can work remotely from anywhere, this may not be at the top of your priority list. But if you have a specific set of skills or industry affiliation, it could be the No. 1 reason you choose a locale. It may not limit your search as much as you think though. Tech hubs are not just confined to Silicon Valley anymore, and being in the financial services industry doesn't mean you necessarily need to live near Wall Street.


Research the places that are thriving, and maybe more importantly growing, in your profession and you’ll be on the right track. It’s also a good idea to really envision yourself going to work every day to get a sense of where you want to live. What mode of transportation do you want to use? How long do you want your commute to be? A short walk to work can be both invigorating and efficient, but a longer train ride may allow you to collect your thoughts and get ready for the workday.


Again, prioritizing factors is the key. Does the draw of a suburban home warrant extra time on the commute or does a short commute mean a bit of a smaller home and higher taxes? Sometimes you can have both but be ready to continually prioritize and compromise.


Family: For most people, decisions of this magnitude need to take into account more than their own interests. If you have a spouse or partner, moving away from them or to a place they aren't too thrilled about can often put strain on a relationship. People who have kids tend to think more about crime statistics and school ratings than those who don’t. Where do your parents live? Are they a key support system for you, or people you need to care for now or in the future? In short, consider your family circle, big or small, before making a move. Loving your home can often be a function of how happy your loved ones are with it as well.


Affordability: Before even looking into getting preapproved for a home loan and investigating mortgages, you’ll probably have a general sense of what you can afford. Beyond the obvious approach of only buying a house you’re comfortable making the payments on, think about external economic factors. Are the taxes relatively high or low? What’s the cost of living? Essentials like groceries, gas, utilities and other day-to-day expenses vary greatly by location, so be comprehensive when listing and comparing. Thinking back to the job market, what is the mean and median income of the area? How does that differ for your specific profession?


In short, take a large economic snapshot of your life and crunch some numbers for multiple locations you are considering. The more affordable the choice you make, the happier you are likely to be not just in your home, but in your new community.


Real Estate Values: Whether it’s your forever home, a waterfront property for leisure, or a starter home you plan to be in for 3 – 5 years, you want your investment to appreciate over time. Real estate values vary greatly by geography, so research the home values in the cities – and more importantly the neighborhoods – you are looking in. Keep in mind that in a big city, home values can vary by block or even which side of the street you are on. Consider enlisting your real estate agent in this endeavor, as they usually have the experience and expertise to make educated predictions for you.


Culture: A broad term to be sure, so try and create sub-categories to help you home in on the type of culture you want in your new community. Food culture, music culture, sports culture, indoor/outdoor culture, work culture. The list is endless, but if you start with what type of things inspire you daily and get you excited to leave the house, a clear ranking of preferences will come into focus quickly.

So Where Do I Move To?

Well, it really depends on your unique situation and desires – sorry if you were looking for an answer with your exact ideal city and home location featured on a map. Finding the right place is a sweet victory, but the process can be half the fun. After all, who wouldn’t benefit from a long look into what makes them tick, what inspires them, and what they can do to build a future in their perfect location? So get started with your list of factors – hopefully the categories listed above are helpful – but keep in mind yours might be completely different. Then rank them, do some research, discuss with loved ones and you’ll be on your way to deciding where you want to live.

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    Carey Chesney

    Carey Chesney brings a wealth of real estate sales and marketing experience to his buyers and sellers as they navigate highly competitive markets. Carey and his wife Ilze work together as Realtors® in Michigan.