Choosing where to live can be an exciting (yet challenging) decision. With so many options available, deciding which location is right for you can be overwhelming. From considering your budget and job opportunities to climate and lifestyle preferences, there are several factors to consider before deciding.
Let’s explore some essential aspects when deciding where to live so you can make an informed and confident decision that best suits your unique lifestyle and needs:
Start by carefully reviewing local housing price trends. The cost of real estate is important, even if you’re unsure whether it’s better to rent or buy a house. Thoroughly researching home prices or the cost of rent ensures you’ll make a more informed decision and can rule out areas you can’t afford.
Your housing budget is step one of looking at your overall cost of living, which refers to how much you spend to cover basic living expenses, such as groceries, child care, entertainment, dining out, and so on.
Suppose you’re looking for long-term career advancement. In that case, living in a busy metropolitan hub with various employment opportunities but a high cost of living may be worthwhile. Alternatively, if you’re more focused on building a nest egg, having disposable income for travel, or at the very least, some breathing room in your budget. In that case, you may be happier in an area with a lower cost of living.
The local real estate market goes hand-in-hand with your cost of living and monthly housing budget. Research current home prices, the time for-sale homes sit on the market, whether and how much homes sell above or below the asking price, and probable long-term value trends.
Consider the availability of job opportunities in your field or industry and research the local job market, salary ranges, and opportunities for career growth in the area. Are there jobs available that fit your skill set? Is it highly competitive?
Employment opportunities vary not only from state to state but from city to city as well. Spend some time researching the job markets in different areas. There are many industry hubs around the country – if you’re interested in pursuing a job with any of them, that could be a factor in determining where to land.
Climate can affect your daily life and overall well-being. Some people prefer warmer temperatures, while others prefer cooler weather. Consider factors like humidity, rainfall, and the frequency of natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes.
Weather can affect all aspects of life, from driving to outdoor activities. Look at the weather patterns for the areas you’re considering and think about how they’d affect your day-to-day lifestyle. Do you prefer having four seasons throughout the year, or does the idea of running daily errands in the snow sound less than ideal?
Safety is a top priority for many people. Look into the area’s crime rates, including violent and property crime. Visit the area and experience it for yourself. Go in the evening, during the day on the weekend, and around the time the kids get out of school on a weekday to get a better feel of the day-to-day life in that neighborhood.
Consider the availability of emergency services and healthcare facilities as well. Living close to a major hospital may be a low priority if you are at the peak of health. If you have health concerns or require regular care, proximity to a highly rated hospital or preferred physician may be an important factor in your decision.
If you have children or plan to have them, educational options may be a significant factor in your decision. Research the quality of schools in the area, including public and private institutions. If you have a child with specific needs, look at what kinds of schools could accommodate them to ensure they thrive.
If you have older children, consider their post-high school academic careers. Would a community college or trade school nearby appeal to them? Or, is there a state university where in-state tuition would be an excellent perk?
Good schools don’t just provide a good education; they also contribute to the stability of your home’s value. Even if you don’t have kids and they’re not in your future, buying a home in a good school district can help ensure your home maintains a stronger value even in a changing market. Not only are the values for these homes higher, but they tend to take less time to sell.
Consider the availability and accessibility of transportation options in the area, including public transportation, highways, and airports. Major metro areas can have thriving public transportation systems, but research how long it would take and the costs to get to your frequent places.
If public transportation isn’t an option, keep in mind how long your commute to work will be. Factor in weather, as driving during snowy months can often take longer. Also, look at the prevalence of traffic when it comes to getting around for your usual errands like grocery shopping or going to the gym.
If you travel a lot for business, pleasure, or both, you need easy access to a major airport. The climate will also affect your ability to travel, as severe weather can result in delays or cancellations. You’ll also want to consider the time and expense of getting to and from the airport.
Think about the type of lifestyle you want to have. Do you prefer a bustling city, a quiet suburban area, or a rural setting? Consider factors like entertainment, nightlife, and outdoor activities.
A big city can offer a variety of places to live, restaurants, arts, and culture, but it can come with a higher price tag. Conversely, a small town can offer wide open spaces and a lower cost of living, but you’ll likely have fewer restaurants and museums to choose from. Perhaps you’d do best in a suburban community big enough to disappear into but close-knit enough for your liking.
Consider the area’s availability of cultural and social amenities, such as museums, art galleries, theaters, restaurants, and community events. Look at your hobbies (or hobbies you’d like to try!) and see if your new area could support them.
Suppose you prefer being close to world-class museums and theaters, music venues, professional sports teams, and a diverse array of restaurants serving cuisine from every corner of the world. If that's the case, you’ll want to live in a big city or its suburbs. But if you enjoy outdoor activities that require ample space or proximity to nature, such as hunting and camping, or want plenty of property to raise crops and livestock, you should stick to the wide-open spaces.
How do you prefer to spend your time outdoors? Do you want peace and quiet where you can connect to nature? Maybe a hike in the woods or fishing on a local or community lake is your ideal way of spending time outside. Or do you prefer your outdoor spaces to be a bit more manicured? Maybe a resort-style pool where you can lounge or walking paths that meander through your community is more your speed.
If you have kids or dogs, you’ll want to consider how they use outdoor space. Do you want a yard where they can run free close to home? Or do you prefer getting out of the house and having access to dog parks and playgrounds is more important?
A human factor to consider is the proximity to your family and friends. If you rely on them for childcare or want to be able to pop by whenever you want, you may be happier finding an area close to those people. On the other hand, if you’re craving some distance and a fresh start moving farther away may suit you better. Decide what this proximity looks like, which will help narrow how near or far you should search.
Deciding where to live is a significant decision that can impact various aspects of your life, from your job opportunities and education to your overall well-being and quality of life. You can make an informed decision that suits your unique needs and preferences by considering the cost of living, job opportunities, climate, safety, education, transportation, lifestyle, and cultural and social amenities.
We understand the importance of finding the best place to call home and are committed to helping you every step of the way. Check out the Brookfield Residential blog for design advice, homebuying insights, mortgage tips, and more, including great questions to ask a home builder and choosing between a house and a condo. You can also explore where we build and connect with our sales team when you’re ready to learn more. We’ll be expecting you!