5 Details to Research Before Moving to a New City
Whether you’re a recent college graduate heading to a big city or a corporate climber heading expanding your career to Silicon Valley, there are many details to consider before making the big move. Details like standard cost of living and culture of the region make it easy for you to get a better sense of the area before spending all your time and money to take the plunge.
Structure your research with these five areas of focus so you’ll feel confident in your choice before landing in a new—and likely unfamiliar—city.
All urban settings are divided into neighborhoods, and each often has its own unique vibe. Start here, taking both logistics and lifestyle into account as you research each pocket of the city. As you do, consider your priorities, like feeling secure, finding a place that’s affordable, or being within close proximity to restaurants and social or cultural attractions.
Use resources like StreetAdvisor to gauge this location-specific data, including public transit, demographics, school systems, crime rates, average prices, entertainment, shopping and resale trends, for instance.
Once you’ve decided on a neighborhood, you’ll need to calculate how much rent is going to cost per month and whether this amount is compatible with your budget. Luckily, regularly updated statistics on housing and rental costs can be accessed for most cities. Look for cost breakdowns like this Chicago Rent Report, updated on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Don’t miss other reports like the Four Trends That Will Impact Rental Markets in 2018 or 10 Best Places to Live in the U.S in 2018. You’d be surprised how much this type of data can guide you, especially if you’re moving to find a specific type of job or live a certain way of life.
Another issue to think about is how you’ll get around the city—even if you do have a car. In most urban areas, you’ll be dealing with inflated gas prices, limited parking and congested traffic, making public transportation, Ubering or walking a necessary evil. Luckily, many major cities are built on the foundation of public transportation, making it extremely accessible and convenient.
If this will be a regular aspect of your life, check out Smart Asset’s Best Cities for Public Transportation report. Number one on the list is Washington, DC, followed by San Francisco and Boston, in second and third place respectively.
Don’t forget to factor in the expense of a monthly pass, which you’ll likely need for commuting regularly. If you don’t live in a city right now, this expense may simply take the place of your current gas budget.
Different regions have their own utility rates and providers, so the prices you’re used to for Internet, phone, cable, water, electric and heating/cooling might not be the same where you move. It’s important to know what these additional costs of living will be, so you’re not blindsided by an unexpected charge in that first month of transition.
Your best way to research this is to simply call each provider to inquire about regional costs, specials, and packages. As a general baseline, however, Zillow estimates that apartment renters will spend, on average, $200 per month on utilities. There are a number of factors that can affect that price, however, as Zillow suggests:
“Keep in mind, though, that this is for the rental as a whole—if you have roommates, divide by the number of people living in the unit. Of course, if you have a very large apartment (say for four people or more) or you are renting a house, the heat, electricity and A/C will be higher, so add 20-30 percent to the estimate, and then divide.”
Job Market Trends
Whether you’re relocating for a current position or embarking on a new career and life, it’s wise to take a look at employment rates where you’re headed. Observe how that specific job market behaves—especially in your specific industry. For example, many major cities in Texas are experiencing a boom in law firm expansions and relocations. If law is your field, that may be the move for you.
To get a general overview of U.S. job market trends check out Money Magazine’s analysis of the most successful U.S. markets for 2018.
Get Ready to Move
Swapping your address for a different zip code in an unfamiliar city is exciting, but you’ll be quickly deflated when things aren’t working the way you anticipated. These details may not seem exciting to research, but they’ll ensure that you’re making the best move for your career, budget and lifestyle, allowing you to thrive and be happy.