Where should I live? – 14 factors to help you find the best spot (2023)

Change is a daunting prospect, even if the change is entirely voluntary. It's a lot more intense when you have a deadline like yours.first day in new jobor start of the school year. Few companies require so many quick decisions or invite so many questions.

One thing you definitely don't want to question is where you're moving to. Whether you're a pro, regardless of location, choose betweenThe best places to live and work remotelyor simply searching for the ideal area to live within walking distance to work, this important decision will define your life for years to come.

Aspects to consider when choosing where to live

Of course, this choice involves many considerations, more than a dozen in total. Some, like accessibility and employment opportunities, are obvious and almost universal in their applicability. Others, like food choices and the weather, seem to matter less than dollar-and-cent matters, such as Like where you pick up your paycheck and how far you get with it. Nevertheless, they can drastically affect your quality of life and general well-being in the long term.

expert advice: Does your job allow you to work remotely? Then you can work from anywhere in the world. companies likedistant yearIt helps you find accommodation, your own job and various experiences in the country of your choice.

1. Accessibility

Wealth is relative. after a2020 study commissioned by Money Crashers, more than 25% of Americans equate wealth with financial security, regardless of income. Another 27% define wealth in terms of quality of life rather than finances.

Still, most of us would rather have more money to spend and save, or at least a breather in our budget. This is where accessibility comes in, possibly the most important factor for people moving.

In this context, “affordability” includes the total cost of living, not just housing, but expenses such as utilities, groceries, transportation, durable goods, and health care. The less you have to spend on good health, the more affordable your chosen home will be.

I've never lived in a truly inaccessible place, but I've seen firsthand that seemingly small changes in the cost of living can add up. Moving from a small industrial town in the industrial Midwest to a large metropolitan area with a mostly service-based economy reduced my salary, which hasn't changed thanks to working remotely, by 20%, primarily due to older housing and transportation costs. Costs

Curious about how big your paycheck can be in a new location? Use the best seatsCost of Living Calculatorto get a rough estimate.

2. Taxes

It's impossible to avoid taxes entirely, but moving to the right place can reduce your overall tax burden. For example,five statesnot loadVAT: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire und Oregon.nine statesgive upincome taxon most or all sources of income: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

However, sales and income taxes aren't the only types of taxes you should consider. Various taxes such as Factors such as property taxes, school taxes, gas taxes, and business taxes and fees can affect your bottom line to a greater or lesser extent.

To quantify this impact on your next address, contact the Tax Foundationstate-local tax burdenReport. Calculate what taxpayers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia pay in state and local taxes.

The most recent report, using data from fiscal 2017, identifies the District of Columbia as the highest taxing jurisdiction in the United States, followed by New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Dakota and Hawaii. Alabama has the lowest state-local tax burden, followed by Tennessee, Arizona, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.

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Fortunately, most states offer property tax credits orWaiver of family allowanceto give homeowners additional tax breaks.

3. Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities remain a crucial and often determining factor in decisions about where to live. But it's not as central to the problem as it used to be.

Profitable employment is increasingly independent of location.digital nomadsAll you need is a convenient workspace, a reliable laptop, and a fast internet connection to start making good money just about anywhere. Nevertheless, many individuals and families decide to move for professional reasons.

Job opportunities vary from state to state and city to city, so spend some time researching job markets in different fields. Start by searching for quality jobs in your industry and identify where the highest concentration of those jobs is.

If you're (or want to be) an investment banker, you probably need to live in a big city like New York or Boston. If your skills are more transferrable, such as if you're a teacher or accountant, you have a much better chance of finding work wherever you decide to relocate.

However, income levels for jobs can vary significantly from state to state. All other things being equal, workers tend to earn more in places where the cost of living is high or where competition for their talent is fierce (or both).

For example, a marketing manager in San Diego, California could make 30% more than their colleague in Salt Lake City, Utah. But the difference may be minimal, thanks to Southern California's towering homes andgas prices. In any case, do your research before you move and it is best to find a job before you move.

4. Value of the property

With real estate values ​​constantly changing, homebuyers can afford the luxury of not understanding the real estate market in their new city. At the very least, find out about current property prices and short-term price trends, how long properties will be available for sale, whether and how much property is selling above or below asking price, and probable value developments.

Keep an eye on local home price developments as well. Use sites likeZilow,Trulia, mired finto get a gripreal estate market. Or switch to a paid subscriptionneighborhoodif you really want to get the most bang for your buck (and you certainly doinvest in local real estateto generate passive income).

Running costs are important even if you don't plan to buy a home right away. You still need to make room for rent in your monthly budget. Thorough research into prevailing rental rates before you move (or even decide to move) will ensure you find affordable housing or avoid moving to a new city that you really can't afford.

If you're planning on staying for a while, maybe rent for a few years until you save on rentSufficient advanceto your first house. Inbuyers markets, where the rent-to-equity ratio is low, you don't have to save as much for that down payment. You will also start building equity in your new home much faster.

5. Crime Rates and Statistics

No one wants to live in a crime-heavy area, but that doesn't mean everyone can live in a utopian society where crime never occurs. Use city or state resources to look up crime statistics for any city, town, or neighborhood you have in mind.

For example himNew York Police Departmentmaintains a comprehensive database of citywide and countywide crime reports that, while fairly data-rich, can help laypeople understand crime rates and trends in various areas. Reputable private resources such asCity Data, they can also help, but are not always reliable.

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But the fact that an area is safe today does not guarantee that it will be safe in the future, or vice versa. The long-term stability of a neighborhood can be a crucial factor in the security of its surroundings.

Also consider the development path of a particular site when narrowing down your options. For example duringgentrificationhas serious downsides, such as displacing low-income residents, local affluence also corresponds to lower rates of violent crime, according to data compiled by theUS Department of Housing and Urban Development.

6. Proximity to family and friends

If you value the time you spend with your family and close friends, you might want to think twice before straying too far from them. Driving across state lines to meet up for the holidays (or just because) takes time, and flying is a source of stress and a significant drain on tight budgets.

If you want a change of pace or scenery that doesn't cost too much out of pocket, consider the proximityFacultyÖresortswith a strong and diverse local economy.

7. Climate

For many of us, weather is a critical aspect of quality of life. If winter sports are your thing, base yourself somewhere where it's plentiful, or at least where it's physically possible. Think Colorado or Vermont, not Texas or Georgia.

Even if you prefer the beach to the slopes and want to be able to do sogo on a bikecozy in January, then the sun belt is just right for you.

It's worth noting that the weather affects more than just our physical well-being, mental health, hobbies and the clothes we wear. It often shapes the local economy and thus also the employment and relocation decisions.

8. Education system

For parents, the value of living close to quality schools is clear. However, single people and couples without children must also take the local education system into account when choosing where to live.

All other things being equal, housing values ​​in good school districts tend to increase faster (and from a higher baseline) than in comparable locations with problem schools. And according to a study published inFederal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, the trend is even more pronounced in the best school districts. I live in a lower-school area just steps from a much better neighborhood where comparable homes sell for 25% to 50% more than homes on my block. I have experienced this in my own life. .

You can use nonprofit sites likebig schoolsmiSchoolDiggerto assess the quality of schools in the cities or neighborhoods you are considering.

Sure, some wealthy families in my neighborhood put what they saved (and more) from their mortgages into private school fees. Others use state and local governmentsschool choice programsenroll their children in high-performing schools.

But many families cannot afford private schooling or have other objections to private schools, such as a lack of ethnic and cultural diversity. And school choice programs like coupons and open enrollment have significant downsides, such as: B. Competition for places at good schools outside the district and limited school transport (buses) in some places. As a result, the only realistic option for many low-income families is to enroll in underperforming local public schools.

That doesn't mean you should automatically be drawn to better school districts. If you don't have kids and are pretty sure you won't before you move again, you'll likely find better deals in lower quality neighborhoods.

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9. Cultural

Of course, if you prefer proximity to world-class museums and theaters, music venues, professional sports teams, and a variety of restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, you'll want to live in a big city or its suburbs. But if you enjoy outdoor activities that require a lot of space or closeness to nature, like hunting and camping, or if you want lots of land for farming and raising cattle, then you should stick to the open spaces.

Large metropolitan areas have amenities and cultural opportunities that far outstrip smaller cities and rural areas. But there's enough gray area to satisfy people who want both.

The semi-rural, suburban communities that surround most major US metro areas feature a mix of residential styles: large "estates" or ranchettes, traditional suburban developments, and high-density housing around older centers that predated expansion. And they are usually available at comparatively cheap prices. You're also close enough for convenient weekend trips into the city without the added expense of an overnight hotel stay.

That being said, living in the suburbs isn't for everyone. Many of us are happiest in small, remote towns and villages far from the nearest big city. Others just can't imagine living in neighborhoods without sidewalks or corner shops or dozens of bars and restaurants within walking distance.

No wayurban, suburban, suburban or rural communitiesthey are interchangeable. Each is influenced by its unique demographic and cultural makeup. This is vitally important, and perhaps crucial, for members of ethnic, cultural or religious groups who prefer to live among their own kind, whether in an anonymous suburb inhabited by recent immigrants from a particular country or in a closely affiliated religious community Enclave. . in a largely secular country. big city.

10. Travel Time and Public Transport

Despite the growing popularity and practicality ofWork from home, the explosive suburban and suburban growth continues to increaseaverage travel time and transit time.

These problems are particularly acute in expensive coastal metropolises such as the San Francisco Bay Area and the metropolis of New York. In these areas, high housing prices in the inner city and adjacent suburbs are drawing throngs of “extreme passengers” Traveling more than 90 minutes, 50 miles, or both each way between comparatively affordable housing and inner-city jobs.

Long trips are less stressful and potentially lessless expensive, if not less time consuming, in large metropolitan areas with goodpublic transportationfor passengers Although the United States' regional public transportation infrastructure lags behind much of the rest of the developed world, transportation by bus or rail is a viable option in most major cities.

If you'd rather not commute to work every day and can't work from home, make sure the neighborhoods or suburbs you're considering have robust public transit that will work when you need it. I knowscore on footto assess the walking ability of your new neighborhood, an indicator of how easy it is to get around when not stuck in the office.

11. Catering options

For those not ready to hold oneHome & Garden, unreliable (or non-existent) access to fresh produce is a major handicap of rural life. In rural areas, the nearest grocery store with high-quality products may well be in the suburbs of the nearest big city. Ironically the closestfarmers marketIt could also be in the next big city.

And for logistical reasons and due to low demand,Delivery service for supermarketsthat bring fresh produce to the doorsteps of city and suburban residents usually serve regions that are not sparsely populated.

When you have a green thumb, you naturally want to live in a place that offers plenty of space to live it out. a littleContainergartenIt's fine for crafters and home cooks looking to stock up on fresh herbs, but fully recreating your grocery store's aisle (at least during the growing season) requires thousands of square feet of raised beds.

12. City or city size

Do you prefer the soothing cloak of anonymity to the glow of small town lights? You're a natural for big city life.

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Or do you like seeing people you meet around town every day and patronizing businesses whose owners know exactly what you want? You are a small town person at heart.

Can you see the appeal of both? You might do better in a suburban community that's big enough to disappear but narrow enough for your liking.

However, keep in mind that your preferences may change. As one ages, the familiarity and solidarity of a close-knit small town can outweigh the promise and possibilities of a larger and more expansive community.

13. Healthcare Facilities

Everyone deserves accessaffordable, quality healthcare. This question is especially resonant for families with young children, close peopleretirement ageand people with chronic diseases.

In general, large metropolitan areas have more healthcare options and coverage than sparsely populated parts of the country, although local differences in metropolitan areas are quite common.

Even smaller cities with large research universities or hospitals often exceed their weight. In accordance withThe street, the top two cities in the US for access to health care are Rochester, Minnesota (home of the Mayo Clinic) and Burlington, Vermont (home of the renowned University of Vermont Health Network).

14. Proximity to an airport

If you travel extensively for work, pleasure, or both, you need easy access to a major airport.

Many small towns have regional airports with regular connections to major city centers. However, flights from these airports can be less reliable, especially in places with frequent weather-related delays or cancellations. And door-to-door travel times are invariably longer due to the need to change planes. I spent several years in a small, remote town with only a few scheduled flights a day, and let me tell you, it's getting old.

Also consider the time and costs associated with getting to and from the airport. If you live in a suburban or rural area that is an hour or more from the nearest commercial airport, the most efficient way to get to the airport is probably by private vehicle. And if you don't have a family member willing to drop you off, that means airport parking.

It's an expensive prospect. A week on a long term property can easily cost $150, $200 or more. For example, long-term parking at the terminalDallas-Fort Worth International AirportIt costs $24 per day or $168 per week. In it is even more expensiveSan Diego International Airport, for $32 per day or $224 per week (although lower fares are available in certain terminals if you book in advance).

If you live closer to the airport, you have cheaper options: taxi, carpool, public transport, or best of all, a free ride with a friend or family member.

last word

I moved enough not to have any illusions about the magnitude of the task. Moving between cities is also stressful and logistically complicated. Crossing national borders, let alone international borders, is a truly heroic endeavor.

All of this stress has a silver lining: While it's never been easier to say goodbye to the people and places you've come to love, the process ofTo moveit gets a little more painless each time.

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And because it's early and sets the tone for what's to come, choosing the right move location is one of the most important parts of this process. If you can make most or all of the relevant considerations before you pack your first box, you'll have a lot less to worry about when the worst comes to the worst.


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