You're tired of the same old digs. You're looking for a bit of a change. The only problem is that you have too many options available; so many, in fact, that you don't know which to choose.
That's why you've come here. You need advice. Fortunately, we're prepared to give it to you. Without further ado, here is how to decide where to live.
As you probably already know, different areas have different costs of living. Not only can their rent and housing prices be drastically different, but their food prices, transportation costs, and taxes as well. As such, whether you're moving from house to apartment, house to house, or apartment to apartment, you need to establish your budget.
See, your income might be enough to afford the cost of living in a place like Philadelphia while coming up far short in a place like New York City. The key is to lay out all of your expenses in a spreadsheet and then compare them to your general income.
Note, however, that depending on where you're moving to, you might be able to secure a much higher-paying job. After all, high-cost-of-living areas almost always pay better money than low-cost-of-living areas. So, see what kinds of salaries are available in your prospective area and determine whether they can cover your expenses.
Find Viable Cities
Generally speaking, it's wise to start a location search by targeting certain cities. By scoping out large metropolitan areas initially, you can look for general characteristics that appeal to you.
For instance, if you want to live by the water, you can look for cities that are next to large lakes, rivers, or oceans. At the same time, if you'd like to live in a mid-size city, you can scope out areas that contain between 100,000 and 500,000 people.
Once you've established all of your desired characteristics, you can compile a list of areas that meet your qualifications. For the above-reviewed example, your list might look something like "Little Rock, Charleston, Rochester, Cleveland".
Locate an Area Within the Area
Once you've located desirable metropolitan areas, you can start looking for areas within those areas. When doing so, you should look for areas that align with your interests.
For instance, if you like outdoorsy activities, you might consider looking in rural areas. These can often be found on the outskirts of town, or, in most cases, in the hinterlands between major city centers.
On the contrary, if you're looking to party, you can look for areas with established bar scenes. These will generally be found within the city proper.
Every metropolitan area consists of a range of different sub-areas, each of which carries its own set of characteristics. Regardless of your interests, you should be able to find a sub-area that aligns with them.
Get a Feel for Housing Costs
Whether you're buying or renting, your next move is to get a feel for housing costs. This will help you to find a financially viable neighborhood within the district to which you're trying to move.
Simply put, you need to find housing that you can afford. While you may consider reducing your food budget in order to cover additional housing costs, we sincerely advise against it. Instead, you should establish a maximum monthly housing payment and stay under it no matter what.
Look Up Crime Statistics
The last thing you want is to live in a crime-ridden area. As such, it's important for you to look up crime statistics in the areas that you're considering.
There are a number of sites at which you can do this. Some of these include AreaVibes, NeighborhoodScout, and FamilyWatchdog. Not only will they provide you with crime statistics on city-wide and district-wide bases, but on a neighborhood-wise basis as well.
Generally speaking, the more crime an area contains, the more expensive its housing will be. In the end, the goal should be to strike a balance between housing costs and crime. You might not be able to live in the safest area, but you should still be able to live in an area that's fairly safe.
Different neighborhoods possess different vibes. Whereas one might possess a bohemian atmosphere, another might possess a party atmosphere, for example. Your job is to compare different neighborhoods in your chosen area and decide which one best suits your interests and personality.
When doing this, you must also take crime and housing costs into account. Ultimately, the goal is to pick a neighborhood that strikes a good balance of the three.
Visit the Area
While it's not always possible, it's generally a good idea to visit an area before moving to it. After all, you don't want to get locked into a year-long lease in a place that you actually hate. Taking a trip to your desired area will inform you as to whether it's really a place you want to live.
While there, you're advised to walk the streets and take in the vibe. Do you feel safe? Do the residents seem like your type of people? Are the bars, restaurants, and shops to your liking?
If you can, you should speak to some of the locals as well. Ask them if they like the area; Ask them about activities in the area; Ask them about any problems that the area might have. Just do everything you can to get a feel for the place.
And That's How to Decide Where to Live
And there it is, that's how to decide where to live. As long as you follow the tips above, you should be able to find a great new home, and not just for yourself, but for anyone who comes with you.
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