The decision to move is one of the most significant decisions you will ever have to make. People relocate for a variety of reasons. Most common among them is the opportunity for a better job or perhaps a better position with the same company. However the decision to move to a particular destination typically comes down to "Quality of Life" and "Cost of Living" factors.
Quality of Life Factors
It's important to know what the weather is like year round in your new home, or you might be in for an unpleasant surprise! Tucson, Arizona is in the desert, but temperatures drop into the low 30s during winter months. Also consider how you might cope with certain weather conditions long term. Some newcomers to northern regions find the first snowfall of the season beautiful, but later find driving in icy conditions during the winter difficult.
If you have children, you'll want to learn about the schools in your new district. Do the public schools have a good reputation? Are you interested in finding out about private education? A good place to start getting answers is the National Center for Education Statistics. This part of the Department of Education is responsible for rating schools. Reports are available that break down the average SAT score, percentage of children who go to college, and other indicators by both region and individual school.
Is the crime rate higher in the city you're moving to? Feeling safe and secure in your new location will be an important consideration. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Justice have Web sites where statistics on crime are broken down by city, state and type of crime. You can also find information on policing, security issues and local safely programs.
You may have to research an entirely new health or dental plan, not only a new doctor or dentist. Web sites for health insurance carriers will list which states they offer coverage in. Normally included are dentist and physician referrals, including a background of each doctor's education and field of expertise. If you are moving to a rural area, you may want to find out how close the nearest hospital or urgent care facility is, particularly if a member of your family suffers from a chronic medical condition.
The sports or hobbies you regularly participate in should also be considered in your decision. Water lovers may feel landlocked in Colorado, while skiers might be disappointed with Florida's flat terrain. These activities are often the best way to meet friends in your new community and rebuild a social network. Consider looking into not only your current interests, but also those you've never had the opportunity to pursue before. Perhaps a move to Northern California will be your chance to learn about wineries first hand!
The government census data at www.census.gov is great source of regional information on ages ranges, male-to-female ratios and the growth rates of various metropolitan areas.
Friends & Family
Leaving your loved ones behind is the most difficult part of any relocation process. Consider how far you are willing to travel to visit friends and family members and how often, or your long distance bills and frequent flyer miles might grow out of control!
Cost of Living Factors
How far will your salary go? In your new location you might make more money, but have a higher mortgage payment. Or maybe you'll take home the same salary, but taxes will be lower and your dollar will go farther. Try doing some calculations ahead of time to see what you can expect of your cash flow.
How will a move affect your career? This depends on the circumstances. Is your current company transferring you to another location? Consider visiting the new office and meeting your supervisor and co-workers before you accept the position. Be comfortable with the people as well as the job description. If you are moving for other reasons, see if you can keep your current job and telecommute, or transfer to an office in your new city.
If you'll be looking for a job, do some research beforehand on which industries are growing in the area. Browsing online job sites or the local newspaper to will tell you what positions are open and hiring. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a wealth of information on everything including regional employment rates by industry, wages, occupational descriptions and much more. If you are interested in a specific field, the regional branches of industry associations are also great resources.
How will a move affect your spouse's career? Would they be able to relocate? Some companies offer assistance finding work for the spouses of employees that are being transferring. Contact your human resources department and find out.
Maybe you can finally afford the home of your dreams in a new city -- or housing will be so expensive that you'll go for an apartment instead. It's a good idea to go online or contact a realtor and find out what houses are selling for, or how much renting an apartment will cost. You might also be interested in learning what the resale value of your current home is. Don't forget to look at local homeowners insurance rates as well, the differences between cities may surprise you.
How much money will you actually spend on the move itself? Take into account shipping, storage, moving van, hiring a mover, travel expenses, time lost from work and the deposit on a house or apartment. It all adds up!
Some states have significantly higher taxes than others, and even food costs vary from region to region. There are online cost of living tools available to calculate these factors for you if you're seriously considering a particular city.
Once you're finished researching, have a talk with your family members about the proposed move. Listen to what their concerns are and make sure everyone in the family has a voice in the decision. In the end, it might not be objective research but a gut feeling that helps you make the final decision. Do you view the idea of moving with anxiety or excitement? Do you think of it a chore or an adventure? Only you can know for sure!