Are you relocating for a new job or just need a fresh start and new scenery? There are a number of things you should consider before deciding where you should move. Relocating can be hard when you know nothing about the area. What school will your kids get assigned to? What are the safest neighborhoods? Where are the best coffeeshops? Etc.
Ask your agent
If you are buying, a local real estate agent will help you find the best home for your needs (and wants). House-hunting remotely can be time-consuming and costly, but working with a local realtor can save you both time and money. Realtors are an invaluable resource. They know the local area, they know real estate value, and they work for you! There are no ulterior motive – just the desire to get you into a house you love.
Best Places to Live
If you are a free spirit looking to relocate anywhere interesting, check out the numerous “Best Places to Live” rankings. Redmond, WA and Lacey, WA made Money magazine’s 100 Best Places to Live in America. Several other WA cities made it onto Livability’es top 100 list, which this year had a heavy emphasis on affordability. Every list uses different criteria but they can be great way to discover interesting new places to live.
Career & Job Availability
Even if you are relocating for a new job, you may want to check out Glassdoor and CareerBliss. You can learn more about the company you’re working for (both have employee reviews). Job security is never a guarantee. It can be good to know if opportunities are plentiful just in case you need to make a career change. Check out the job landscape is before you set down new roots. This is particularly important in cities/towns that are not anchored by large companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon.
If you have young ones still in school, you may be interested to know where the good schools are. A great resource is GreatSchools.org. See which schools are assigned to the city / district you’ll be moving to. Schools are rated (not ranked), so you can see how they compare to one another. There is a lot of great information including: performance on standardize tests, student demographics, teacher to student ratios, etc. and even parent reviews and comments.
Most of us will never be the victim of a crime, but it helps to know what’s going on around you. NeighborhoodScout.com is a good resource for a high-level sense of relative crime level from neighborhood to neighborhood. Crime reports are in the public record, so you can visit your city government’s website to find that information. Seattle provides both online maps and a searchable database for police reports that have been filed.
The National Sex Offender Public Website is a public registry that lets you search for convicted sex offenders within a radius of an address. Familywatchdog.us is another similar website that lets you just enter a zip code and browse a map. Both websites provide photos and addresses of offenders.
Google Maps is a great option to get a “lay of the land” overview of your new neighborhood.. You can see nearby restaurants, attractions (e.g. parks), retail centers, etc.
In particular, you should get driving directions from your new home to your new job. Be sure to set the time / date to when you’ll be driving to work. This gives you the best approximation of driving time since it factors in traffic. Distance alone doesn’t tell the full story, you’ll want to know how long the drive takes in typical traffic conditions. No matter where you’re relocating, in general you can buy more house for less money the further away you are from a major population center. However, if you have to commute to work, consider how much time on the road you are willing to spend.
This is a fantastic resource for finding everything from restaurants to massage therapists to vet hospitals. Run a Yelp.com search for the services you tend to use most often. These are things you’ll want high quality service preferably nearer to you. If you have pets, you don’t want to drive half an hour to your vet in case of emergencies. If you do yoga twice a week, find a great yoga studio near you.
If you are all about reducing your carbon footprint, check out Walkscore.com. You can enter an address, city or zip code and see what the Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score for most places. This gives you an idea for how easy (or hard) it is to get around without a car.
This website provides a great overview including things like demographic information, real estate value, schools and even crime ratings. Some of the information requires a paid subscription, but there is plenty of useful free information to help you learn more about your new neighborhood.
This is another fantastic all-around resource. Get estimates from movers, generate a moving cost estimate, estimate how many boxes you need for packing, and get general information (e.g. temperature, demographics, attractions, etc.) about top cities like Seattle .
Relocating should be an adventure! Moving somewhere new can be daunting. But there are so many online resources to help you make an informed choice. Whether you are moving 20 miles or 2000 miles away, make sure your new home meets your needs. The resources above can help you find the perfect neighborhood that suits your lifestyle.