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 much more intense when you have a deadline like yours.first day at a new jobor beginning of the school year. Few companies require as many quick decisions or invite as many questions.

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

What to consider when choosing where to live

Of course, this choice involves many considerations, more than a dozen in all. Some, like accessibility and employment opportunities, are obvious and almost universal in their applicability. Others, like food choices and the weather, seem less important than dollar-and-penny issues like where you get your paycheck and how much comes with it. But they can still drastically affect your quality of life and general well-being in the long run.

professional advice: Does your job allow you to work remotely? So you can work from anywhere in the world. companies likedistant yearhelps you find an apartment, your own job and various experiences in the country of your choice.

1. Accessibility

Wealth is relative. after2020 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 some leeway in our budgets. This is where accessibility comes into play, possibly the most important factor for people on the go.

In this context, “affordability” encompasses the total cost of living, not just housing, but also expenses such as utilities, food, transportation, durable goods, and health care. The less you have to spend on your health, the cheaper your dream home will be.

I have never lived in a truly inaccessible place, but I have seen firsthand that seemingly small changes in the cost of living can add up. Moving from a small industrial city in the industrial Midwest to a large metropolitan area with a largely service-based economy reduced my salary, which has not changed thanks to remote work, by 20%, mainly due to higher housing costs and transportation.

Want to know how much your paycheck could mean at a new location? Use the best seatscost of living calculatorto get a rough estimate.

2. Taxes

Avoiding taxes completely is impossible, but moving to the right place can reduce your overall tax burden. For example,five statesdo not loadIVA: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon.nine statesresignincome taxon most or all sources of income: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

But sales and income taxes aren't the only types of taxes to investigate. Various taxes, such as property taxes, school taxes, gas taxes, and business taxes and fees, can affect your bottom line to varying degrees.

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 the 2017 fiscal year, 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 orFamily Care Waiversto 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 location independent.digital nomadsAll you need is a convenient workspace, a reliable laptop, and a fast internet connection to start making good money on the go. However, many individuals and families decide to move for professional reasons.

Employment opportunities vary from state to state and from city to city. Therefore, take some time to research the job markets in different fields. First, look at the high-quality jobs in your industry and identify where the highest concentration of these jobs is.

If you are (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 transferable, say you're a teacher or an 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. 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 might earn 30% more than her colleague in Salt Lake City, Utah. But the difference can be minimal, thanks to the towering houses and apartments of Southern California.fuel prices. Be sure to do your research before you move, and ideally find a job before you move.

4. Value of the property

With ever-changing real estate values, homebuyers can't afford not to understand the real estate market in their new town. At a minimum, research current property prices and near-term property price trends, how long properties have been for sale, whether properties are selling above or below the asking price, and likely trends of long-term value.

Also check carefully for local property price trends. Use sites likeZilow,trulia, zRotflosseget a check on the siteReal-estate market. Or switch to a paid subscriptionneighborhood scoutif you really want to get the most for your money (and you certainly doinvest in local real estateto generate passive income).

Real estate 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. Thoroughly researching prevailing rental rates before you move (or even decide to move) will ensure that you find an affordable apartment, or avoid moving to a new city that you really can't afford.

If you plan to stay for a while, maybe rent for a few years until you save on rent.Sufficient advanceto your first house. In itbuyers markets, where the rent-to-equity ratio is low, you don't have to save as much for a down payment. You'll also start building equity in your new home much faster.

5. Crime Rates and Statistics

Nobody wants to live in an area with a lot of crime, but that doesn't mean everyone can live in a utopian society where crime never happens. Use city or state resources to look up crime statistics in any city, town or neighborhood you're looking at.

For example, himNew York Police Departmentmaintains a comprehensive database of city and county crime reports which, while quite data-rich, can help the layperson understand crime rates and trends in different areas. Reputable private resources such ascity ​​data, they can also help, but they are not always reliable.

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But just because an area is safe today doesn't mean it's safe, or vice versa. The long-term stability of a neighborhood can be a crucial factor in the safety of its surroundings.

Also consider the development path of a particular site when narrowing down your options. for example duringgentrificationhas serious downsides, such as displacement of low-income residents, local wealth also tends to equate 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 enjoy spending time with your family and close friends, you may want to think twice before straying too far from them. Driving across state lines to get together on vacation (or just because) takes time, and flying is a source of stress and a significant burden on tight budgets.

If you're looking for a change or a setting that won't break the bank, consider proximityUnioholiday townswith a strong and diverse local economy.

7. Climate

For many of us, the weather is a critical aspect of quality of life. If snow sports are your thing, stay somewhere that has a lot of them, or at least where it's physically possible. Think Colorado or Vermont, not Texas or Georgia.

Also if you prefer the beach to the slopes and you would like to be able to do itcyclecozy in January, then the sunbelt is perfect for you.

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

8. Education system

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

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

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

Certainly some of the wealthier families in my neighborhood invested what they saved (and more) from their mortgages in private school fees. Others use state and local governmentsschool choice programsenroll their children in high-performing schools.

But many families cannot afford private education or have other objections to private education, such as a lack of ethnic and cultural diversity. And school choice programs like vouchers and open enrollment come with significant drawbacks, such as competition for spots at good out-of-district schools and sometimes limited school transportation (buses). As a result, the only realistic option for many low-income families is to enroll in low-performing local public schools.

That doesn't mean you should automatically be drawn to better school districts. If you don't have kids and you're 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 like outdoor activities that require a lot of space or being close to nature, like hunting and camping, or if you want a lot of land to farm and raise livestock, then you should stick to the open spaces.

Large metropolitan areas have amenities and cultural opportunities that far exceed 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 metropolitan areas feature a mix of housing styles: large "homesteads" or ranchettes, traditional suburban developments, and high-density housing around older centers that predate the expansion of urban sprawl. And they are usually available at comparatively cheap prices. It's also close enough for convenient weekend trips to the city without the added expense of staying overnight in a hotel.

However, extra-urban life is not for everyone. Many of us are happiest in small remote towns and villages far from the nearest big city. Others simply cannot imagine living in neighborhoods without sidewalks or corner stores or dozens of bars and restaurants within walking distance.

No wayurban, suburban, exurban, 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 religious community. very close. Enclave in a largely secular country. Big city.

10. Travel time and public transport

Despite the growing popularity and practicality ofWork from home, explosive growth in the suburbs and suburbs continues to riseaverage travel time and transit time.

These problems are particularly acute in expensive coastal metropolitan areas such as the San Francisco Bay Area and the New York metropolitan area. In these areas, high housing prices in the city center and adjacent suburbs attract hordes of "extreme passengers” Commuting more than 90 minutes, 50 miles, or both, each way, between comparatively affordable housing and downtown jobs.

Long trips are less stressful and potentially lessless expensive, although no less slow, 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, traveling by bus or train 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 transportation that works when you need it. and useWalk-Scoreto assess the walkability of your new neighborhood, an indicator of how easy it is to get around when you're not stuck in the office.

11. Dining options

For those who are not inclined, aHome & Garden, unreliable (or non-existent) access to fresh produce is a major drawback 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 supermarkets.that bring fresh produce to the city gates and suburban residents often serve regions that are not sparsely populated.

When you have a green thumb, you naturally want to live somewhere that offers plenty of space for it to live. a littlecontainer gardenFine for crafters and home cooks looking to stock up on fresh herbs, but fully recreating your grocery store 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 bright lights of a small town? You are a natural for big city life.

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Or do you like seeing acquaintances 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 big enough to disappear but small enough for your liking.

However, please note that your preferences may change. As you get older, the familiarity and solidarity of a tight-knit small town can outweigh the promise and possibilities of a larger, more expansive community.

13. Health facilities

everyone deserves accessaffordable, quality healthcare. This question is especially resonant for families with small children, close peopleretirement ageand people with chronic illnesses.

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.

Smaller villages and towns with large universities or research hospitals usually pull their weight too. AfterThe street, Rochester, Minnesota (home of the Mayo Clinic) and Burlington, Vermont (home of the highly respected University of Vermont Health Network) are the two cities with the greatest access to healthcare in the United States.

14. Proximity to an airport

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

Many smaller cities have regional airports with regular connections to the main city centers. However, flights from these airports can be less reliable, especially in locations with frequent weather-related delays or cancellations. And door-to-door travel times are invariably longer due to the necessary aircraft changes. 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.

That is an expensive prospect. A week in 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 her it is even more expensiveSan Diego International Airport, for $32 per day or $224 per week (although lower fares are available at certain terminals if you book in advance).

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

last word

I moved enough to have no illusions about the magnitude of the task. Moving between cities is also stressful and logistically complicated. Crossing national borders, not to mention international borders, is a truly heroic endeavor.

There's a silver lining in the midst of all this stress: While saying goodbye to the people and places you've come to appreciate is never easier, the process of saying goodbye ismovingit gets a little more painless each time.

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And because you've been there from the beginning and set the tone for what's to come, choosing the right relocation location is one of the most important parts of this process. If you can figure out most or all of the relevant considerations before you pack your first box, you'll have a lot less to worry about when things get serious.


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