Recently, have you gotten the itch to move to a new city? Whether you’re looking to move thirty miles away or three thousand, it’s important to research and educate yourself on a variety of factors before making a move to a new place. Having lived in ten different cities throughout my lifetime, I can tell you that not every city is created equal –– pros and cons exist in all cities. With that in mind, I encourage you to consider the following 9 factors before making any concrete decisions.
Why leave where you are right now? What do you want to gain from a move? Perhaps it’s a change of scenery, a better chance to land a dream job, or maybe it’s a way to test out being away from home. Whatever the reasons, make sure you’re clear on WHY you want to move so you’re able to manage your own expectations.
2. Your network
Who do you know in this city? If you know people in the city that you move to and leverage those relationships, then the transition could be much easier than if you move somewhere with no network at all.
If you don’t have a network, that’s okay! Just know that you’ll need to be vulnerable and put yourself out there to meet new friends and make professional connections. I found great luck with joining my neighborhood NextDoor site as well as city-specific Facebook groups.
You can also ask your current network for connections to people that they know who live in the city you’re wanting to move to, so you can pick their brains about what it’s like to live where they are from afar.
3. Career opportunities
We spend so much time working. You’ll want to ensure that the place you move to has ample opportunities in your field before making a final decision. One strategy that I’ve used in the past is to reach out to people who have a similar job title that I want (in the same field that I work in) on LinkedIn and ask for a 10-minute networking call/email to discuss the job market, networking groups to join, events to attend, etc.
4. The weather
Yes, I am soo serious about this one. What kind of weather do you prefer, and what’s the weather like in the place you’re eyeballing? This factor actually makes a HUGE impact if it’s not aligned with your preferences.
For example, I thought that living in Phoenix for a summer would be great. I imagined it being sunny nonstop, poolside all the time, and low-key desert vibes. What I got was overwhelming heat to the point where I could only enjoy being outside at night (I spent only two afternoons at the pool the entire summer!), and I didn’t enjoy the desert landscape at all. Everything was brown and seemed…. well, dead to me. However, one surprising pro of living in AZ for a summer was the sunsets. I have never seen a better sunset to this day (it wasn’t enough to make me want to live in Phoenix, though!).
5. Pleasurable activities
What activities light you up and feed your soul? It’s important to research if those things are commonplace in your potential new city or not. You’re not going to be hiking often in New York City (although I bet you WILL walk like 3x as much as any other place you’ve lived). Is there a vibrant food scene? Or at least some good options for the cuisine of your choice? Whatever activities that you enjoy doing, go on a research spree to see if they exist where you’re considering moving.
6. The cost of living
What are the different neighborhoods, and what’s the going rate for a rental or buying a home? How much does it cost to buy groceries, pay for gas/monthly transit pass, utilities, dog walking/boarding? Are there ample parking options or do you have to pay for monthly parking? How much are taxes? Many factors exist for this one –– check out BankRate to get a breakdown of the average costs of things for any city you want to learn more about.
7. The city’s vibes
What’s this place known for? Good live music, the land of endless career opportunities, its laidback culture? Know what you may be getting yourself into before you’re in it. I moved to NYC from Denver the year marijuana became legal, and I moved back to Denver this past spring. Being back and realizing that nowadays, it’s truly commonplace to smoke blew my mind. Honestly, I’m indifferent about it, but I know that others may have stronger opinions about it.
8. The pros and cons
Wherever you’re at now, you have a life and a routine that will undoubtedly be up-ended if you decide to move. Make a list of pros and cons for each place so you can compare your “current state of being” to your potential “future state of being”. This can highlight gaps/deficits that may be hard to see with the thrill of moving on your mind.
9. The public school system
We’re at an age now where if you don’t have children yet, you might be closer to having them than not. If you think that one day you’ll have children, continue reading. Is there free Pre-K, all-day Kindergarten, school choice program, four or five-day school weeks, etc.? Knowing how the city’s public school system works may help you make decisions on neighborhoods to look into for housing and how to choose education options for your child(ren) or future ones.
After considering these factors, I hope you gain some clarity on your choices and are able to make an informed decision on where you’ll be living in the near future.