How to choose where to live?

Saturday Dec 31st, 2016

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Home is where the heart is, but what if your heart doesn’t know where it should be?

From low crime rates to a great education system, there are many variables to consider when choosing that perfect place that you and your family can call home.

To help you make this important decision, I’ve provided an analysis of the most important factors to help you find a home that suits the needs of you and your family.

How to Choose a Place to Live

Begin by determining what is most important to you and your family. If you’re single, living in a bustling city might be an ideal choice for your next home. If you have a family, on the other hand, a small town offers amenities that your kids will love.

1. Affordability

No matter what your pay grade is, living comfortably and within your means should be your first concern. Affordability includes more than just housing expenses; the prices for consumable goods, like groceries, vary greatly from town to town. The price of gasoline, utility services including electric and water, and taxes, also varies.

2. Taxes

Considering the property taxes is an important consideration when choosing a place to call home.  Durham Region has one of the highest property tax rates around while living in Toronto has one of the lowest.   But in my opinion there is something to be said about quality of life - and there is no better place to call home than right here in Uxbridge, Ontario.

 

3. Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities vary from and city to city, so spend some time researching the job markets in different areas of the country. Start by analyzing quality employment opportunities within your industry, then determine where the highest concentration of these jobs are located.  If you don't mind a 1 Hour commute to Toronto for employment - Durham Region might be the place for you.

 

los angeles map pin

4. Real Estate Value

Since buying a home is the single largest investment you will probably ever make, you need to seriously consider this factor. With real estate in a constant state of flux, it’s important to research current home prices, the length of time homes are for sale, the resale values of homes, and probable long-term value estimates.

5. Crime Rates and Statistics

No one wants to live in a high-crime area, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can live in a Utopian society where crime never happens. By researching the crime rates and statistics for various areas, you can learn more about the safety of a town or neighborhood.

If you have already decided where you want to live, stop by the local police stations to discuss your new neighborhood. The police will be happy to discuss any concerns you have about the area. 

Keep in mind that just because an area is safe today does not guarantee that it will be safe in the future. The long-term stability for a neighborhood can be a determining factor in how safe your surroundings are. Also, consider the future development of a particular location as you narrow down your choices.

6. Proximity to Family and Friends

Do you have a large extended family? Do you spend the holidays with your family and friends? These are important factors to consider when choosing where to live.

If extended family and friends are important to you, choose a place either within driving distance or within a reasonable distance by plane. Otherwise, you’ll constantly feel torn, and likely spend all of your vacation time and energy shuttling back and forth to visit friends and family.

sunny nyc park

7. Climate

Like to ski all winter long? Maybe southern Arizona isn’t the place that you should call home. Not a fan of humidity? You may want to avoid settling in Florida any time soon.

The climate plays a large role in our lives as it impacts our hobbies, behavior, and sometimes even our jobs. Living in the climate in which you are most comfortable contributes to your mental health, so choose wisely!

8. Education System

A good education is essential to setting up children to better handle the rest of their lives, so the importance of good schools cannot be overstated.

My parents chose the town where we lived because of the public school system’s reputation.  The quality of the public schools factors into your finances, too, since tuition for a private school can be extremely expensive.

9. Culture

If you crave constant cultural stimulation, you definitely want to choose a place that has a lot of cultural offerings. 

Many people need to be near their favorite team, or a vibrant music scene or the theater. If you have a favorite hobby or recreational activity, make sure that you can continue to pursue these interests in your new home. Finally, if you enjoy being around a specific religious or ethnic community with your same beliefs and interests, this should be a factor in where you choose to live.

time square broadway

10. Commute Time and Public Transportation Options

The explosive growth of the suburbs surrounding metropolitan areas have made commuting times in many areas unbearable. A recently released report from Sweden indicates that long-distance commuters actually have an increased risk of divorce. The length of time it takes to get to work can be a determining factor in the decision to move to a new locale.

11. Food Options

If you’re a foodie, you may want to try to find a place to live near the ocean or near a metropolitan city center. Grocery store fare, while plentiful, doesn’t replace the quality of fresh food from the ocean or fresh produce from the farmers’ market. If eating locally and sustainably is important to you, consider whether you can pursue this lifestyle in your new home.

For me, the ability to grow my own food year-round with a home vegetable garden is a determining factor for choosing where to live. I don’t want to shut my garden down from October to April. However, if trying new, diverse cuisines is one of your passions, a bigger metropolitan area is going to offer more choices than small-town America.

12. Town or City Size

If you enjoy a friendly wave from everyone you pass while driving to the post office, then a smaller town is definitely for you. If you wish to remain relatively anonymous, a larger town or a big city is better suited to your personality.

small town america

13. Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities are important at any stage in life, but they are especially relevant if you have children or if you are nearing retirement age. Easy access to good healthcare can increase your quality of life exponentially, so be on the lookout for towns and cities with good hospitals and medical schools. Often, there will be a correlation between cities and the quality of the healthcare.

14. Proximity to an Airport

If you travel a lot, you may need to live within close proximity of an airport. If you live more than an hour away from the closest airport, traveling to and from the airport can become very time-consuming and expensive. If you spend a healthy amount of time traveling, definitely consider the distance to the airport.

Additional Resources

While the above factors should be considered when choosing the ideal place to live, there are many more factors which will all play a role in your decision-making process. Luckily, there are several websites available to provide additional assistance when conducting your research:

  • City-Data. Full of geographical data and statistics on crime, cost of living, climate, hospitals, schools, and air pollution, along with a vast social network with 1,000,000 members, City-Data.com is a great place to start your search for a perfect place to live. The information can seem endless at times and it can take quite a bit of work to find exactly what you are looking for. However, it’s a tremendous resource for all sorts of useful data.
  • International Living. This site offers a 45-second quiz designed to help you decide where to live overseas.
  • Sperling’s Best Places. This website has a quiz that asks a series of questions about climate, economy, housing, and education, and then provides you with a list of places to live based on your answers. I took the quiz and was told that my ideal places to live were in Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Right on the money!
  • WalkScore.com. This site lets you calculate your “Walk Score,” designed to help you determine how accessible nearby resources are for a particular address. Enter the address on the website and the site instantly populates with a list including stores, restaurants, coffee shops, book stores, banks, and movie theaters in the immediate area, along with a Walk Score. Rural areas will have a low Walk Score, and indicate that the neighborhood is “Car-Dependent.” On the other hand, addresses close to an urban center will have a high Walk Score, with a “Walker’s Paradise” rating.
  • Which City Fits You Best?. A series of 17 questions will help match your personality to your ideal locale.

Final Word

The reality of choosing a new place to live encompasses an incredibly large series of factors, all competing for your attention. In order to be successful in your search, you must determine what is most important to you and your family, do your homework, and then continue to be vigilant in your search until you find the right place to live. It can be intimidating and frustrating at times, but all that effort is worth it in the end once you are settled in your ideal location. Happy hunting!

Where are you living now and how did you decide to settle there? What are the factors that are most important to you?