Moving can be an exciting opportunity to experience new things, but it’s a good idea to look into some details about your potential new city before calling it home. Many cities have very different price tags—from international capitals such as Prague to London and even between those in the same state such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. So what does cost of living really mean? What else will affect your future if and when you move to a new place? Check out some of the factors you need to consider when comparing city experiences.
1. Cost of housing
Apartment and home costs can vary significantly, and some cities are friendlier to renters. If you are thinking about buying a home and getting a mortgage in your new location, it’s important to look at what other homes are going for and what they have to offer. (You can calculate how much house you can afford.) Your credit score is a major factor in the interest rate you’ll be approved for on the loan, so be sure to keep an eye on your credit in the months before applying. You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
2. Basic needs
Housing is often the biggest, but not the only, expense you will face in your new city. The price of basic utilities, health care, and even groceries can vary greatly between places. Some goods are also more or less available depending on where you are located. Finally, it’s important to factor in the cost of transportation. Is there public transit? Can you walk to work? Do you need a car? This can make a big difference in your monthly costs.
3. Job market
If you are not relocating for work but for your own reasons, it’s probably important to look into job availability in your potential new city. Some cities are better for job seekers in terms of growth and unemployment rates, but it’s a good idea to take into account your industries of interest. Some cities are hubs for certain industries and may not have a lot of job diversity. It’s important to do your homework so you won’t be unemployed and struggling to adjust for too long.
4. Quality of life
One good way to start off thinking about your move and how your quality of life will change is by deciding what things you currently have that you would like to continue to have. For example, if you live in a city with a lot of sporting events and you enjoy going regularly, you may want to find a place that has similar options. From access to cultural activities, entertainment, parks, house of worship, gyms, and shopping options to demographics and proximity to friends or family, quality of life can make the difference from being happy in your new spot or not. Visiting and exploring the area (if possible) can be one of the best ways to get a feel for the city.
5. Neighborhood features
A thorough search of features likely should include quality of schools, crime rate, and community events. It’s important to make sure that your new city and, more specifically, your neighborhood make you feel safe and have what you need to make them really feel like home.
It’s important to do your research about the aspects of life most important to you before you decide on a move. You may be surprised by how much cities can differ in cost of living.