How to Decide Where to Live

One of the most important decisions that you’ll ever make is how to decide where to live. The answer isn’t cut and dry since there are many factors to consider. Below we will look at those factors and give you the steps and information to make an informed decision that is right for you and your family.

What Climate Do You Prefer?

Before you can make any more decisions, you want to consider the climate that you’d prefer. Are you someone who prefers the heat? Do you like cold weather? Would you prefer someplace dry, or do you like humidity?

If you suffer from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may not want to live somewhere that sees a lot of cold and snow. This depression is affected by the seasons. It usually begins during the latter part of the fall and continues through the winter. It’s the reason why so many people who live in the northeast and other snowy areas flock to the south during the wintertime.

It’s also worth it to consider problems in other areas. If you live on the coast and in the south, you’ll deal with issues such as flooding from hurricanes. In other areas, you have the risk of earthquakes. So, you want to consider what weather you like the best and choose an area that fits your expectations.

What Type of Area is Best for You?

Once you have chosen the right climate, you have to decide what type of area and surroundings will be best for your needs. Generally, there are three primary areas from which to choose:

  • City
  • Suburbs
  • Rural

Each area has its pros and cons. We’re going to look at some considerations when you’re deciding the area that’s right for you.

Living Expenses

City Life: In cities, everything is more expensive. The taxes are higher, and you often pay more for housing. There also may be fees to park your car if you drive and prices for things like food and clothing are higher. You also will pay more money for insurance due to a higher crime rate in a city.

Suburbs & Rural Areas: Prices are lower in the less congested areas, and you may find food in farmers’ stands that you can purchase for a lower price than a grocery store. Due to a lower crime rate, your insurance rates will be lower.

Job Opportunities

City Life: There are a lot more job opportunities in the cities because there are more companies in the area.

Suburbs & Rural Areas: Depending on where you live, you may have trouble finding a job unless you have the skills to work from home on your laptop.

Noise & Pollution

City Life: With so many people living in a congested area, there are higher levels of noise and pollution. There are more vehicles, so you have more exhaust and smog to deal with, and more vehicles often mean more noise.

Suburbs & Rural Areas: With fewer people living in the area, there’s a reduction in noise and pollution, and you can sit outside and enjoy your backyard without the constant honking of horns.


City Life: In a city, it’s not necessary to have a vehicle since there are things like buses, trains, and the subway.

Suburbs & Rural Areas: Having a vehicle is almost essential without a significant transportation system. Occasionally taking Lyft or Uber is an option, but most households need at least one car.


City Life: In cities, just about anything that you could want can be found quickly and easily. There are often wide varieties of different ethnic cuisines and many boutiques to explore.

Suburbs & Rural Areas: Although they don’t have as many shops as cities do, they have different types of shops. These areas often have farmer’s markets and homemade crafts and food. An example would be Lancaster, PA.


City Life: Living in the city may give you more options for which school you want your children to attend, offering many parochial and public schools.

Suburbs & Rural Areas: Depending on the area, there may only be public schools or only have one or two parochial schools from which to choose.

As you can see, each of the three areas has things that make it appealing and other things that may make it less attractive. So, you have to decide what you’re looking for overall to help you choose.

Distance from Loved Ones & Friends

Now that you have decided what type of area is right for your needs, you have to look at the distance factor. If you’re close to your friends and family, you probably don’t want to move too far away from them. Some things to consider whether it’s wise to move far from your loved ones are:

  • Age: Are your parents still living? If they are, how old are they? Are they in good health? If your parents are still living and their health is good enough to travel, a further move wouldn’t be so bad. However, if they are older and they don’t get around as well as they did, you might want to stay closer. This way, you can get home quickly if there’s an emergency.
  • Grandchildren: Do you have children? If so, chances are that they want to be able to see their grandparents on a regular basis. This can be hard if you have moved far away from your parents.

What’s the Area’s Job Market?

Unless you have your own business and can work from home anywhere when you are looking for someplace to live, you want to find someplace with a good job market. Below are some tips that you can use to find out the market in a new area.

  • Build Networks: Using sites such as LinkedIn for building networks for the area you’re researching is a good place to start. Start by reaching out to individuals in the field and companies you’re targeting.
  • Check Out Events: If you’re a frequent visitor already to the area, use apps such as Eventbrite and Meetup to find events that are happening while you’re there.
  • Check Out Local Government: You can find out a lot by going to the Chamber of Commerce website. This can help you by telling you what to expect from the area’s government.

If you are starting your own business when you arrive, it’s also smart to see what the competition is for the area. For example, if you are starting a clothing boutique, you don’t want to move to an area with a lot of boutiques in business already.

Not only will you have the general competition from the stores, but you will also be competing with established companies that the citizens know and trust. That’s not to say you won’t be successful. You may just have more competition.

What is the Area’s Crime Rate?

Before you choose your new area to live in, you’ll want to know about how safe it is, especially if you have children or you’ll be living alone. Below are some of the handy tools that you can use to check and see the safety of the area.

  • NSOPW – This will give you the current information from all over the United States. It will let you know if there are sex offenders who are living in the area, you’re thinking of moving.
  • Family Watchdog® – Another handy online tool for searching for sex offenders. You simply enter the precise address, zip code, city or state into its search engine, and there will be a map generated showing where the criminals live. There are color codes that tell you what crime the person committed. This website also offers text and email notifications whenever an offender moves out of or into an area.
  • CrimeReportsTM – This is another handy resource which will provide information about the local crime. The records get pulled from over 1,000 agencies across the nation, and the information is updated every hour, day or week based on a particular agency. You can browse by state or search by address. After the map’s generated, the search can be narrowed down, and it will show you the crimes reported on specific times and days. You also can create a custom map and request to get alerts for the area anytime something new happens.
  • SpotCrime – Just like the above tools, this gives you local statistics for different offenses. After you search for an address, ZIP code, or city, you’ll get a map that shows where the events happen and the prevailing trends. It also provides a snapshot which will compare the crime report of the area to the months before. It also shows whether there’s been an increase or decrease in instances. It’s also possible to stay updated using text alerts whenever something is reported.

Along with these websites and apps listed above, there are other things that can help you find out about the area’s safety. Below are some more tips that you can use to find out an area’s safety.

  • Visit: Look for things that will indicate the security of the city. Things such as kids riding bikes, people who are exercising or walking dogs, well-lit streets, and homes with security systems.
  • Speak with People Who Live & Work There: Speak with residents at the local stores or events. Ask them if the sidewalks, roads, and community are safe.
  • Watch Local News: Newspapers, media pages from the area, and television broadcasts cover the local crime. Keep your ears and eyes out for the neighborhood to be mentioned.

How Good is the School District?

Even if you don’t have children currently, if you are planning to have children someday or you or your spouse is pregnant, one crucial thing to consider is the school district. You want to choose a good school district that will keep your child safe, and that will give them a learning environment that is right for their needs.

Below are seven questions that you can ask to get a better idea of what the school district is like in an area.

Is the PTO/PTA Active?

If you’re interested in being active in the education of your child, one thing you’ll want to look for is districts with an active PTO/PTA. This organization is made of school staff, parents, and teachers working together to make the most out of education. They usually have goals, such as encouraging parents to volunteer and involving the community. They often focus on things like:

  • Drug awareness
  • Bicycle safety
  • Energy conservation
  • Science and reading programs

Do the Schools Have After School Programs?

These programs invite the students to become involved in many activities once the end of the school day. Usually, these are held right at school. However, sometimes they’re held in other spots like a park, community center, or library.

They often include things like performing arts, sports, academic environment, financial literacy, creative arts and outdoor education. These programs are great ways for children to stay busy while you’re at work as well as meet other children outside a classroom setting.

What Does the Report Card of the School Look Like?

Evaluating the report card of a district will tell you a lot about what you want to know. But it shouldn’t be the only thing considered when you’re making your decision.

What’s the Safety Policy of the School District?

What are the measures taken by the district to ensure the safety of the children? Did the district staff get training that Homeland Security recommends? Is there a protocol that’s taken for different types of emergencies? When you evaluate the safety preparation of the school district will help you feel at peace with choosing the school district.

What’s the Discipline Policy of the School District?

You should ask about the expulsion and detention policies of the school. Some of the districts are harsher when compared to others, so you want to know ahead of time.

How Does the Financial Report of the District Look?

You want to know where tax dollars go and how they help the schools. Accountability, yearly financial statements, budget summaries, balance reports, and audit reports can all be found online. If you’re unable to find the reports, get in contact with the school district. Ask them for copies or links to the reports online.

How Welcoming Are Teachers?

The biggest thing you want to know about the teachers when searching for a school district is the teachers. Do you get greeted when you’re in the halls? What are the setups for the classrooms? Are you noticing a lot of interaction between teachers and students? You want to ensure that both the social and teaching environment make you feel comfortable.

Taking the time to research before choosing a school district is going to help you feel comfortable knowing that your children are in a safe and enriching learning environment. You want to find one that has a lot of involvement from both teachers and parents and that you agree with the discipline policies.

What Type of House Do You Want?

Once you have found your new area, you must decide what type of house is right for you. Before you can choose your type of house, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is my budget?
  • What is my credit score?
  • How much space do I need?
  • Do I want to rent or buy?
  • Do I have pets or plan to get them?

Budget and Credit

The first two questions go hand in hand. You have to figure out your monthly budget. This will be important whether you are going to get a house or you are renting an apartment. There are plenty of sites where you can check your credit and see where you stand.

There are also plenty of sites that can give you an idea of how much of rental payment or mortgage you can afford monthly. These sites let you put in your total household income and your monthly expenses such as car payments and other things that you pay each month before it calculates the amount that you can afford every month.

Keep in mind that whether you rent an apartment or you buy a house, you will almost always need to put money down. So that should be factored into your decision.

Space Needed

The amount of space that you need is going to depend on how many people will be living in the house and whether or not you plan to have children. More space will equal a higher payment. Yes, it would be nice to have each child have their own room, but it’s not always necessary, especially if they’re young. If cost is a concern, you can always have them share a bedroom and upgrade to a larger apartment in the future.


If you are a pet owner, there are plenty of apartments that accept certain types of pets, such as cats and smaller dogs. But there are other apartments and rental properties that either will not accept pets or who require a pet deposit. You may not want to rent with pets, especially dogs, because unless you are renting a house, you likely won’t have a yard for your dog.

Rent Versus Buy

Renting versus buying goes back to how much money you can afford and your credit. Of course, there are options for buying that doesn’t mean buying a whole house. You can always opt for a condo if you don’t need a lot of space, and you don’t need to have a large back yard.

4 Benefits of Renting Versus Buying

Not Responsible for Repairs or Maintenance: When you rent, you’re not responsible for repair costs or maintenance. If the toilet backs up or the fridge stops working, you simply call your superintendent or landlord.

Easier to Relocate: If you choose to rent, it’s easier to relocate when your circumstances change. You don’t have to worry about selling your house. Even though you may have to pay something to break the lease if you have to leave in the middle of it, it’s generally easier than finding someone else to buy a house. You also may be able to sublet the rental or negotiate with the landlord.

Rent May Include Utilities: Depending on where you live, you may have your utilities included in your rent, especially if you’re in an apartment. This can help you save money in the long run if you are watching your money.

No Taxes: When you are renting an apartment, you don’t have to worry about paying property taxes as you do with owning a home.

8 Benefits of Buying a House

Now that we know the benefits of renting let’s take a look at the benefits of buying a house.

You Can Build Equity As Time Goes By: Unlike when you rent, you are going to build equity up over time as a homeowner. On the majority of mortgages, some of the money goes towards the interest on the loan. The rest goes to your principal.

Every one of those dollars that are put towards the principal of the loan is equity, which means property ownership. After you have an equity of 20%, it’s possible to tap the equity through home equity loans, or you can refinance and get a lower rate or extend your repayment window.

Tax Benefits: There are a few tax benefits that homeowners can use, even though all homeowners don’t qualify.

Homestead Exemption: A lot of states exempt homes that are owner-occupied from some of the burdens from property taxes. Louisiana exempts $75,000 of the value of a home from the assessments. This means that a home that’s worth $200,000 gets taxed like it was only worth $125,000.

Federal Deductions: If you’re itemizing your federal income at tax time, you’re able to deduct interest paid and property taxes, which reduces your income taxes overall. This is good, particularly if you’re in a higher tax bracket.

You Can Get Rental Income: If you’re not originally thinking of buying a home as an investment, it can become one. This can totally or partially offset your insurance, tax, and mortgage payments on the property.

The simplest way you can do this is by renting out just a part of the property or the whole thing. But make sure that you’re following the laws in your area for rental properties. Some ideas are renting out your basement bedroom, renting out half of a duplex or buying a second house, and renting the whole other home out. Of course, you can also take in the short-term renters through apps such as Vrbo and Airbnb.

More Freedom for Decorating: When you own your home, you can decorate your home the way that you want. You have total control over your home improvement, DIY project, and decorating choices. You don’t have to worry about getting permission from your landlord or the HOA. You’re able to paint your walls, put in new fixtures in the bathroom, update the kitchen, finish the basement, or even put in a deck, patio, or pool.

Doing this can be a lot of fun, and that’s one thing that people love about owning their own home. They can go as crazy as they like when it comes to decorating, and no one can tell them differently.

You Have a Feeling of Community & Belonging: Since a homeowner usually stays in the home for much longer than a renter, they often put roots down in the community. This can manifest in a variety of ways. You can join the neighborhood association, throw block parties, volunteer at the community centers, join school groups, or even help out with improving the neighborhood.

When you rent, you may not have the chance or desire to do these things, especially if you know that you’re not going to be there long term.

You Always Have Someplace to Go: If you like to travel a lot, you might want to buy a house in that area. It may be a bit more expensive than renting, but you also know that you don’t have to fight with other renters for a place to stay.

Final Thoughts

Finding a place to live takes a lot of consideration. You want to know that you are moving to a safe area and you want to consider your friends and family in the decision. The place that you live in should be someplace where you can feel at home, and that will make you and your family happy.

Yes, there are a lot of things to consider. But you also want to feel happy and confident in your decision. Looking at all of the angles and possibilities will help you choose the right area for you and your family and help you build a home that you will love.

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