Before you, here are some questions to stop and consider.

A friend recently wrote that they were considering a move. Originally their family was from the north but they’d moved to the south on what was supposed to be temporary assignment. One year turned into three and they found themselves liking their new home more than they’d anticipated. They’re now confronted with a tougher choice about where to live than they’d thought they’d face. There were considerable pros and cons on both ends. 

My advice was to consider the question: How does where I live allow me to lead the life I want.

What do I mean by that? I mean you should ask yourself the following questions when considering a new place to live. Some answers are objective, some subjective but I think it helps to get you thinking about the vital role of quality places in our quality of life.

Let’s play 20 questions:

  1. What do you like/dislike about the place’s climate and how much does that matter to you? 
  2. What kind of house do you want to live in?
  3. Do you feel safe here?
  4. What kind of yard do you want?
  5. How many cars will living here require?
  6. Can you afford all of the above?
  7. If no, what will you have to cut out of your life to be able to afford it?
  8. How will you get around? Is there public transportation? Is the city walkable? Will you have options?
  9. How long will your commute be? Are you OK with that?
  10. How’s the economy? How hard will it be to find a job if you want one (or a different job if you want to change?)
  11. How long do you plan to live here? If you’re wrong about that would you be happy if you wind up staying significantly longer or shorter?
  12. What are your hobbies? How easy will it be to take part in them in this city?
  13. Will you find a church that fits you?
  14. What other community (AA meetings? Senior center? Girl Scouts?) needs do you have? Can you fulfil them in this place?
  15. Do you have any special health issues? Can the hospitals/providers support them?
  16. What kinds of foods do you like? Are their good restaurants/grocers for that?
  17. Is this near friends and family? Is that a good thing?
  18. How does this place vote? Is that how you vote?
  19. Look around. Do the other people look like you? Do they drive the same sorts of cars? How much do you want them to?
  20. And finally, as your answers to these questions change over time, can this city accommodate those new potential needs/wants or will you need to start over at question 1.

Bonus family-specific questions:

  • How are the schools?
  • How do you want your kids to get to school? 
  • Will your kids all go to the same school(s) and how will that impact how they get to school?
  • Do you want them to play in your yard or in a park or both?
  • Do you want them to play with their neighbors? If so, how close are your neighbors and will they play in the front or back yard?
  • How will your kids react to the move?
  • As your kids age will your answers to these questions change?
  • As your kids move out will your answers to these questions change?

The basic point of this is to provide some quantitative, but mostly qualitative ways to look at your decision. More to the point, it’s to get you thinking about where you live in broader terms. You’re not just buying a house, you’re buying into a community. Everything about that community – from its leaders to your neighbors to the way it’s physically laid out – will have very real impacts on how your live your life day-to-day and year-to-year.

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