Finding the best place to live is not a simple matter and the move to telework may provide greater flexibility on where you live in the future. It can be complicated because there are many issues to consider.
The things that are important to one family will not be the same for others. If you have kids, you're going to want to look at the quality of the school districts. If you're older, you'll be more interested in the quality of the local hospital and the availability of doctors.
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If you're still working, you want to know about the strength of the local economy. What is the unemployment rate? Is the job market tight or are many people unemployed because they can't find jobs? What are the average local salaries? Is there an abundance of high-paying jobs?
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What about housing costs? You'll want to live in an area where you can purchase a house with payments comfortably within your income. It's no secret that real estate costs are higher in the northeast states, such as New York and New Jersey, and California compared to the same size house in the south and midwest.
In addition to the housing prices, you'll want to consider the area's overall cost of living, which includes food, groceries, entertainment, health care costs and transportation.
You can use online cost of living calculators to compare the cost of living in your current location to the city you are considering moving to.
State and local income and property taxes vary widely. Some states, like California and New Jersey, have very high income tax rates whereas other states, such as Texas and Florida, don't have any income tax at all.
Quality of Life
Wherever you live, you want to be able to enjoy your life. These are several things to consider:
Availability of health care - Are there an adequate number of hospitals in the area? And how far away are they? What is the number of doctors per capita?
Quality of education - If you have school-age kids, what is the quality of the public school system?
Commuter index - Some cities are famous for their traffic jams during rush hours. If you have to drive or commute by public transportation to get to your job, how long does it take? A long commute time can spoil all of the other benefits of a new location.
Crime rate - Serious crimes are rapidly increasing in many cities with lenient crime prevention policies, and safety is becoming more of an issue. You can use this FBI site to check the crime statistics for cities in the United States.
Air quality - If you have health issues, you may want to check the air quality reports for a big city versus a small town.
Walkability and bike-ability - This is a lifestyle choice. You may like being outside in the evenings and going to the farmers market on weekends. If so, look for cities that have hiking and biking pathways.
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Weather and Climate
Weather and climate will be major factors in your choice of the best place to live. If you're used to shoveling snow through long, cold winters, you may be looking forward to a warmer climate and wearing shorts every day in states like Arizona or Florida.
Or if you're now living in a humid climate, you may like living in Boulder, Colorado, and looking out your living room window at the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains every day.
Think about what activities you enjoy and how the weather will affect your lifestyle. Do you enjoy city life where you can visit art galleries, partake in nightlife and relax in coffee shops, or would you prefer hiking on trails outside?
Are you a conservative or liberal? You have your own values, and you may want to feel comfortable living in an area that matches your beliefs. Check into the voting record of the city and county to see if they are in line with what you value.
Are people moving into the area, or are more people moving out and home values just look attractive because they're declining? That's usually a good signal whether people believe it's a good place to live or not. Most cities and towns have something good about them. You have to decide which of these issues are most important to you.