Relocating is an overwhelming prospect, even when the move is entirely voluntary. It’s that much more intense when you’re up against a deadline, like your first day at a new job or the start of the school year. Few endeavors demand as many rapid-fire decisions — or invite as much second-guessing.
One thing you definitely don’t want to second-guess is where you choose to relocate. Whether you’re a location-independent professional picking from the best places to live and work remotely or just looking for the ideal community within commuting distance of your job, this important decision will set your life’s course for years to come.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Place to Live
Naturally, this choice involves a lot of considerations — more than a dozen in all. Some, like affordability and employment opportunities, are obvious and near-universal in their applicability. Others, like food choice and climate, might seem less important next to dollars-and-cents issues like where you’ll draw your paycheck and how far it’ll take you. But they can still dramatically impact your quality of life and overall well-being in the long run.
Pro Tip: Does your job allow you to work remotely? If so, you could work from anywhere in the world. Companies like Remote Year will help set you up with a place to live, your own workspace, and different experiences within the country you choose.
Wealth is relative. According to a 2020 study commissioned by Money Crashers, more than 25% of Americans equate wealth with financial security, regardless of income. Another 27% define wealth as a function of quality of life rather than finances.
Still, most of us would prefer to have more money to spend and save — or at the very least, some breathing room in our budget. That’s where affordability, arguably the most critical factor for people who are moving, comes in.
In this context, “affordability” encompasses the total cost of living — not just housing costs, but expenditures like utilities, groceries, transportation, durable goods, and health care. The less you need to spend to get by in good health, the more affordable your chosen home.
I’ve never lived in a truly unaffordable place, but I’ve seen firsthand that seemingly minor changes in the cost of living can add up. Moving from a smaller manufacturing town in the industrial Midwest to a major metropolitan area with a predominantly service-based economy effectively cut my pay — which didn’t change, thanks to a location-independent job — by 20%, due mainly to higher housing and transportation costs.
Curious how far your salary might go in a new place? Use BestPlaces’ cost of living calculator to get a rough estimate.
It’s impossible to escape taxes entirely, but moving to the right place can trim your overall tax burden. For example, five states don’t charge sales taxes: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Nine states waive income taxes on most or all sources of income: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.
But sales and income taxes aren’t the only types of taxes you should scrutinize. Multiple levies — such as property taxes, school taxes, gasoline taxes, and business taxes and fees — may affect your bottom line to a greater or lesser extent.
To quantify that impact at your next address, look to the Tax Foundation’s state-local tax burden report. It calculates what taxpayers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia pay in state and local taxes.
The latest report, using data from fiscal year 2022, identifies the New York State as the highest-tax jurisdiction in the United States, followed by Connecticut, Hawaii, Vermont, California, and New Jersey. Alaska has the lowest state-local tax burden, followed by Wyoming, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Michigan.
Fortunately, most states provide property tax credits or homestead exemptions to provide homeowners with some additional tax relief.
3. Employment Opportunities
Employment opportunity remains a crucial and often decisive factor in decisions around where to live. But it’s not quite as central to the question as it once was.
Increasingly, lucrative employment is entirely location-independent. Digital nomads need only a serviceable workspace, reliable laptop, and speedy Internet connection to earn good money from just about anywhere. Still, many individuals and families who choose to relocate do so for work-related reasons.
Employment opportunities vary from state to state and city to city, so spend some time researching the job markets in different areas. Start by analyzing quality employment opportunities within your industry, then determine where the highest concentration of these jobs is located.
If you’re an investment banker (or aspire to be), you probably need to live in a big city, like New York or Boston. If your skills are more portable — say, you’re a teacher or accountant — you have a much better chance of finding work wherever you decide to move.
That said, income levels for jobs can vary significantly from state to state. All other things being equal, workers tend to earn more in places where the cost of living is high or competition for their talent is fierce (or both).
For example, a marketing manager in San Diego, California, could earn 30% more than their counterpart in Salt Lake City, Utah. But the difference might be a wash thanks to Southern California’s sky-high housing and gas prices. In any event, do your research before you move — and ideally, find a job before you relocate.
4. Real Estate Value
With real estate values in constant flux, homebuyers can’t afford to lack understanding of their new city’s real estate market. At a minimum, research current home prices and short-term home price trends, the length of time for-sale homes sit on the market, whether and by how much homes sell above or below asking price, and probable long-term value trends.
Additionally, carefully review local housing price trends. Use websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin to get a handle on the local real estate market. Or spring for a paid subscription to NeighborhoodScout if you’re serious about getting the most value for your money (and certainly if you plan to invest in local real estate to earn passive income).
The cost of real estate is important even if you have no plans to buy a home right away. You still need to make room for rent in your monthly budget. Thoroughly researching prevailing rent prices before moving (or even choosing to move) ensures you’ll find an affordable place — or avoid moving to a new city you really can’t afford.
If you plan to stick around for a while, you might end up renting for a few years until you’ve saved up a sufficient down payment for your first home. In buyer’s markets, where the ratio of rents to home values is low, you won’t need to save as long for that down payment. You’ll begin building equity in your new home that much faster too.
5. Crime Rates & Statistics
No one wants to live in a high-crime area, but that doesn’t mean everyone can live in a utopian society where crime never happens. Use municipal or state resources to research crime statistics in any city, town, or neighborhood you’re eyeing.
For example, the New York City Police Department keeps a comprehensive database of citywide and precinct-level crime reports that — though quite data-dense — can help laypeople understand the crime rates and trends in different areas. Private resources like City-Data can help too, but they’re not always reliable.
But just because an area is safe today doesn’t guarantee it will be safe in the future — or vice versa. The long-term stability of a neighborhood can be a determining factor in how safe your surroundings are.
Also, consider the development trajectory of a particular location as you narrow down your choices. For example, while gentrification has serious downsides, such as the displacement of low-income residents, localized prosperity also tends to correspond with lower violent crime rates, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
6. Proximity to Family & Friends
If you value time spent with family and close friends, you might want to think twice about moving too far from them. Driving across state lines to reunite for the holidays (or just because) takes time, and flying is both a source of stress and a not-insignificant strain on tight budgets.
If you want a change of pace or scenery that doesn’t take you too far out of pocket, consider nearby college or vacation towns with strong, diverse local economies.
For many of us, climate is a critical quality-of-life consideration. If you enjoy winter sports, set up in a place that has them in abundance — or at least where they’re physically possible. Think Colorado or Vermont, not Texas or Georgia.
By the same token, if you prefer the beach to the slopes and want to be able to commute by bike comfortably in January, then the Sun Belt is just right for you.
It’s worth noting that climate impacts more than just our physical comfort, mental health, hobbies, and what we wear. It very often shapes local economies and, by extension, employment and relocation decisions.
8. Education System
For parents, the value of living near high-quality schools is clear. But even single folks and couples without children need to consider the local education system when choosing where to live.
All other things being equal, home values tend to rise faster (and from a higher baseline) in good school districts than in otherwise comparable locales with challenged schools. And according to a study published in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, the trend is even more pronounced in the best school districts. Living in a lower-quality school zone a stone’s throw from a much better district where comparable homes sell for 25% to 50% more than houses on my block, I’ve seen this play out in my own life.
To be sure, some better-off families in my neighborhood pour what they save (and then some) on their mortgages into private school tuition. Others take advantage of state and municipal school choice programs to enroll their kids in higher-performing schools.
But many families can’t afford private school tuition or have other objections to private schooling, such as a lack of racial and cultural diversity. And school choice programs like vouchers and open enrollment have significant drawbacks, such as competition for slots in good out-of-district schools and limited school-provided transportation (busing) in some places. As a result, the only realistic option for many lower-income families is enrollment in underperforming local public schools.
That doesn’t mean you should automatically gravitate to better school districts. If you don’t have kids and are pretty sure you won’t before moving again, then you’ll likely find better housing bargains in lower-quality districts.
If you prefer proximity to world-class museums and theaters, music venues, professional sports teams, and a diverse array of restaurants serving cuisine from every corner of the world, you’ll naturally want to live in a big city or its suburbs. But if you enjoy outdoor activities that require ample space or proximity to nature, such as hunting and camping, or want plenty of property to raise crops and livestock, you should stick to the wide-open spaces.
Major metropolitan areas do have cultural amenities and opportunities that far outstrip smaller cities’ and rural areas’. But there’s enough gray area to satisfy folks who crave both.
The semi-rural exurban communities fringing most major U.S. metro areas feature a mix of housing styles — large-lot “estates” or ranchettes, traditional suburban developments, and higher-density housing around older downtowns that predate the arrival of sprawl. And they’re typically available at comparatively affordable price points. They’re also close enough to comfortably support weekend trips into the city without the added cost of an overnight hotel stay.
That said, exurban living isn’t for everyone. Many of us really are happier in isolated small cities and towns far from the nearest big city. Others simply can’t fathom living in neighborhoods without sidewalks or corner stores or dozens of bars and restaurants within walking distance.
Not all urban, suburban, exurban, or rural communities are interchangeable. Each is influenced by its unique demographic and cultural makeup. That’s vitally important and perhaps decisive for members of ethnic, cultural, or religious groups who prefer to live among others like them — whether in an otherwise anonymous suburb populated by recent immigrants from a particular country or a close-knit religious enclave in a largely secular big city.
10. Commute Time & Public Transportation Options
Despite the increasing popularity and practicality of working from home, explosive suburban and exurban growth continues to increase average commute times and time spent in traffic.
These problems are especially acute in high-cost coastal metropolises like the San Francisco Bay Area and greater New York City. In these areas, high housing prices in the urban core and surrounding suburbs compel hordes of “extreme commuters” to travel more than 90 minutes, 50 miles, or both — each way — between comparatively affordable homes and downtown workplaces.
Long commutes are less stressful and potentially less costly, if no less time consuming, in major metro areas with good public transportation options for commuters. Though the United States’ regional public transportation infrastructure lags behind much of the rest of the developed world’s, commuting by bus or rail is a realistic option in most larger cities.
If you prefer not to drive to work every day and can’t work from home, make sure the neighborhoods or suburbs you’re considering have robust public transit that runs when you need it. And use Walk Score to gauge your new neighborhood’s walkability — a proxy for how easy it is to get around when you’re not stuck at the office.
11. Food Options
For those disinclined to maintain a home vegetable garden, unreliable (or nonexistent) access to fresh produce is a significant drawback of rural living. In rural areas, the nearest grocery store that stocks high-quality produce might well be in the outer suburbs of the nearest big city. Ironically, the nearest farmers market might be in the nearest big town too.
And for logistical reasons and due to low demand, grocery delivery services that bring fresh produce to urban and suburban residents’ doorsteps tend not to serve thinly populated regions.
Of course, if you have a green thumb, you’ll want to live in a place that affords plenty of room to exercise it. A small container garden is fine for hobbyists and home cooks looking to top up their fresh herb supplies, but fully replicating your grocery store’s produce aisle (during the growing season, at least) requires thousands of square feet of raised beds.
12. Town or City Size
Do you prefer the comforting cloak of anonymity to the glare of the small-town spotlight? You’re a natural fit for big-city life.
Or do you enjoy seeing folks you know around town every day and patronizing businesses whose proprietors know exactly what you want? You’re a small-town person at heart.
Can you see the appeal of both? Perhaps you’d do best in a suburban community that’s big enough to disappear into but close-knit enough for your liking.
But remember that your preferences may well change. With age, the familiarity and solidarity of a close-knit small town could come to outweigh the promise and possibility of a bigger, more sprawling community.
13. Health Care Facilities
Everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care. This issue is particularly resonant for families with young children, folks nearing retirement age, and people with chronic health conditions.
Generally speaking, major metropolitan areas have more health care choice and coverage than thinly populated parts of the country, though localized disparities are quite common within metro areas.
Smaller towns and cities with major research universities or hospitals typically punch above their weight as well. According to The Street, the two best U.S. cities for health care access are Rochester, Minnesota (home of the Mayo Clinic), and Burlington, Vermont (home of the highly rated University of Vermont Health Network).
14. Proximity to an Airport
If you travel a lot for business, pleasure, or both, you need easy access to a major airport.
Many smaller cities have regional airports with regular service to big-city hubs. But flights out of these airports can be less reliable, especially in places with frequent weather-related delays or cancellations. And door-to-door travel times are invariably longer due to required plane changes. I spent several years in a small, isolated city with just a handful of scheduled commercial flights per day, and let me tell you: It gets old.
Similarly, consider the time and expense involved in getting to and from the airport. If you live in an exurban or rural area an hour or more from the nearest commercial airport, the most efficient way to get to the airport probably involves a personal vehicle. And unless you have a doting family member willing to drop you off, that means parking at the airport.
That’s a costly prospect. A week in a long-term lot can easily set you back $150, $200, or more. For example, long-term terminal parking at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport costs an average of $24.50 per day, or $171.50 per week. It’s even more expensive at San Diego International Airport, at $38 per day, or $266 per week (though lower rates are available at certain terminals if you book ahead).
If you live closer to the airport, you have more affordable options: taxis, rideshare, public transportation, or — best of all — a free ride from a friend or family member.
I’ve moved enough to have no illusions about the magnitude of the task. Even cross-town moves are stressful and logistically complicated. Moving across state lines, let alone international borders, is a truly heroic undertaking.
There’s one silver lining amid all this stress: Though saying goodbye to the people and places you’ve come to appreciate never gets easier, the process of moving gets a little more painless each time.
And because it occurs early on and sets the tone for what’s to come, choosing the right place to move is one of the most crucial parts of that process. If you can nail down most or all the relevant considerations before packing your first box, you’ll have that much less to worry about when crunch time hits.
Location, size, age, condition, value, and your budget are all important things to keep in mind. It's important to do your research and make sure that you're getting a good deal on the property.What factors to consider when choosing a place to live? ›
- Your Housing Budget. This should be an important factor to weigh when you're thinking of moving to a new place. ...
- Cost Of Living. ...
- Local Real Estate Market. ...
- Job Opportunities. ...
- Big City Vs. ...
- Established Area. ...
- Culture And Entertainment. ...
- Outdoor Offerings.
- Cost of living.
- Job availability.
- Desirability and happiness.
- Quality of education.
- Quality and availability of health care.
- Do I think a new place will make me happier?
- Do I expect to leave my troubles or hurt behind me?
- Will moving to a new place offer me a different kind of life, one that I want?
- Will a shift provide me with options I don't currently have?
Location, size, age, condition, value, and your budget are all important things to keep in mind. It's important to do your research and make sure that you're getting a good deal on the property.What is the best state to live in for weather? ›
Based on these criteria, California has the best weather in all 50 states. Coastal cities in south and central California, such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Santa Barbara, experience only 20 inches of rain per year and temperatures typically between the low 60s and 85 degrees.Which country is the best to live in? ›
|Country||HDI 2021/22||2023 Population|
- Making big decisions can sometimes feel like an impossible, almost paralyzing task. These tips can help you break free of uncertainty and confidently move ahead. ...
- Ask yourself the right questions. ...
- Make time for quiet reflection. ...
- Give yourself a deadline. ...
- Trust your gut.
Anyone should be able to make the first move. There is only one first move that is the grandest of them all — the very first initial interaction that signals interest between couples. That can come with a handshake, a flirty smile, the passing of a business card, or the inquiry for a phone number.What are reasons for moving? ›
- Education. ...
- Relationship/Lifestyle Changes. ...
- New Job/Reduced Commute. ...
- Closer to Loved Ones. ...
- More Suitable Climate. ...
- Needing More (or Less) Space. ...
- Neighbors or Neighborhood Changes. ...
- Change of Scenery.
- → 1. Qualifying Credit.
- → 2. Proof of Income and Finances.
- → 3. Cash Needed to Close On Your Home.
- → 4. Home Buying Budget.
- → 5. Mortgage Loan.
- → 6. Mortgage Pre-Approval.
- → 7. Real Estate Agent.
- → Final Thoughts.
- Tip 1: What Does Your Perfect Home Look Like? ...
- Tip 2: Determine Your Housing Budget. ...
- Tip 3: Will You Need a Mortgage? ...
- Tip 4: Consider The Location of Your New Home. ...
- Tip 5: Do Your Research. ...
- Tip 6: Talk To a Real Estate Agent. ...
- Tip 7: Be Flexible. ...
- Tip 8: Proceeding to The Buying Process.
- The features you've always wanted: ...
- The neighborhood and surrounding area: ...
- Lot location and size: ...
- The age of a property: ...
- Your ideal home style: ...
- The right amount of space: ...
- A layout you love: ...
- The potential for future projects:
The safest place in the world is Iceland, which ranks number one on the 2022 Global Peace Index.How is the best city to live in? ›
In the 2022 list, Bangalore secured first position, followed by Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Coimbatore, Vadodara, Indore and Greater Mumbai. Cities are judged based on culture and environment, stability, health, infrastructure and education.Where is the best place to start over? ›
St Louis, Missouri is the top-rated city in the U.S. for people looking to start over. New York City is the most difficult city to move to for a fresh start. Hartford, Connecticut has the best social scene score. Birmingham, Alabama has the best cost of living score compared to other cities we studied.Where is the most comfortable place to live in the United States? ›
Its 2022 ranking for the best places to live looked at five metrics: job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration. The best place to live in America is Huntsville, Alabama, followed by Colorado Springs, Colorado.What state has the best 4 seasons? ›
Thanks to the mild climate and exquisite scenery everywhere you look, Western North Carolina is the best place to live experience all four seasons. Whether you want to lead an active lifestyle or simply relax and watch the scenery change throughout the year, Western North Carolina has it all.Which state has the safest weather? ›
- Five of the least disaster-prone states:
- New Hampshire.
Amazing natural beauty, a strong economy, and friendly people are some of the biggest advantages of living in the USA. I believe these factors make up for the downsides, such as the corporate culture and expensive healthcare system. Overall, the USA deserves the reputation as one of the greatest countries in the world.
Getting married and having a child stand out clearly here. Other fairly common big life decisions include starting a new job and perusing a degree. Less common, but among the highest ranked life decisions, include ending a life – such as that of an unborn child or a dying parent – and engaging in self-harm.How can I improve my decision making in life? ›
- Don't let stress get the better of you. ...
- Give yourself some time (if possible). ...
- Weigh the pros and cons. ...
- Think about your goals and values. ...
- Consider all the possibilities. ...
- Talk it out. ...
- Keep a diary. ...
- Plan how you'll tell others.
- Get rid of unwanted items.
- Keep all moving documents in one place.
- Start as early as possible.
- Find a moving truck with a ramp.
- Use the right size boxes.
- Save the essentials for last.
- Label your boxes with detail.
- Pack one room at a time.
"When a person values a woman making the first move, it shows that they appreciate a woman's confidence, the sureness of herself, and initiative," says Cook. "It's healthy to have a partner that celebrates us when we are living with clarity and courage.Why girls don t text first? ›
Some ladies do not text first because they want you to initiate the contact yourself. They enjoy the thrill of being chased and at the center of their significant other's attention. As a result, they would lay back and allow the other person to always reach out to them first.Why don t females make the first move? ›
Psychotherapist and life coach Neeta V Shetty attributes it to traditional and cultural reasons. She says, “The fear of rejection stops them from making the first move. Many women also feel shy to do so.” The belief that it's always the man's job to make the first move may also be a deterrent for women.What's the number one reason people move? ›
They Want to Be Closer to Family
Often, major life changes can inspire people who moved away from home to come back. In some cases, parents might pack up and move to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Deciding to move closer to family has many benefits.
- Do the figures add up? ...
- What's the crime rate like? ...
- Is there good access to public transport? ...
- Are there plenty of local amenities? ...
- Is the area well-served by schools? ...
- Is there plenty of entertainment? ...
- Is there sports and leisure facilities? ...
- What's the parking like?
- You're bored with your job. ...
- You're stuck in a rut. ...
- You feel like something's missing, but haven't made enough effort to find it. ...
- You won't have a support system in a new city. ...
- You can't afford it.
You can choose any state to be your domicile state, but there are three states that are “domicile friendly,” making them popular choices for location independent workers: Texas, Florida, and South Dakota.
States With Lowest Cost of Living
Mississippi is the state with the lowest cost of living in the US, with a cost of living index of 85. This means that the cost of living in Mississippi is 15% lower than the national average. The state has a low cost of housing, groceries, and utilities.
- Research your new city. ...
- Check cost of living differences. ...
- Download and Start Working Off of a Moving Checklist. ...
- Find a home. ...
- Plan a visit. ...
- Figure out moving and storage options. ...
- Set aside extra money for moving. ...
- Downsize and declutter.
Legally, you can have multiple residences in multiple states, but only one domicile. You must be physically in the same state as your domicile most of the year, and able to prove the domicile is your principal residence, “true home” or “place you return to.”What states are the easiest to change your name? ›
Easiest States To Change Your Name
Because of Full Service, by EZ Name Change, California, Georgia and Illinois are considered among the easiest and surest ways to get a name legally changed.
nounthe act of moving. change of address.What is the #1 expensive state? ›
1. Hawaii. Hawaii is truly a paradise, but it is also the most expensive state in America to live in. The cost of living in Hawaii overall is 86% higher than the national average, and the cost of housing in Hawaii is a jaw-dropping 207% above the national average.Where is the cheapest place to live in the USA? ›
In its report, Niche also ranked the cheapest places to live in the U.S. At the top of the list this year is Brownsville, Texas. Brownsville has been steadily rising in Niche's Lowest Cost of Living ranking over the past few years, placing number six in 2021, number three in 2022 and finally, number one in 2023.What are the cheapest blue states? ›
Regarding affordability, the report indicates that Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are the most affordable states with Arizona, Nevada, and Florida being the least affordable.How do I start a new life and pick up? ›
- Look for lessons to take with you. ...
- Decide what to tackle first. ...
- Build some courage. ...
- Find the roadblocks. ...
- Stop being afraid of setbacks. ...
- Start challenging your comfort zones. ...
- Build a support group. ...
- Get your emotions in check.
- Tip 1: Start Planning Early. No matter where or when you plan to move out, the best thing you can do is start early. ...
- Tip 4: Get Rid of as Much Stuff as Possible. ...
- Tip 5: Ask People to keep their Newspapers for You. ...
- Tip 6: Recruiting People to Help You.
In 2020, the average American contributed 8.9% percent of their income in state taxes. Alaska had the lowest average overall tax burden – measured as total individual taxes paid divided by total personal income – at 5.4%, followed by Tennessee (6.3%), New Hampshire (6.4%), Wyoming (6.6%) and Florida (6.7%).Who pays the most taxes? ›
The highest-earning Americans pay the most in combined federal, state and local taxes, the Tax Foundation noted. As a group, the top quintile — those earning $130,001 or more annually — paid $3.23 trillion in taxes, compared with $142 billion for the bottom quintile, or those earning less than $25,000.What state has cheapest property tax? ›
1. Hawaii. Hawaii residents enjoy the lowest property tax rate in the U.S. However, the high cost of living and limited housing opportunities make it a very expensive place to live.