Relocating to a new town is an exciting adventure, but the key to a successful move lies in thorough planning. Before packing your bags and heading to a new community, it’s crucial to invest time in understanding the area. Loads of research can be done online before a move, but the best way to really get a sense about your new town is to plan a town visit.
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If you’re going to be relocating to a new city, state, or even country, you want to plan a visit that checks on all the major factors that will affect your life after your relocation. Here’s a step by step guide to planning a town visit before you move to a new town:
- Research the Town: Start your journey by conducting extensive research about the town you’re moving to. Look into its history, demographics, climate, local economy, and any unique features that make it stand out. Online resources, community forums, and local government websites are valuable tools for gathering information. Also take advantage of local Facebook groups where you can “spy” on the locals and see the things they are talking about in your future town.
- Identify Key Neighborhoods: Towns often consist of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own character and amenities. Identify potential neighborhoods based on factors such as proximity to schools, parks, shopping centers, and your workplace. Online maps and real estate websites can be helpful in visualizing these areas. But there is no way to really get a sense of what neighborhoods you might love (or hate) unless you visit. If you’re particularly interested in a certain neighborhood, make sure you do a drive by at various times of the day, and on week days and weekends.
- Connect with Locals: Join online community forums or social media groups related to the town. Engaging with current residents can provide valuable insights into the community’s vibe, local events, and hidden gems. Ask questions about schools, safety, and community activities to get a real sense of what living there is like. Speaking with people who already live in your future town is really the best way to get a sense of what living there is like. Bonus if you can connect with others who have recently relocated there themselves!
- Visit During Different Times: Plan your town visit at various times of the day and week. This will give you a better understanding of traffic patterns, noise levels, and the overall atmosphere. Exploring the town during weekdays and weekends can provide a well-rounded perspective on daily life. And try to spend one day on your visit living a “normal” day. Of course you’ll want to hit all the highlights, but see what it’s like to do the things you normally do in your day-to-day life. Try a practice commute, working at a local Starbucks if you’re a remote worker, or going to the gym if that’s part of your routine.
- Explore Local Amenities: Take the time to explore the town’s amenities and services. Visit grocery stores, medical facilities, recreational areas, and cultural spots. Evaluate whether these amenities align with your lifestyle and preferences. Pay attention to the quality and accessibility of these services. If the amenities you love are in the next town over, take a quick trip to see if you’re willing to make the drive or whether you might reconsider the town you’re relocating to.
- Schools and Education: If you have children or plan to in the future, research the local school system. Schedule visits to schools in the area, talk to teachers and administrators, and assess the overall educational environment. A good school fit is often a crucial factor for families. Online school ranking sites can be helpful, but usually don’t give the entire picture of the school.
- Transportation and Commute: Evaluate transportation options and your potential daily commute. Test the local public transportation system, check traffic patterns, and estimate the time it takes to reach key destinations. A realistic understanding of your commute is essential for long-term satisfaction.
- Cost of Living: Examine the cost of living in the new town. Consider housing prices, property taxes, utility costs, and other living expenses. Compare these with your current location to gauge the financial impact of the move. My favorite online resource to do this is Nerd Wallet’s cost of living comparison. Check it out here.
- Local Job Market: If your move is tied to a job opportunity, research the local job market. Understand the industry landscape, network with professionals in your field, and explore potential job prospects. A thriving job market can significantly contribute to your overall satisfaction with the move.
- Safety and Crime Rates: Investigate the town’s safety and crime rates. Utilize online crime maps and statistics to identify any safety concerns in specific neighborhoods. Some towns will have public safety offices that can speak to the public directly about safety concerns. While real estate professionals are not legally allowed to advise you on local crime- public safety officers can and will give you an honest look at the type of crime a community sees on a regular basis.
When it comes time to visit a town you are considering relocating to, you don’t want to visit like a tourist. You should be intentional about the time you spend visiting your future town and try your best to get a sense of what it would be like to live there.
Download our FREE MOVING WORKBOOK with printable checklists, guides, and worksheets to help plan your future town visit along with the rest of your move. Click here for the free download!