Thinking of Making a Big Move? Use These Online Tools to Research the Area

There was a time when moving across the country was a trip into the unknown. For some, that prospect may be an exciting one. For a homeowner with bills to pay or children to raise, the more you know about a place the better.

Fortunately, today’s technology equips us with tools to learn everything (or almost everything) we need to know about a place without ever visiting. With the use of statistics, maps, and first-hand accounts, would-be homeowners can put in their researcher hats and get a feel for a place without ever even visiting.

In today’s post, I’m going to introduce you to some of those tools. So, if you’re thinking of making a long distance move sometime in the near future, read on for a list of the most useful resources that will help you along your search.

Cost of living

Most of us would love to move to Hawaii or San Francisco, but let’s face it–cost of living differences can make a huge impact on our ability to move wherever we want. Fortunately, there is reliable data on the specific cost of living for different parts of the United States.

Nerdwallet’s cost of living calculator lets you enter your current city and income and then compare what you would need to earn (on average) to move to a city of your choice. Moving to Boston, MA from Denver, CO, for example, would mean a 34% increase in costs like housing, groceries, transportation, etc.

Do you freelance or work from home and have the ability to travel wherever you want? If so, check out the Nomad List. It lets you compare housing costs, safety, weather, and–perhaps most important for freelancers–internet speeds in cities around the country and around the world.

How’s the weather?

Another important consideration for long distance moves is the climate. Not only will it determine your wardrobe and comfort level, but it also could mean more expensive heating in the winter or air conditioning in the winter.

To check out the average monthly temperatures and precipitation levels, check out U.S. Climate Data.

School scores

It’s hard to judge schools based on a few numbers, and it’s best to see what kind of programs and classes they’ll offer for your children as well. However, to get a glimpse of the nearby schools, you can check out City Data or NeighborhoodScout.

Safety

Safety is always a concern when visiting or moving to a new place. Fortunately, there are several good sources of information for neighborhood safety.

When we think of safety, most of us think of things like crime rates. NeighborhoodScout provides all the data you’ll need on crime. However, there are other safety concerns that should be addressed.

The CDC provides health data for 500 U.S. Cities. And, if you’re worried about lead exposure, this interactive map from Reuters has you covered.

Five Ways to Tell if a Neighborhood Is a Good Place to Raise Children

If you’re thinking about moving into a new home to start a family, you’ll have a lot of factors to consider. There’s more to a neighborhood than just safety, as your future children and pets will agree.

In this article, we’ll talk about some signs that a neighborhood is a good place for a family. We’ll also offer some advice on weighing those factors to find a place that fits both your lifestyle and your budget.

1. Safety

One of the most important factors in your hunt will be safety. However, there’s more to the safety of a neighborhood than just crime statistics. If you have children or pets, safety includes living on a street that doesn’t have high-speed traffic and blind corners.

You’ll want to be able to take your dog for a walk, let your cat roam the neighborhood, and go for a bike ride with your children without having to worry about the dangers of road traffic.

Another factor in safety is how well-maintained the neighborhood is. Oftentimes, neighborhoods run by homeowners associations tend to see to things like potholes, litter, and other things that could put you and your family at risk.

To get an idea of whether or not a neighborhood is a good fit, it’s a good idea to tour the surrounding streets on foot.

2. Community

Many of us can remember a time when everyone on the street knew each other. However, as we’ve gotten more digitally connected and have vehicles to travel across town, many suburban and urban neighborhoods have lost some of their sense of neighborhood community.

For a young family, knowing and getting along with your neighbors can be a big advantage. Having other kids in the neighborhood that your children can play with will be good fun for your children and it will make your life easier when it comes to play dates and keeping track of your kids.

To get a sense of the local community, ask to be introduced to some neighbors or say “hello” as you walk down the street.

3. Proximity to important services

The obvious amenities you want in the area are good schools, grocery stores, and parks to bring your kids to. However, there are some lesser known services you’ll want to keep in mind. Access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet will be valuable to both you and your children, especially since much of their homework will likely be online.

4. Scout the traffic

If you’re going to be getting your child on the bus every day and then driving to work, it’s a good idea to know what to expect in the mornings and when you come home. Visit the neighborhood during rush hour and take a test drive to your work to see if there are any unexpected delays.

5. Public services

There’s more to a good town than the lack of potholes. Check out the local library, post offices, police, and fire departments as well. Ask someone you know who lives in the town or join the town’s Facebook group to gauge whether the public services are on par with what you and your future family would want.