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.