It may seem pretty obvious, but the first thing you have to do is decide where you are going to live! You probably already have a pretty good rough idea of where you’d like to go, and if you’ve done your research already you can probably skip to step 2. But if are still mulling over your options, here are a few things to think about.

How affordable is living in this new place?

Have you considered the cost of living in a new place? Do you have a budget you need to stick to? If you’ve landed a new job with better pay, don’t assume the cost of everything will be the same as well. A good thing to do before settling on a new place is doing some research on the average cost of living. Here are a few items to look up:

This one is a pretty big deal. Do you know the average cost of a home in your new city? Do you know how much you would be spending on a mortgage every month? Knowing what the average home price is and also how much mortgage you can easily afford is a major deal. You can use a mortgage affordability calculator or speak with a licensed mortgage advisor to help get everything sorted out,

Median Household Income 
As an example, if you look up the median household income in the place you are planning on living and it is $75,000 it means that there is a portion of the population that makes less than that and there is a portion that makes more than that. Use the median income as a gauge to what you or your family brings in. If it exceeds what you make, there’s potential that you could be financially strained.

Local Taxes
This is a pretty big one as well. You will definitely want to look into taxes. Some states have much different state tax rates, and some don’t have any state taxes at all! Make sure you are well aware of what your new state taxes are as you are making your budget. Another tax you may want to pay attention to are property taxes. They usually vary by county, so if you are quite sure of where you are moving make sure to look up property taxes for your new area. This will affect your mortgage payment.

This one really comes down to your lifestyle. Do you take public transportation or drive yourself where you need to go? Is this going to change when you move? If so, try to figure out how and how much more or less it will be. If you go from a big city with public transport to a rural area where you will be needing a car, you’ll have to factor a car payment and gas prices into your budget. 

Do you have kids? Whatever your childcare situation is now, make sure you check the cost in your new location. Childcare costs can vary greatly from state to state and even city to city. 

Now that you know what to look for, can you afford it?

So you have a good idea of what factors to pay attention to in terms of budget. Based on your current or new pay from your job can you afford to live in the new place you want to move? If you can, great! If you feel like you can’t do it, go back to the drawing table. Is there anything you can change? Places you can cut a few corners to make it work? What if you were able to move to a neighboring town or a city with a smaller cost of living?

If you can afford it, will you enjoy it?

Ok, so it seems like the places you have in mind are definitely affordable for you and your family, which is great, however, is it going to be a place you will be happy in? If it’s just you that’s making the big move, you’ve probably already got that answered. If you have a significant other and a family there’s other people to consider before making the decision.

Do you want to be in a big city surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps and theres stuff to do every day of the week? Or do you and your family want a huge yard and the slower pace of a suburban or rural area? There are a lot more things to consider when there are more people involved. There are some other questions you might need to answer as well:

  • Is the weather drastically different?
  • Am I moving away from family? Will I still be able to visit them affordably?
  • Does this place have a low crime rate? 
  • What is the social scene like? 
  • How good is the job market in this new city? 
  • How good are the school ratings? 

If you’re still feeling torn about making a final decision or having to choose between a few different options, make a list of pros and cons for each choice. At the end of the day you (and your family) have to be happy with the choice you make. Whether you are moving for a change of scenery, because of a new job, or even to find a new job, you should be confident it is something you can afford and also something you are happy about.