People ask me for advice at all stages of the moving process from how to tell the kids to how to meet people in a new city. Before you get to that point, though, you want to figure out if the hassle of moving is worth it. Then, after you decide that it is the right time to move, you get to the next question. “Should I move to Seattle (or Boise or Miami)?” Here are some things to consider before you move to another city.
Should I move . . . in general?
A friend of mine who has lived in Skokie, IL, his entire life told me, “I’m sure I’ll want to move after I read your book.” This surprised me. “Why would you move?” I asked him. “You love where you live.”
To set the record straight, I’m not a moving advocate. If you’re happy where you are, by all means, don’t change a thing. I’m here to help make your move a happier one, if you decide to move. You don’t need to move to be happy.To figure out whether this is the right time for you to move, consider your one-year and five-year goals. Write down your goals and see if they align with your reasons for moving. For example, if your goal is to become a company executive in five years and you’re moving for career advancement, then the move fits with your long-term plans. However, if your primary goal is to spend more time with family, but your move would mean international travel two weeks each month, this may not be the ideal move for you. If you want to delve into a more comprehensive exercise to decide what’s important to you, check out my post about How to Design Your Life After You Move.
Should I move to Atlanta, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C.?
Maybe you’re looking for a change or maybe you have job interviews lined up in several cities. How do you decide where to move when you don’t live nearby?
Consider the cost of living in the new city as well as the opportunity cost of not moving
Moving is expensive and the cost alone can deter some people from moving. Then, there’s the additional hurdle of moving to a city that’s more expensive than where you live now. If you’re wondering, “Should I move to Silicon Valley?” and you plug that into a cost of living calculator, the answer you’ll get is, “No.” But, what about the cost of not moving for a life-changing opportunity? Weigh both sides of the equation.
Visit online forums and ask, “Should I move to [insert city name here]?”
Go onto Reddit or the City-Data forums and ask whether moving to New York City is a good idea. You will get plenty of advice from locals and newcomers. It’s a good way to discover information that you won’t find out by googling “New York City”. You’ll learn some colorful city facts, which may help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Investigate housing options (and please rent)
Start looking at houses to buy and apartments to rent. On my resources page, you can find links to the most popular housing websites. Even though I recommend looking at places to buy, please, please rent if you are moving to a city you don’t know well. Want to know why? Here’s my (strong) opinion on this one.
Figure out what you love about where you live now
Dan and I made the mistake of moving to a city that wasn’t a good fit for us. While we made a pros and cons list of moving to Knoxville, we ignored a critical part. We didn’t write down the daily things we loved about living in Chicago. If I had been more aware of what made me happy and created a city gratitude journal, I would’ve had a better understanding of what I was leaving behind. So, before you make your decision about whether to move, write down three reasons every day about why you feel grateful to live where you live now.
Visit the new city to see if you would be happy living there
If you’re asking, “Should I move to Chicago?”, then you need to visit Chicago – but not as a tourist. There’ll be time for The Bean when you actually live there. You need to act like a local for this scouting visit. If possible, rent a place for a few days in the neighborhood where you’d most like to live. Then, make your commute to work in rush hour traffic. Visit Target, the local shops, and the home improvement stores because that’s really where you’ll be spending your time on weekends. Go back to your city gratitude journal and see if you can still do the activities that bring you joy.
Remember that you have a choice
One predictor of happiness in life is the feeling that we have choices. I’ve spoken to people who felt as if they needed to move because of a job or to provide for their family. Recognize that you do have a choice. Maybe the alternate scenario isn’t ideal – you never planned to live in your parents’ basement with your husband and kids – but you do have options. You are in control of your future, even if it’s not on the exact timeline that you imagined.