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Here’s the Right Way to Decide Where to Relocate

Published on: Sep 28 2020

Many people are moving from cities and major suburbs, according to anecdotal and news reports. Unfortunately, many are making hasty decisions and will wish they’d taken more time to analyze their choices.

I’ve seen numerous media reports that homes in the outer suburbs and other less populous areas are being purchased by residents of cities and inner suburbs.

I’ve also heard from those in the home building and real estate industries that the reports are true. It is apparently not unusual for new or existing homes to be purchased without the buyer making even one visit. The homes and home sites are investigated and purchased using the internet and telephone.

The actions are prompted primarily by a combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the recent civil unrest. The rise in the ability to work remotely also is a factor.

The interest in moving is understandable, but I can tell you from decades of studying retirement and working with retirees that many will have regrets because they went about it the wrong way. A few years ago, my wife, Elaine, and I realized there were few reasons left for us to stay in expensive and congested northern Virginia.

We eventually moved, but only after following the guidance I’ve given for years.You, and others who are considering relocating, whether for retirement or simply for a change, would do well to follow a similar program.The first action isn’t to examine lists or reports of attractive places to move.

These lists are based on generic information and assumptions about the features that are desirable. Those factors might or might not be import-ant to you. I also find it curious that in the rankings and ratings that are issued annually there are dramatic changes each year. I don’t think the places change so dramatically in one year.Instead, your first step should be to determine the lifestyle you want. Some people want primarily golf, tennis or other outdoor activities. Others want to be near theaters, a university or cultural activities. The list can go on and on.

It is important to consider full-year and day-to-day activities. Too often people enjoy going to an area for vacation and decide to move there. Then, they learn that living there year-round isn’t as attractive as spending a week or two there.Consider factors such as how far you want to be from a major population center and the importance of local medical care. For some people, the medical care in an area is import-ant, but it’s not as important to others.

Once you have a good idea of the lifestyle you want, start looking at areas that have the main features. You’ll probably find you aren’t looking at many areas that are on the lists of best places to move or retire. While those areas have their merits, they aren’t the right fit for you. It is important to dig into details about daily activities and cost of living in a prospective locale. Some people are attracted to an area that doesn’t have an income tax only to find out it has higher sales and property taxes or makes up the revenue in some other way.

You need to look at all the taxes and fees and determine the total.The cost of utilities and other basic expenses often surprise people. I regularly hear from people who moved and were shocked at how much more money they were paying for electricity, water or something else they used to take for granted. Others find that the internet connections or television options aren’t the quality and cost they took for granted.

Spending a meaningful amount of time in an area can be key. Elaine and I first considered Naples, Florida. One winter we rented a place there for a couple of months. The things we learned from living there day to day for two months and visiting different local communities gave us several reasons to decide we didn’t want to live there full time. It is great for many people, but not for us.

That’s why I recommend you try to live in an area for an extended period or at least stay there for brief periods at different times of the year.Once you’ve selected an area or two, it’s important to look at individual communities. I have heard from people who liked a general area very much but after living there for a while realized they should have settled in a different subdivision or area of town.Elaine and I settled on Aiken, South Carolina.

Aiken has most of what we wanted in an area. But we were attracted the most to the community, or subdivision, in which we live. The community had a lot of key features we wanted near our home and the residents are very welcoming. It made Aiken the clear best choice for us. Moving and buying a home are long-term decisions.

Too many people are making the decisions now by looking only for a place they believe is more attractive than their current location and based on things they read online. They’ll make better decisions if they take a little more time and look at more details.


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