How to choose the best place to live

At certain points in your life, you find that you are a free agent and that the world is your oyster. With the freedom to choose where you want to live and where you want to work, it’s difficult to know what factors to bear in mind before you make a decision that could have implications for the rest of your life.

While it’s easy to let inertia simply push you towards a big-name city, the place where you studied at college or the town where you grew up and still have most of your friends, taking the time to think through the most important considerations before you make your decision can pay huge dividends in years to come and help ensure you live a life that is as rich and fulfilling as possible.

Make a list

Start out by making a list of the places that first spring to mind. These may be places you know well or places that you simply imagine would be great to live in. If you want to look at things from a global perspective, you can simply compare a list of cities and make your choice from one of those known to have a higher quality of living, but it’s important to take such lists as face value and ensure you consider a wide range of other factors.

You should also read about the history, politics and culture of your prospective new home. Ideally, you want to be able to identify exactly what factors are drawing you to a specific location. Once you have established these, it then becomes far easier to look at other cities, make a direct point-for-point comparison and see whether they have the same potential.

Seek insider information

Once you have a shortlist of potential towns or cities, spend as much time in each as you can before making a final commitment. Speak to people who have lived and worked in the area you are interested, both natives and those who have moved from elsewhere. You should also seek out the advice and assistance of local professionals. A real estate lawyer in Houston, for example, will be able to tell you a great deal about the city and which areas might suit you best. You should also reach out to friends and family members as it is likely someone will have an acquaintance who lives or has lived there and will be able to share insider information.

If possible, try to spend an extended period of time in your chosen location. While a quick visit can give you an overall ideal of what an area is like, you’ll need to see it by day and night, during the working week and at the weekend in order to get a fuller picture of what it might be like to live there.

In a perfect world and if time allows, you should also try to visit during more than one season to get a better idea of how changes in the environment affect the quality of life. A town may seem perfect in the summer but far less so if everything grinds to a half under several inches of snow each and every winter.

Personal factors

Think about the kind of activities you enjoy the most and whether the place you wish to live will make it possible for you to take part in them on a regular basis. If you like beaches, choosing a town that is far from the sea means you will limit the amount of time you can spend there. Similarly, if you like hiking in the mountains or riding horses through the wilderness, these are also factors you need to consider.

The weather too will play a part. If you prefer staying indoors to going out, then moving to a location with a higher level of rainfall or that is known for having extremely cold winters may not matter too much. If, on the other hand, you are a dog owner, the prospect of having to go out for walks every day in the rain, bitter cold and other forms of inclement weather may make both you and your pet have second thoughts.

Whether you already have a family, or you plan to have one in the future, the suitability of your chosen location for bringing up children is something you should always keep in mind. That said, many towns and cities can change enormously from one generation to another and city that seems ideally suited now may be quite the opposite in a decade’s time.

Career options

No matter how much you enjoy your current job, of the job you plan to take up when you move to a new area, the chances are you may one day decide to work for a different company or even change careers altogether.

This could involve another change of location but if you want to be able to put down roots that are going to be able to cope with the many ways in which your life might change in the future, choosing a location that has plenty of room for career flexibility is a good idea.

Bear in mind that higher the cost of living in the place you wish to live, the less flexibility you will have when it comes to moving into another property of changing jobs. Although a small property in the heart of town might be ideal for now, if you’re forced to move further afield to get some more space, how will that affect your commute?

Think about your future requirements too. You might wish to move out to the suburbs because you think it will be a far better environment for your children, but if you spend all your time commuting then you won’t get to enjoy them as much as you would like. A long commute could also sap your enjoyment of your job itself, lowering the overall quality of your life.

Thanks to Lauren Greger

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