Tips for Moving to a New Area
This past week has been a busy time with the Christmas and New Years holidays. I feel exhausted from a full schedule almost every evening with friends, family, and holiday parties. I've enjoyed it, but it has been somewhat overwhelming. One person I had a chance to reconnect with told me about his upcoming move to Chicago for a new job. Since I'm in a position that frequently deals with people moving, I was interested in his opinion. Our conversation eventually led to me asking about his search process for finding a new place to live.
"First of all, I'm looking to my personal network in the area," Ryan said. "I've been touching base with people I know from school and past jobs that also live there." I thought that seemed like a reasonably good idea. I recalled when I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado to work in the mountains. I contacted some friends from college that planned to move out to Summit County as well. In fact, we even ended up renting a place together. Lately, more and more people are accessible via email, facebook and these personal connections can be a great resource.
Obviously, the internet has changed how many of us gather information. Some of the best resources in the Madison area are the local newspapers, television, and radio stations. In fact, if I had no personal connections to an area, the internet resources would probably be even more valuable. One could look at the census bureau for demographic information, school websites, or the local chamber of commerce. One thing that I've done as a Realtor to help my clients is to compile a relocation packet that includes local maps, magazines, other useful information.
Talking to friends and looking online can be a great start, but make sure that you schedule a few visits prior to moving. There was a couple that I helped move from Maryland to Madison and they scheduled about a week long visit prior to making any decisions about housing. Other people I've worked with have scheduled a couple of visits prior to their main move.
Determine What's Most Important
Sometimes the hardest part about moving to a new area is just compiling all of this information and determining your most important criteria. For example, my friend moving to Chicago recently obtained his MBA and tends to be fairly analytical in his decision process. For others, maybe a personal opinion from a friend carries the most weight. If you have kids, then maybe school data is of high importance. Take some time to think about what's most important for you.
This past summer I moved to Stoughton, located just southeast of Madison. Honestly, I would probably like to live in downtown Madison because I like the vibrancy of this area. But when I came across this house in Stoughton, it seemed like a good enough value for me not to pass up. I am willing to put up with a 20 minute commute into Madison because I can live in a larger and nicer home. For the same housing price in downtown Madison, I would only be able to purchase something much smaller and/or older. There are others with the other viewpoint as well. One modern urbanite I know would much rather live in the downtown community where you can walk to almost everything and rely on community car or other public transportation.
Use Your Own Filter
The bottom line is that you have to use your own filter. I like to think of it as a funnel process. You can plug in a large amount of information from friends, websites, personal experience, and demographics, but in the end what matters most is up to you. Eventually you'll end up at a place that is right for you.