Choosing where to live is yet another decision graduation may demand that you make. If you’re still job searching, do you stay put for a while, head back to your hometown, move to a city you’re familiar with, or relocate to one you have just seen on a map?
If you are thinking about moving to an entirely new location for career-related reasons, applaud yourself for your bravery. It takes guts and a lot of faith to move somewhere new. Apparently, the United States is filled with lots of brave people. According to the Census Bureau, more than six million people move each year for career-related reasons.
There will be pros and cons to any move you make, whether it is to a city 30 miles away or across the nation. Make sure you’ve done your research on a city before giving the postal service a change of address form. Consider the following factors:
- Cost of living: If the salary you’re offered in a certain city seems unusually generous, the chances are it’s not just because they like you—the cost of living may be exceptionally high. This means that the salary you receive may have less spending power than that offered by another company in a different city. Before moving to a city you know little about—be it because of a job offer or to seek a job—compare the prices of certain things you know you’ll need and have to pay for. Consider the following information:
- The cost of housing, including hotels and motels
- The cost of car insurance and gas
- Tax rates, including state, local, and property taxes
- The cost of utilities, including electricity, water, gas, and phone service
- The cost of food at grocery stores, fast food places, and restaurants
Also, visit PaycheckCalculators.org to see how much you would actually bring home based on a certain salary. Some states have a high state income tax, while others don’t have one at all.
- The job market: How long you will stay with a particular company is uncertain. If you move to a city just because of a job offer, it’s important to know that there will be other job opportunities in that same city should you decide to quit that job but stay in the same location. Conduct a simple Google search or call the city’s local Chamber of Commerce to find out the following information:
- How many companies like the one you may work for are in the city
- The average salary for your occupation in the city
- The unemployment rate, and the rate in your field in that city
- If there is growth in your field in that city
- Housing: Whether you have your own place or share a residence, housing costs can take a huge chunk out of your salary. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment can vary by more than $1,000 depending on what city and neighborhood you live in. The salary you receive should allow you to afford a low to moderately priced apartment or house in a relatively safe neighborhood, preferably no more than 30 miles from your job. You can use Craigslist.org to quickly determine the average prices of apartments and houses.
- Climate: Think about your climate preferences and the city’s average climate. Luckily, most U.S. city climates follow the normal pattern of having a spring, summer, fall, and winter. But think about how happy you would be if you moved to one of those cities that stays extraordinarily cold, hot, or rainy for longer than just three months, or suffered from droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes.
- Crime: You don’t want to live in a city or neighborhood where people tell you to stay inside after dark. Before you move into a particular neighborhood, talk to people in the community about how safe they feel living there. At nighttime, visit the neighborhoods you are considering living in. You should also find out the following information from the police department or a website they can direct you to:
- The crime rate in the city and in the neighborhood you plan to live
- What types of crimes occur most (check out Spotcrime.com)
- Education: You never know when you will get the urge to get another degree or just take some interesting classes. You might hate having to commute to another city to do this. Check to see if there are colleges or universities in the city that you can afford and would want to attend.
- Recreation/entertainment: You don’t want to be bored out of your mind in a city, regardless of the money you’re making. While you don’t have to live in a major city that has tons to do at all hours, residing somewhere that has enough recreation and entertainment spots to fit your needs is important. Find out if there is an adequate amount of movie theaters, museums, night clubs, restaurants, parks, and libraries to fit your taste. If there are any particular activities you enjoy, such as going to dance classes, find out how many places offer them.
- The people: It doesn’t make much sense to move to a place where you will feel like a lone duck. Find out the following information from the city’s official website before you start packing your bags:
- The racial breakdown of the city
- The male-to-female ratio
- Age demographics
- People’s primary political affiliation
Now that you have taken these factors into consideration, you should be well on your way to choosing your next place to call home.