In part 1 of our relocation guide we talked about preparing for the big move and how important it is to get clear on exactly what you want in not only a new home, but in a neighborhood as well.
Now it’s time to consider the financial implications involved in relocating to a new area.
Let’s go surfin’
Hopefully, you are starting this process well in advance of the actual move and we are assuming that you’re a savvy homebuyer and have seen a lender and know, down to the penny, how much you can spend on a house.
Knowing how much you can spend and how much those payments will eat into your budget are two entirely different animals. Don’t base your budget in the new area on your current budget, even though you might know what your new salary will be.
Why? Just as real estate is always local, so is cost of living. How much are groceries in the new town? A gallon of milk in Hawaii will set you back $5 to $9 while the U.S. average per gallon is $3.45.
Utility bills vary widely among regions. For instance, that average $160 a month electricity bill in Birmingham will dwarf the $87 a month that you grew accustomed to paying in Chicago.
Check out one of the online cost-of-living comparison calculators, such as this one at CNN Money or one with more detailed results at Bankrate.com. If the cost of living is higher in the new city, you may want to shop for a home priced under the maximum loan amount promised by your lender.
Now you have a general idea of your price range for a home. You could call a real estate agent at this point (talk to me before doing that because the chances are good I can refer you to an amazing agent anywhere in the country), or you can do a little more research.
For instance, if you already have a job, and it’s important to you to live within a certain distance from work, bring up a Google map of the area and start narrowing down neighborhood choices accordingly.
Sure, you don’t know anything about these areas, but lots of other folks do and many of them hang out in the forums at City-Data.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to several acceptable neighborhoods, check the schools in the area at SchoolDigger.com and GreatSchools.org.
In part 3, we’ll take a look at what you must consider before hiring movers to help get your belongings from here to there.