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Where Should I Live? 12 Important Factors To Consider

June 19, 2023 7-minute read

Author: Michelle Giorlando


If you’ve ever wondered where you should live, you’re not alone as this is a common question. Finding the right place to live can be overwhelming at first. If you have the urge to explore a new place, we’re here to help. We’ll share tips on different factors to consider as you choose where to live and how to work with a real estate agent to help you make an informed decision.

Where Should I Live?

Before you start considering different places, you should try to figure out what you want. Think about your life goals, your career and what you desire out of a community. It’s also a good idea to consider your stage of life: Are you looking for a bustling city to meet people in? Are you raising a family and need access to a supportive child care network? Are you retiring soon and looking for a quieter way of life?

Your personality and where you are in life can shape your priorities and should hold some influence on where you decide to live. Once you’ve looked internally, it’s time to look at some external factors that can help you make this important choice.

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How To Decide Where To Live: 12 Factors To Consider

There are many factors to think about when deciding where to live. Not all of them may be applicable to your situation, and some might be given higher weights than others. But, considering all of them together can help you form an idea of what kind of place you’d like to live in.

Let’s take a look at some different aspects to take into consideration.

1. Your Housing Budget

This should be an important factor to weigh when you’re thinking of moving to a new place. Whether you’re looking to buy a house or rent a place to live, you’ll need to think about what you can afford each month for mortgage or rent.

Performing some basic calculations using different budget amounts can give you a better idea about what you can and can’t afford when it comes to buying a house. When determining your budget, your quality of life should always be top of mind to ensure you’ll be able to live a happy and healthy life.

2. Cost Of Living

Your housing budget is the first step of looking at your overall cost of living, which refers to how much money you spend to cover basic living expenses, such as groceries, child care, entertainment, gym membership, dining out and so on. Cost of living is an important consideration in determining how much home you can afford and where you choose to live.

For example, if you’re early in your career, choosing a thriving city with a high cost of living, such as San Francisco or New York City, might be worth the long-term career gains. Alternatively, having more disposable income to travel, invest in hobbies or build a nest egg for your real estate investment dreams may be more important and available to you than living in an employment hub.

A cost of living calculator can help you identify how much you might need to live in a certain area, and what you can expect to pay for common expenses.

3. Local Real Estate Market

The local real estate market goes hand-in-hand with your cost of living and your monthly housing budget. As you start your house hunt, take a look at whether there’s a buyer’s versus seller’s market which can affect your negotiating power when buying a house.

If there’s a buyer’s market, that means there are more available properties to choose from, and you may be able to negotiate more. If it’s a seller’s market, there may not be as many properties available to buy, so the seller has more power in the transaction.

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4. Job Opportunities

This might be a big consideration to take into account when you’re deciding on a place to live. How does the job market look? Are the jobs available the kind that would fit your skill set? Is it highly competitive?

There are many different industry hubs around the country – if you’re interested in pursuing a job with any of them, then that could be a factor in determining where to live. You’ll also want to look at average salaries in the area to make sure that you’ll be able to maintain your cost of living.

If you’re planning on working remotely, that’s an excellent solution. However, if you’re thinking about relocating to a new state while maintaining your current job, then be sure to check with your company to see if it’s allowed. Different states have different tax rules, and your company may not operate out of your desired state.

5. Big City Vs. Small Town

As you prioritize your desired locations, you’ll need to decide what kind of location you’d like to live in. A big city can offer a variety of places to live, restaurants, arts and culture, but it can come with a higher price tag. Conversely, a small town can offer wide open spaces and a lower cost of living, but you’ll likely have fewer restaurants and activities to choose from.

Each type of place has its benefits and drawbacks, so you’ll need to think about what’s important to you. The suburbs could be an excellent compromise. You’ll generally have more space than city dwelling, with access to the benefits of the city itself. You’ll probably have a slightly lower cost of living, too.

6. Outdoor Offerings

If you’re at all outdoorsy, consider what you might like to do in your new place. Do you need a huge piece of property for outdoor activities? Or would you prefer a city with a variety of parks? Looking for places to hunt, fish, swim or play sports could be high on your priority list.

Pets and kids will also affect your plan of where to live. If you have kids or dogs, think about what they might need. Playgrounds or dog parks could be an important factor for you. You might need a yard, for example, to ensure you don’t have to take your dog out on a leash for every bathroom break, or to ensure your kids can play outside and get some fresh air.

7. Climate And Weather

One important factor to consider is your desired climate. Are you a four-season person who welcomes the winter? Or are you more comfortable when it’s sunny and warm year-round?

The weather can affect all aspects of your life which is why it’s important to take a look at the weather patterns for your desired area. Is there too much rain to deal with? Are there droughts that might affect your daily lifestyle or hobbies?

If your region of choice is below sea level and/or next to a large body of water, there’s a possibility of flooding. If you’re seriously considering buying a house in a flood zone, ask neighbors or a real estate agent about it and make sure your new home insurance covers flooding.

8. Crime Rates

Do some research on crime rates in your desired area. It’s important to remember that crime rates can vary significantly even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Crime rates can also affect external costs, such as insurance rates and costs of homes, so it’s a good idea to look into some of the safest cities in the U.S.

9. Education Systems

If you have children, or are planning to have them, this will likely be an important factor in your search for the right place to live. Take the time to research the schools in your desired area. Good schools make a neighborhood stand out, and families flock to areas with thriving local schools. Talking to parents with kids in the district can also help you gain an idea of what the schools are like.

Keep in mind that even if you don’t have kids, great schools can also raise property values.

10. Public Transportation

Public transportation might be something on your radar, especially if you don’t own a car  or don’t wish to own one in the future. Major metro areas can have thriving public transportation systems, but most of the country doesn’t have an extensive train system. Buses and rideshares are common, but make sure you research how long it would take and what the costs are to get to your frequent places.

Commuting is often part of the transportation factor. If you’ll be commuting to work, keep in mind how long your commute would be. Take any weather into account – driving during snowy months can often take much longer.

11. Proximity To Family And Friends

Another factor to consider is how close you want to be to friends and family. You may rely on them for child care, or simply want to be close enough to visit with them whenever you want.

Figure out what this looks like for yourself or your family. Deciding to live near friends or family can help you whittle down your location list. Plus, you can visit them while you’re deciding, to get a sense of what it might be like to put down roots there.

12. Your Future Needs

Thinking about the future is something else to keep in mind as you’re finding a place to live. Are you planning on living in this new location for only a few years? That might affect what type of mortgage you get, or what kind of cost of living you might be able to handle. Or are you planning on staying for the foreseeable future?

If you’re beginning to grow your family, does the area have good child care? Will you be able to afford a home big enough to accommodate your expanding family?

Even if the answer to all of these questions is, “I don’t know,” it’s still something to keep in mind as you search for a place to live.

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How A Real Estate Agent Can Help You Find A Place To Live

As you decide where to live, remember that a good real estate agent can help you find the right neighborhood and city for you and your needs. Finding one with a deep knowledge of the area will benefit you immensely. They’ll be able to tell you the nuances of each neighborhood, and any factors that could affect your decision. Plus, they’ll know the ins and outs of the real estate market to help you find the perfect home.

The Bottom Line: Choosing Where To Live Can Take Time

Deciding to relocate and put down roots is a huge decision with many moving parts, which is why this decision shouldn’t be made without careful consideration. Weighing various factors according to your needs and wants will help you decide what kind of place you want to live in.

Feel like you’re ready for the next step? Read through our house shopping guide to start the search for your dream home.

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Michelle Giorlando

Michelle Giorlando is a freelance writer who lives in metro Detroit. When she's not writing about homeownership, finances, and mortgages, she enjoys performing improv, gardening, and befriending the wildlife in her yard.