Gearing up for a big move represents a formidable challenge for anyone. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, you aren’t alone. Add in the time spent scouring the internet for potential new homes, fighting to obtain financing, and overseeing the actual move itself, moving to a new neighborhood can feel impossible.
The challenges involved grow exponentially when it comes to moving to a new city. Relocating to a new neighborhood you don’t know very well brings an added layer of complexity that can be difficult to properly account for without prior experience.
If you’re thinking about moving to a new location for the first time and you’re wondering what you can do to make the process easier, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some helpful tips that make the experience as stress-free as possible.
Be Efficient When Searching
When buying a home in a brand new neighborhood or city, it’s important to prioritize efficiency throughout the process. Those who jump right in without creating a list of specific needs typically waste valuable time looking at everything in the market instead of tailoring their search to exactly what they need.
Given that you may not have a point of reference for the available homes, price ranges, size differences, etc., it’s important to narrow down your search to make sure you can find what you’re looking for in a reasonable amount of time.
The best way to narrow down your options is to determine the price range you’d like to stay within. By considering your financial information, you can calculate exactly how much house you can afford ahead of time. This helps eliminate the possibility of falling in love with a home outside of your budget. After you’ve determined a price range, you should connect with your real estate agent to discuss the style of home and features you’re looking for.
Especially when moving into a new area, it’s important to have a real estate agent that is highly-qualified and trustworthy. Since you may not be familiar with the neighborhood, your real estate agent can act as an extra pair of eyes and ears, making sure that a potential new home is exactly what you’re looking for.
Scope Out the Neighborhood
Once you have set out the characteristics you’re looking for and have kicked off the house hunt with your real estate agent, you should take the time to explore the neighborhoods and areas you’re looking in. While you may have found the perfect house, it’d be wise to make sure it’s in the perfect neighborhood as well.
If you have any children or family members attending school, you should do some in-depth research on the school districts around you. Typically, the graduation rates of the surrounding schools have a direct relationship with the quality of properties in that area. If you found your dream home, you may be lucky enough to find a dream school too. Always try to schedule a visit to a school if you can however, if that’s not a current option, look to your personal and professional network for recommendations and insight. Whether it be your prospective neighbors or real estate agent, they likely have noticed some positive or negative trends from local schools. Additionally, you can take advantage of online tools like Great Schools or the National Center for Education Statistics. Platforms like these will allow you to to further explore a particular school’s curriculum, standardized test scores, as well as any awards and certifications it may have received.
You should deeply evaluate the safety of the neighborhood you’re looking in as well. One easy way to do that remotely is to look up the home on Spokeo. A reverse address search can show you nearby sex offenders and county safety statistics.
On your house tour, make sure that you are cognizant of the small things happening around you and ask yourself does the area feel “walkable” and do you feel at ease. If you are still unsure, there are luckily several ways you can find out the crime rates of a city. Many listing services, where home buyers begin their search, now offer demographic and safety information to the public. You can also refer directly to the city offices and ask for resident resources to help you get a feel for the area. Lastly, a user forum like Reddit is a great place to find honest reviews about a city and you can sift through specific resident experiences as well.
Get Friendly with Potential Neighbors
You should try your best to get to know your neighbors prior to moving in. For many, this might fall outside of their comfort zone; however, when moving to a new city or neighborhood, it’s an important step to take. Over time, neighbors and friends will be able to guide you with some tips, make recommendations, or simply serve as a support system to help you get familiar with the area.
While on the tour or visiting a prospective home, don’t be afraid to give a friendly wave or spark up some small talk with a passerby. If you do come back to visit the area, try starting up conversations with someone in the local coffee shop. Although they may not be your direct neighbors, it can help you build connections and friendships all around the community. However, if you struggle to spark up a conversation, joining a class or group within the neighborhood will help take some of the pressure off while bonding over activities you enjoy.
If the neighborhood you’re moving into is a distance away, you can always do a little more research on who is living around you, what social media groups you can join, or how you can become involved in the community. An app like Facebook, for example, is perfect for finding groups of people who are interested in similar hobbies. To expand your horizons and meet different types of people, you may want to join a group whose activities are different from what you may typically choose. This is a great way to build support and trust from those who help you to become more familiar with the new group or activity.
Keep A Moving Checklist
No matter where you’re moving, you should create a checklist of what needs to be done before, during, and after the move. When you’re moving to a new neighborhood, you’ll probably have extra tasks to accomplish that you’ll have to need to stay on top of and account for as you go. For example, many have to enroll their children into new school districts, apply for a new doctor’s office, or update the address on official forms and documents. All of these are not typical to-do list tasks you need to check off when moving; however, they are very important to complete.
To help you develop a list of more tasks like this that need to be completed during the move, write down everything as soon as it comes to mind. If you can, you should begin developing this list months before you make the official move to provide yourself with ample time to realize all the necessary tasks.
Given that you are entering a brand new environment that you aren’t completely comfortable with, it’s important to always keep security at the forefront of your mind. As you become more familiar with navigating the neighborhood, you’ll begin to feel a greater sense of security. If you really value peace of mind when it comes to security, you’ll want to think about putting a system in place to protect you.
Some initial safety plans that many adopt are home security or homeowners insurance. These forms of protection will help to keep you safe from serious issues such as break-ins, theft, or fires. It is always your choice whether or not to implement a security system throughout your home. Though, homeowners insurance will be required if you are working with a bank or lending company to finance your home.
In a digital sense, there are plenty of ways to protect yourself from nearby hackers and security breaches. However, the best and simplest way to do so is to always be aware. For example, when buying furniture for your home from online sellers, do an information search to be sure that the seller is who they say they are. Just taking this additional step can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Similarly, as you share your information digitally with banks, realtors, and movers throughout the entire home buying process, you should prepare yourself for the presence of phishing scams. When moving or buying a new home, your information is more vulnerable to these types of attacks so it may be helpful to become familiar with what they look like and how to stop them.
Give Yourself Time to Acclimate
You may not fall in love with the house and new community on day one, so it’s important to give yourself time to get comfortable. It is incredibly normal to still feel out of place or overwhelmed in a brand new environment; but, don’t be quick to give up without indulging fully in all that the area has to offer.
You should give yourself at least a year to become familiar with the home, neighborhood, and everyone in it before making any rash decisions to uproot your life again. So take advantage of all available opportunities to get to know the new neighborhood and who knows, you may find that it’s perfect for you.
Moving to a new neighborhood doesn’t have to be stressful and with these few tips, you’ll be able to ease the transition and allow it to be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.