If moving to a new city is on your agenda, make research a part of your plan. You don’t want to blindly move somewhere without scouting it out first. Well before moving day, get online and on the phone to research anything from municipal services and cable providers to doctor’s offices and coffee shops. Book a tour with the local elementary school for your kids, and find out where the local dog park is.
Starting now will ensure your new city will feel almost like home from the very first day.
1. Check Neighborhood Databases
There are several online databases that collect and analyze important information on U.S. cities. Sites like City-Data.com display profiles of cities with statistics such as population, cost of living and median income levels. NeighborhoodScout digs a bit deeper, giving detailed descriptions on area demographics and characteristics. StreetAdvisor is hyper-local, meaning it focuses on ranking neighborhoods and streets for popularity. Is walkability important to you? Check out Walk Score rates for your neighborhood based on its proximity to schools, stores, coffee shops, and parks.
2. Call City Hall
One of the best sources of information out there is city hall. When you call, ask them about new resident resources, or go to their website to find out everything from trash and recycle pickup to voter registration and common utility companies for the area. The local Chamber of Commerce is another great resource if you want suggestions on the best restaurants or businesses around.
3. Look into the Commute
Find out what the typical commute length is before you move. If you’ll be driving in, consult traffic overview on Google Maps, which gives accurate traffic estimations by the day, hour and minute. If public transportation is what you’ll be using, check the schedules and map the routes. Most transit authorities have an online “Plan My Route” feature that tells you all about train switches and bus transfers that add to your commute time.
4. Peruse School Reviews
If you have kids, and even if you don’t, look into the local school system to make sure it’s strong. Strong schools equal strong neighborhoods and higher property values. GreatSchools is a good resource to start with that ranks local schools on a 1–10 scale.
5. Learn About Crime Rates
Many city police departments publish crime rate information on their websites. You could also check out CrimeReports, Family Watchdog (sex offender registry), and SpotCrime — all helpful online databases specializing in analyzing local crime statistics by area and type of crime.
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