Bold question. Exciting question! Potentially scary question. With so many factors and emotions tied up in a decision like this, it can be a challenge to know what the best thing to do is.
But you don’t need a flashy sign spelled out in packing tape to make a decision. All you need is some self-awareness and practical wisdom to think through your options when deciding to move to a new city.
Start by considering these questions!
Have You Fully Researched Where You’re Moving?
Does your main motivation for moving to another city sound anything like one of these?
- “I mean, if Philadelphia was the city that built Rocky . . . ”
- “I can just see myself there.”
- “They don’t call it Men-ver for nothing.”
Well, honey, hold on to that hope, but pair it with some hard and fast research to make sure your dreams are lining up with reality. Ask yourself:
Can you afford it?
This is your litmus test for whether the city you’ve got in mind makes sense for your income level and lifestyle. Use this Cost of Living Calculator to compare common expenses, like food or housing, between where you currently live and where you want to move. Even if you find that the new city isn’t quite a match at this point, you’ll be able to see what it would take financially to get there.
What else do you need to know?
Check out online neighborhood databases like NeighborhoodScout.com. Sites like these give you hyperlocal insight into factors like education, crime and demographics in cities across the country. Your list of research topics should look something like this:
- Job opportunities
- School reviews
You get the picture. Starbucks per capita, sinkholes. The list could go on and on.
What do the locals say?
Bring the data you’ve collected to life by reaching out to a few folks who live there or have recently. Ask their thoughts on questions you may have about what you’ve found and get a feel for their experience of the city.
Find expert agents to help you buy your home.
If you can’t think of anyone off the top of your head, try making connections via social media. When in doubt, give the city itself a ring. The City Hall or local Chamber of Commerce should have new resident resources or guides to help you get familiar with what’s going on there.
If you want to add a little oomph to your research, check out our Ramsey Relocation Guide. This guide maps out each step of your move, from nailing down your destination to securing housing, so you can start your journey with peace of mind.
Are You Moving for Work?
New city means new job market. Whether a new nine-to-five is your motivation to move to a new city or not, you don’t want to move forward until you figure out what impact a new city has on how you bring home the bacon.
Yes, I want to get out of this career rut.
We believe plain and simple that life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate. But before you bake an I QUIT cake and hire an acapella group to deliver it to your boss while singing “Bye Bye Bye,” try to understand what about your current situation isn’t working. Talk your concerns through with your current employer. There could be other opportunities within the company that might be a better fit and wouldn’t require you to uproot your life.
Now, if you know your spirit has simply left your work, then it’s probably time to take your body also. It might even be your chance to pursue a career change, which very well could require a move to a new city. Research opportunities in the field you want to break into. Find out where jobs are, how your experience translates, and what training you still need. While you’re working on that, secure a savings of 3–6 months of expenses and maintain a day job to pay the bills while you’re setting yourself up to turn your dream to reality.
Yes, I've got a new gig lined up.
You may already have an awesome job in the pipeline—way to go! But we’d still encourage you to approach the opportunity from all angles before you decide to move—even if it comes with a big fat raise. You don’t spend all your life working, anyhow. So, ask yourself:
- If something happened to this job, would it still make sense to live in this city financially and socially, given my current life stage?
- Is this workplace or this city somewhere I can and want to grow my career? My family? My community?
- If not, are my family and I open to moving again when it’s time to take the next step?
If you feel good about the answers to those questions, then by all means, pop the champagne and get to work on negotiating your relocation package.
Nope, is that a problem?
Maybe you’re retired, work remotely, or have a career in a field like education that’s relevant anywhere, so a job really isn’t a huge factor in your move. Totally get that. But it’s still important that no matter what your motivation to move is, you make sure your income will be enough to support you and your family in a new city.
Do You Know People There?
If you're reading this, chances are you’re a human—meaning no matter how introverted or evolved you think you might be, you still need other people. That’s why decisions involving other people are tough! If you find yourself caught in an emotional tug-of-war about the move because of who you do or don’t know in this new city, take a step back, a deep breath, and think about the following.
Yes, I’m moving for love.
When things get serious, it very well might be time to take the distance out of your long-distance relationship. But remember, serious doesn’t just mean you really, really like them. If you haven't been together long, things have been rocky, or this person is literally the only good thing about the move, you and your significant other might want to try phoning a friend for advice.
Share (don't sell) the move situation with a truth-telling friend who knows you both. Ask if they see any blind spots or red flags, then shut up and listen. If they love you and want the best for you both, they’ll offer you whatever wisdom they can.
Yes, I want to be closer to family and friends.
If you have some connections or family there and sincerely want to be in closer proximity with them, that's great! If you feel more pressure than desire to be closer to loved ones, ask yourself where that’s coming from. Either way, avoid making a purely emotional decision by thinking about where you want to be 10 years from now. Does this move help or hurt in getting where you want to go?
Nope, don’t know a soul.
Whether the thought of not knowing a soul excites you or scares the eyebrows clean off your face, take an honest inventory of your personality and your lifestyle. Do you have a consuming job that will make it difficult for you to develop community? Is there something in your current city that you’re running from? Are you emotionally ready to put yourself out there?
On the flip side, don't discount the idea of a move because it’s scary or intimidating. It’ll likely never feel like a convenient time to do something hard. If you know deep down the move is the right thing, even though it doesn’t feel that way, you’ll be okay.
How Do You Know if You Should Move?
Now that you’ve got some questions to get you started, think seriously through your motivations for moving and what reality is telling you. Talk it over with trusted friends, pray about it, and set a decision deadline so you know you’re not avoiding or overthinking it.
If you’re already feeling confident about pulling the trigger on your move, set yourself up to rock the next step.
One of the biggest hurdles in moving to a new city can be buying or selling your home. So put yourself in a position to clear it by choosing a pro who can help. Check out the only real estate agents we endorse to help you navigate major financial decisions, like buying the right home in a brand-freaking-new city.