Location, Location, Location

You've probably heard that the three L's of real estate are location, location, location. Choosing the right location is an important part of the moving process, whether you're renting an apartment or buying a house. If you're happy where you're at, that makes things a little easier. Otherwise, now might be the right time to consider a new area.

Weather is an obvious thing to consider when choosing a new location. Do you like skiing, snowboarding, or maybe building the occasional snowman? How about swimming, wearing shorts, getting a natural tan, or outdoor activities in general? If you said yes to everything, be sure to focus on an area with a change of season.

How about employment? Relocating for a job that has already been secured is a popular reason for moving. If that's not the case, remember that pay can vary a lot in different areas. What pays well in your area might not somewhere else.

Terrain is another thing to think about. Some people are used to looking out there window and seeing mountains or skyscrapers. It might seem strange to them when they move to an area where the tallest thing they see is the telephone pole in front of their house. Not all areas have beaches, lakes, or even malls for that matter. Just look around at your surroundings and decide what you can't picture giving up, or if there's anything missing that you'd like to have.

A few other things to consider that can vary greatly state-to-state:

  • Taxes
    • Property Tax: Something you'll want to consider if you're buying a house.
    • Sales Tax: Some states don't have it while others have too much of it. Even the difference between six and eight percent adds up.
    • State Income Tax: Same deal as sales tax. Some states have it, some don't.
  • Insurance
    • General: Be sure to check rates on medical, renter's and homeowner's insurance and compare them to what you're currently paying.
    • Car Insurance: Always look into this one, as it can vary a lot . Some states (NJ comes to mind) will rob you, but others aren't quite as bad. This is especially important if you need to insure several vehicles.
  • General
    • Shopping: Not every area has a mall, Wal-Mart, Food World, Best Buy, etc. Luckily, most of the chains have websites, so you can use their store locator to see how close you'll be to them.
    • Food & Restaurants: Think about this one! It's a common mistake to think food is food. My example: I lived up north (NJ and PA), where pizza actually tastes good. Then, I move to Florida, where Papa John's is about as good as it gets. I can honestly say that the closest thing I get to real pizza is at the food court in the mall.
    • Value: This one is for home buyers. Research the area and see how well your property will hold it's value. Check out Zillow.com's property value estimator. It's free to use and can come in handy.

Of course, there's much more to consider, some of which is covered in the next section.