Moving to a new area can be daunting. You can ease the anxiety if you do your home work and take a few precautions that might not be necessary if you were selling one house and buying another one in the same area.
First consider why you want to move to a new location. Empty nesters whose family lives elsewhere often want to move to be closer to children and grandchildren. Financial considerations often enter into the decision. The cost of living may be lower elsewhere than it is where you currently live.
Whatever the reason, you should consider your motivation carefully. What may seem like a good idea on the surface could look less desirable after you factor in the aspects of your current lifestyle that may not be able to be replicated elsewhere.
For example, you may have a large circle of friends and family in your current location that provides support you need. Or if you have serious medical issues, you may need to stay close to your medical providers.
Some people want to make big changes because they’re dissatisfied with their life. Changing locations won’t necessarily make a difference; you take your personal problems with you. Make sure your desire to get out of town is for the right reason.
Your employer may be driving the decision to move elsewhere, which means you may have no choice if you want to remain employed.
Find out what relocation benefits your company may offer. Some companies will cover the costs of your move and even buy you out of your existing home. Others provide attractive financing.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Find out as much as you can about the next location before you sell your home and move. Visit the new area several times, ideally during different times of year. Make sure the new location will provide you with what you need.
Make a list of all the services and amenities you want in the new location. Like buying a home, you may not find everything you want and need. But you should be able to satisfy your needs and a good portion of what you want in the new place. Otherwise, it may not be worth changing places.
Moving is expensive. You don’t want to find out in a year or so that you made a mistake and wish you hadn’t sold your old home and made the move. In today’s volatile housing marketing, you could lose money if you sell the new home soon after buying it.
The Internet provides a wealth of information about communities around the country and homes for sale. Hook up with a good real estate agent in an area where you think you want to live and ask to be sent information about new listings that might suit your needs. Or sign up with an online listing notification service with a home listing website like Realtor.com.
Inventories of homes for sale in desirable locations are very low in some areas, which may complicate an easy move from one location to the next. A tight market can also mean that rentals are expensive and hard to find.
However, renting for a while in a new location is a good idea if you’ve never lived there. It gives you the opportunity to get to know neighborhoods in the new area and make a decision on where you want to live based on firsthand experience. Talk to homeowners in the area to find out what they like least about living there.
THE CLOSING: Check with your financial adviser to find out the monetary and tax consequences of relocating and if this is the right time to make the move.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide."
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