Are you moving to a new neighborhood or city for a job, family, or a new adventure? There’s so much to consider including schools, neighborhoods, and cost of living. Each decision affects your finances. Here’s a complete financial checklist to moving.
Every city has its own cost of living, and it can vary dramatically within regions of the country. The East and West Coasts are traditionally more expensive than the middle of the country.
Before you do anything, figure out how far your money will take you. This number is a financial benchmark which will guide your other decisions.
A cost of living calculator makes it easy to figure out how far your dollar will travel in your new city. With Bankrate’s cost of living calculator, you have the option to compare two cities. The calculator is a great tool to calculate your household budget from food costs to housing.
For example, consider you’re moving from Denver, Colorado to Kansas City, Missouri. Your salary is $50,000. In Denver, the average home price is $100,000 more than KCMO. Rent is nearly $500 more.
That’s just housing. The price of insurance and food differ too.
While these calculators are great tools, they’re only a guide. Talk to friends, soon to be colleagues or a realtor in the city you’re moving to. Ask them about the cost of living. Most residents can tell you if a city is cheap, expensive, or average.
Once you have the estimated costs of your expenses, create a budget.
Rent or own?
Should you rent or buy a home? The answer to this question depends on your circumstances — both personal and financial.
If you’re going to live in an area for a long time, buying is probably worth it. Just avoid these five home buying mistakes.
Typically it takes a few years to recoup home buying costs, although there are no guarantees. The housing market always changes, and you need to prepare for that and life changes.
While banks have tighter lending restrictions, it’s still possible to buy more house than you can afford.
A home is a long-term investment, and it’s important to talk to your financial advisor along with your realtor. Your advisor knows your long-term, and short-term financial goals so consult with him when figuring out your housing budget.
If you focus on buying a home and can’t find one, renting is always a fallback option. Rent in the area of town you think you’d like to purchase a home.
Choosing where to live
Even though there are costs associated with a house hunting trip, it’s a smart financial move. If you ask, some employers will give you money to offset the cost of the trip.
Call a Realtor® even if you’re undecided about renting or owning. Have them show you the town, including home options. You get a much better feel for an area when you see it in person rather than on a computer screen.
Spend a day with a Realtor®, and you’ll quickly get a feel for the city and the housing options. You’ll also know if you should rent or buy a home.
In some states, a real estate agent helps renters too. In Florida, it’s a free service for anyone looking to rent an apartment, condominium, or home.
Realtor® know their cities well. They can tell you within minutes, the neighborhoods that match your lifestyle, housing needs, and schooling options.
Schools are an important financial factor to consider. Many parents are interested in a school system’s ranking so they can avoid private or parochial school bills.
A real estate agent is an important part of your financial checklist because of their valuable insight into neighborhoods.
Finding a mover
Once you know where you are moving, it’s time to start packing. Find a moving company is a daunting task as ripoffs are plentiful in this industry.
Do your research!
Ask friends for reputable moving companies, and then research the company some more.
Check the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
While you’re probably familiar with the BBB and Yelp, the FMCSA is a federal agency that regulates out of state moves and consumer complaints. A simple search reveals a mover’s safety record and customer complaints.
FMCSA regulates out of state moving companies. Ask the mover for their DOT number, and then verify it.
Check with your state attorney general for licensing requirements if your move is within the same state.
Purchase moving insurance
There are lots of expenses when you’re moving. Some you can avoid. Others you can’t. Moving insurance is one you don’t want to forget. Add it to your financial checklist for moving.
If the movers damage your household items, you’ll get pennies on the dollar for your expensive electronics unless you have moving insurance.
Moving insurance is the only way to protect the investment you’ve already made in your personal goods.
Financial checklist for your next move
Moving is exciting, yet it’s stressful too. While finances are easy to overlook, especially if you’re getting a pay raise, it’s important to keep your budget in mind when you’re making decisions.
Take the time to think through everything in your move. Walking into a new city with rose-colored glasses is easy. Everything appears great.
Every city, including my beloved Kansas City, has its pros and cons. Ask residents what those are so there are no surprises later.
While this is a great financial checklist, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also has one that protects you throughout your move.
Enjoy the Open Road on the way to your new city!