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How to Find Housing When Moving to a New City

by Jann Seal

Moving is stressful, and moving to a new city is even moreso when you consider the learning curve you’ll be experiencing. A new home in a new town means new customs, hangouts, friends and a new lifestyle. Nothing is the same, except the furnishings you bring with you. Rent before you buy to test a location, if your family needs allow. Tackle your project of finding a home in a new city by researching different neighborhoods, budgeting realistically and speaking with people who already live there.

Start researching your new city's housing market several months before your move. Find online sources that include local rental laws, the school districts, neighborhood information and properties for sale or rent. Get information from the chamber of commerce website. Read the local newspapers online to find news about the different areas that may sway your decision.

Determine if location is of prime importance, especially if you’re starting a new job. Question commuting times by car or public transportation and the hours you’re expected to work. Get a map of the town and its suburbs, draw a circle around the area that satisfies your commuting parameters, and start looking within the circle. Interview schools, if you have a family, before deciding on a neighborhood.

Tap into your social networking sites. Mention you’re looking for a place to live in a specific city and request connections. Speak with colleagues to get recommendations on neighborhoods. Get referrals from your company’s human resource department. Ask friends who already live in the city for suggestions. Walk neighborhoods to get a feeling for each. Be flexible in your wants and needs until you completely understand the market and be open to whatever style and size of housing is shown you, as long as it's within your price range.

Scan online real estate websites for rentals or homes for sale to get an idea of pricing. Read the local newspaper’s online and printed rental or sale classifieds for properties. Speak with a local real estate agent, as most handle both rentals and sales. Determine the local practice regarding payment of a commission, and if your new area doesn’t demand the buyer or renter pay, consider selecting one agent to do your legwork. Use several agents or property finders if you're looking for a rental, and pay the one who finds you the right property if you’re paying the commission. Be cautious if you don’t meet the landlord if you're renting, and verify ownership of the rental property before exchanging any money.

Tip

  • Rent in a convenient area for a year, take advantage of the time you have to search for the perfect property, and your next move should be into the perfect home. Buy only if you're sure the new location fits your needs and is within your price range.

About the Author

Jann Seal is published in magazines throughout the country and is noted for her design and decor articles and celebrity *in-home* interviews. An English degree from the University of Maryland and extensive travels and relocations to other countries have added to her decorating insight.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images