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Find the Best Place: Relocation - A New and Better Way to Move

Aug 17, 2007
Would you buy a car because your friend liked it? Would you ask a car salesman which vehicle is best for you? The answer to both questions is probably not.

How many people would move to a locale because their friends liked it? Lots. How many people would ask a real estate agent which locale is best for them? Plenty.

Why is that? It's because people are only now becoming aware of the resources available to help them find the best place to live. In the past, we didn't have any alternative to seeking the advice of people we know or had met and then guessing about whether a locale was really right for us.

Imagine: you're moving to a new area. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of locales around the area. During your relocation, you ask friends and colleagues who live in that area where you should look for a new home. You might get suggestions like: "look here, it has good schools", or "I live in X and I really like it", or "try Y, there are a lot of transplants there".

Not being satisfied, you get in touch with a real estate agent or relocation service and ask them to help you find the best place to live. They start asking you a lot of questions about what you like or don't like in a locale. Then you go out and drive around. You're still not sure. It's not that you're indecisive; it's that you don't have the right information to make the decision.

What's more, the real estate agent may steer you to locales they know well and where they have a lot of experience. It's not because they are unethical; we all tend to gravitate to that with which we are most familiar. But is that the best thing for you? No.

Choosing a locale and buying a home is one of the biggest decisions in your life. That's a lot of pressure. Add to it the stress and uncertainty of moving and you are really in a difficult spot.

But there is an easy way out. Do your homework first before contacting a real estate agent or relocation service. Get unbiased advice--use the Internet for research, the same way you would if you were buying a car.

There are many web sites that offer "relocation advice". Be careful which ones you use. Some are affiliated with relocation services and serve to generate sales leads on potential clients. Many are affiliated with real estate companies. Did you know that real estate salespeople are limited by the US Fair Housing Act in what they can tell you about a locale? It's not that you aren't allowed to know (the information is available through the Census bureau), it's just that they cannot be the ones to tell you.

So look for independent, unbiased, unaffiliated, unrestricted advice to inform your decision. How can you tell? To be sure, review the legal disclosures on the web site to determine if it's affiliated with a real estate or relocation company.

Reorder your search process. Start by determining which locations are best for you. There are several web sites that provide independent recommendations. They range from asking a few simple questions to having you completely lengthy questionnaires. Pick one that makes it easy for you to get what you need without overwhelming you.

Once you've done that, or if you already have a few places in mind, get reports on those areas so you can compare and contrast each locale. Look at housing, school, and demographic data to validate which locales are most appealing.

Now you are ready to contact a real estate agent or relocation specialist. Use the information you have to interview them. Make sure they know the locales you're interested in and have experience there. If they don't, find someone who does. This is a very important decision. Make sure any professionals with whom you're working are properly qualified to help you.
Once you've settled on a locale, get in depth information on the place. In addition to being a home, your residence is a huge investment. Would you invest $250,000 in the stock market without knowing a lot about the companies in which you were investing? No. Then, do the same with the investment in your home. Review real estate, school, demographic, and cultural facts for the locale to make a fully informed decision.

Does that make it a sure thing that you will make the best decision? No, but it does maximize the possibility of being happy with your decision. Knowledge is power. Use the web to put yourself in the power position when you move.
About the Author
Glen Franklin is a partner in Community Insight LLC, which operates www.MyDreamLocale.com.

MyDreamLocale.com helps you find the best place to live and provides real estate, school, demographic data, cost of living comparisons, by city, town, neighborhood or zip code for relocation/moving.
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