The average American will move approximately 12 times in their life depending on their living situation. But choosing a new place to live isn’t always as easy as it sounds, especially when it comes to moving out of a city you’ve lived for years. Whether you choose to stay in your hometown or move across the country depends on several factors from home prices to local culture.

That being said, how do you choose which new city is right for your living situation? And how can you prepare to make the journey? Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

What’s the most important to you?

Making a list of needs and wants isn’t just something you need to do when your living situation changes and you need to buy a new house. It’s also important to do when you’re not sure which city will be your next home. Some cities may have all of your wants but none of your needs, while others may have all of your needs but none of your wants. Your needs are the most important factors that need to be met, so it’s crucial to have those narrowed down before you begin researching.

To help guide you, here are some essential factors to keep in mind when researching a new city:

  • Climate. This is one of the most important factors to consider when moving to a new city. Don’t assume you know the climate of a given city because you know the climate of the state, either. For instance, east Texas and west Texas both have very different summers. East Texas is hot, humid, and sticky while west Texas has a climate resembling Arizona and New Mexico. Consider the ideal climate you’d want to live in and the types of activities you enjoy. If you like to go sledding and skiing during the winter months, the Southwest might not be the best place for you. If you hate humidity, you’ll hate Florida. Think about which climate would make you the most comfortable and the most happy.
  • Affordability. Affordability is absolutely crucial when you’re moving to a new place. Not only do you need to think about the average rental price for an apartment and the average cost for a house, but you also need to consider the average salary of someone living in that city and the average cost of living. Groceries may be more expensive in certain cities than others, and the same with utility services. Housing prices may be sky-high in certain cities while food prices are low, whereas elsewhere the housing prices may be low and food prices are high. Commute times also increase the cost of getting around, so make sure to keep that in mind as well.
  • Employment opportunities. If you’re an entrepreneur or a freelancer, you may not be too worried about employment opportunities because you can always work from home. But if you’re looking for new jobs alongside a new place to live, it’s important to spend some time researching the employment opportunities in different areas of the country. Job markets vary from city to city and from state to state. For instance, digital marketing opportunities may be wide open in California while publishing opportunities are most often found in New York City. Analyze quality employment opportunities in your industry and narrow down where the highest concentration of these opportunities are located. While you’re comparing job markets, make sure to consider the average income levels for jobs as well. Income levels can also vary greatly for the same job in different states. For instance, you might have a larger salary in San Francisco as a marketing manager than you would in Greenbay, Wisconsin. If you’re not working from home, it’s better to find a job before you relocate to a new city.
  • Real estate value. If you plan on buying a home in the city you’re looking to move to rather than rent, it’s crucial to consider real estate value before you buy any property. Research the current home prices in the city and state, the resale value of homes in the area, long-term value estimates, and the length of time that homes are for sale. Check out real estate websites like Zillow and Trulia to review local housing price trends.
  • LGBTQIA laws and local culture. If you’re LGBTQIA, chances are you’ve probably already narrowed down which areas are safe for you to move to before even reading this article. But in case you haven’t, it’s important to check for local laws that may impact your safety and comfort when moving to a new city. However, don’t rely solely on local laws. For instance, in certain states, it may be illegal for employers and real estate agents to discriminate against you based on your gender and sexual orientation, but that doesn’t mean every city in that state is going to feel safe to you. Check local forums to get reviews of the city from LGBTQIA people who live in the area before moving there.
  • Proximity to friends and family. When you’re moving to a new city, it may be important to you to be able to easily travel to see your family or friends during the holidays. If staying close to family is important to you, opt for a city that’s either within driving distance or a reasonable distance by plane.
  • Entertainment and nightlife. If you’re looking to live somewhere where you can be social, make new friends, and have fun, choose a city that has a decent amount of nightlife and entertainment such as theaters, clubs, restaurants, bars, and cafes. If you prefer somewhere that’s more family-friendly, consider choosing a city that has plenty of family-friendly areas such as museums, parks, amusement parks, and more.
  • Public transport and commute options. You don’t necessarily need a car to move to a new city. What you do need is reliable transportation. Check out commute times and public transportation opportunities in the cities you’re interested in moving to. You might find a city you’d love to move to is absolutely awful to drive in, and you might find a city that meets your social needs doesn’t meet your transportation needs for your living situation.

Once you’ve considered the factors above, you can begin to narrow down your list of potential new cities for you to move to and begin calling home. Of course, once you’ve made your decision on where to move to (or at least narrowed it down to your top three), it’s time to begin planning for your big move.

How can I prepare for a major move?

Now that you’ve decided where you’re going to move, it’s important to start creating a moving plan. It might seem too early to start a moving plan if you’ve only just decided which city you’re planning on moving to, but moving to a new city in a state can be a lengthy and complicated process that’s better done sooner rather than later.

From keeping an auto accident lawyer in your contacts to be on the safe side to choosing whether to drive or fly, there are many details you’ll want to figure out before your big moving day. That being said, here are a few ways you can prepare for your major move.

  1. Decide how you’re moving. Not every major move requires you to move by plane. Depending on the distance and your patience with long-distance travel, driving may also be a good option. Consider how much you would be spending on a plane ticket versus how much you would be spending on gas. If you have pets, driving to your new city is in their best interest. Just be sure to visit your local auto dealers for a tune-up before you leave.
  2. Decide whether you want to use moving services. You might choose to use moving services if you’re flying to your new city to be at your new home before the movers arrive, or you might choose to use moving services to make the trip a little easier depending on your living situation. In either case, it’s worth considering whether you want movers to help you or if you want to use a rented moving truck. With a rented moving truck, you can go through the truck body selection to figure out which truck meets your needs and then drive your belongings to your new city yourself. Moving rates differ depending on which moving service you choose, so be sure to consider your budget when making your decision.
  3. Make sure your car is ready to go. If you have a vehicle and you’re driving to your new city, it’s absolutely essential to make sure that your car is ready to make the trip. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong with your brakes, tires, or engine while you’re driving long-distance. Bring your vehicle to your local auto dealer or a trusted mechanic. If you have a small dent in your windshield, now is the time to consider auto glass repair services. It’s all too easy for a tiny crack to turn into a major one when you’re driving on the open road.
  4. Consider selling your car if necessary. If you’ve established that you don’t plan on bringing your vehicle with you to your new city because of your new living situation, now is the best time to consider your options for selling your vehicle. Depending on the state of your vehicle, you may be able to sell it to a used car dealership looking for repairable salvage SUVs for sale, or you may be able to sell your car for cash online. If your vehicle isn’t in great shape to sell all on its own, you may be able to sell it for Dodge Charger parts or other vehicle parts other car owners are looking for.
  5. Be prepared for the worst. Regardless of your living situation, accidents happen. Fortunately, there are accident attorneys for when they do happen. Make sure before you make a big move anywhere that you’re sensibly prepared for potential problems. At least 6 million car accidents occur on U.S. roads every year, and not every driver has a personal injury lawyer in their contact for when that happens. Lookup a personal injury law practice in your area and put their law firm in your phone to be on the safe side. Make sure your auto insurance is renewed and secure as well.
  6. Make sure you have enough packing supplies. Packing supplies are crucial when you’re traveling long-distance to move to a new city. Make sure that you pack heavy items in smaller boxes and lighter items in larger boxes to make them more manageable to carry. To save time and money, make sure to save up the boxes you get from Amazon and other online orders throughout the year. Depending on your living situation, you can even reuse the packing materials that come with the original package to keep your belongings safe during the moving process.
  7. Pack ahead of time. When you’re moving long-distance, time is of the essence. With your new living situation, you don’t have it in your schedule to procrastinate packing. To make sure that you’re staying on top of your schedule, begin packing as soon as possible. Begin by packing items that you rarely use but don’t want to get rid of such as old books, yearbooks, and holiday decorations. The closer you get to your moving date, you can begin to pack up items you use more frequently. Keep items that you use every day in a secure bag that’s easy for you to access. The last thing you want is to have to unbury your belongings every day during your moving process.

It’s no secret that moving to a new city can be a complicated process regardless of your living situation. But by following the tips above, you can feel confident knowing that you’re moving to a place you’ll love and feel comfortable in.