Have you ever wanted to move to a new city, but couldn’t decide where? This guide is for you! With an influx of companies moving towards remote work and more employees asking to work from home, you might be considering relocating.
Even if you don’t work remotely, some people are moving from high cost of living areas to lower cost of living areas so they can afford to become homeowners and save more money. On the other hand, some individuals are ready to move from a smaller town to a big city to experience a different scene and access a larger job opportunity pool.
The best places to live in the U.S. will be different for each person based on their goals and lifestyles. Before you buy a one-way plane ticket to a new city, ask yourself the following questions.
1. Where Can You Afford to Live in the U.S.?
First and foremost, your budget will dictate where you can afford to live. Here’s a secret: the best places to live in the U.S. are the places that you can afford! Manhattan and Los Angeles are two of the most popular and lively cities in the U.S., but they’re also some of the most expensive. For example, the average monthly rent for a Manhattan apartment is $4,208. It’s best to set your budget up front so that you don’t fall in love with a city that you could never afford to live in at the moment.
If you’re moving to a larger city for a job opportunity, try to negotiate a relocation package that will help you adjust to a higher cost of living. Additionally, make sure your salary increase is enough to cover your monthly living expenses.
Realistically, you should aim to spend no more than 30% of your income on housing, so keep that in mind when deciding on where to live. Living in the heart of downtown can be expensive, so consider looking at the surrounding suburbs for more affordable housing opportunities.
2. Which States Have the Best Climate?
The “perfect” climate is different for everyone. In general, the U.S. has a continental climate with hot summers and cool winters. However, there are a variety of regions that have extreme climates. For example, mountain regions are colder year round and deserts are hot and dry with extremely mild winters. The beauty of the U.S. is that you can choose from a variety of climates all within the same country.
Northwest Coast: Cool and damp, temperate winters
Southwest Coast: Dry summers, wet and mild winters
Central South Coast (Gulf of Mexico): Hot and humid summers, mild winters
Northeast Coast: Warm summers, cold winters
Southeast Coast: Hot and humid summers, mild winters
The central regions of the US have different climates depending on altitude, proximity to the ocean, and longitude.
3. Which U.S Cities are the Most Affordable?
When most people hear “affordable living," they immediately think of lower housing costs. While housing costs do play a major role, there are a variety of factors that go into making a city affordable or not.
Housing Costs: Your housing costs will be determined by whether you want to rent or own. Here’s a list of the most affordable cities for renters. If you have the cash for a down payment, you might be able to save money in the long-term by buying a house.
Housing costs in downtown and “touristy” areas are usually more expensive than those in the outskirts of the city. If you fall in love with a city but can’t afford to live downtown, you can try looking at the outskirts of the city or neighboring towns. This strategy is especially great for remote workers. If you have to commute into the city for your job, then you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons carefully between cheaper housing costs and a longer commute.
Transportation: Some cities you can easily live without a car and save thousands per year on car payments, insurance, repairs, and gas. Here’s a list of 8 U.S. cities you can live in without a car.
Groceries: If you have a family, then groceries quickly add up and can eat away at your budget. If you’ll be doing a lot of cooking at home, then look for a city where grocery costs are below the national average, such as Las Vegas.
Utilities: In extremely hot or cold weather, utility bills are a huge expense. It’s worth noting how much utilities will cost in your new potential city.
Healthcare: Healthcare in the U.S. is generally quite expensive, even with insurance. Thankfully, there are some states that offer lower than average insurance premiums and deductibles. According to Business Insider, Hawaii, Michigan, and Washington D.C. take the top three spots for the lowest average employee premium contribution and deductible.
Taxes: According to WalletHub, state taxes can vary between 5.73% and 14.96%. More people than ever are moving to Miami due to its low tax rates. Miami is a particularly attractive tax haven due to its warm climate, bustling business environment, and big-city lifestyle.
4. What are the Job Opportunities in Different U.S. Cities?
If you’re moving to a new city without a job lined up, you’ll want to pay special attention to the job market in your new potential city. You’ll be less concerned with this if you work remotely, but it’s still an important factor to consider. You never know what the future may bring, so it never hurts to be prepared in case of an unforeseen layoff or career change.
Consider the following:
- The number of jobs available in your sector
- The unemployment rate
- Average starting salary
- Average job satisfaction
If you have your heart set on working for a global business giant like Google, Microsoft, or Apple, then you’ll have to consider relocating to a city where they have a main office. Lastly, keep your long-term goals in mind. If your goal is to move to a corporate setting and work your way up the ladder, you’ll want to consider moving to a city that has a multitude of corporate offices.
5. What Are Your Favorite Hobbies?
Your hobbies, interests, and lifestyle will play a huge factor in where you’ll settle. Write out a list of things that you and your family like to do for fun, and have fun looking at potential cities where you could all find something you like.
If you’re looking for a new adventure, then there’s also no better time to pick up new hobbies! If you’ve always wanted to get into winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, consider a city like Denver or Salt Lake City. If you’re a major foodie, then you’ll probably love a food hot spot like Portland, New York, Miami, or Los Angeles.
6. What are the Best Neighborhoods in the U.S.?
Once you decide on the state you’d like to move to, it’s time to dig a little deeper and research the neighborhoods within that state. Even if you’d like to stay in the same state due to familiar or work obligations, you can sometimes completely change your atmosphere by changing neighborhoods. The best places to live in the U.S. for each person might look different. A family of four is probably looking for something different than a single college graduate.
For families or those looking to have kids in the future, then it’s important to consider which schools are in the area.
Proximity to Healthcare
If you have chronic health concerns or simply like the comfort of being close to medical care, it’s worthwhile looking at neighborhoods around major hospitals. Most large cities have at least 2 or 3 major hospitals, so this shouldn’t restrict your search too much.
Proximity to Green Space
Love going for walks and smelling the flowers every day? If so, consider a city with a lot of green space so you enjoy nature. If you’re someone that needs to be surrounded by greenery, you might fare better in a rural environment. Sometimes that’s not possible, so a good compromise is a house with a backyard or an apartment balcony filled with plants.
“Safe” is a relative term when it comes to crime in US cities. There’s crime in every city, but it varies by neighborhood and also by the type of crime. For example, one city might have a high level of drug related crime, but low violent crime. For more information about safety in US cities, here’s an analysis on the most safe and unsafe places in the U.S. for a variety of crime types.
Choosing a neighborhood can be one of the trickiest parts of moving to a new city, especially if you’re moving across the country to an unfamiliar state. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can work with a real estate agent to help you choose the best neighborhood.
Overall, moving to a new city can be both difficult and exciting. There is no right or wrong answer because the best places to live in the U.S. will be different for everyone. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with decision fatigue when you’re trying to decide between dozens of different cities with their own unique characteristics. The good news is, there’s no rule stopping you from migrating across the country multiple times! So go ahead and gear up for your next move.
Ricardo Mello is the co-founder of Manhattan Miami Real Estate. He works with clients from all over the world looking to buy, sell, lease, or rent luxury residential properties.