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Is a New City Right for You? Make a List

July 9, 2015
Personal Finance
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By Megan Terzian

Learn more about Megan on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

The idea of moving to a new city, one that’s totally unfamiliar, can be both exhilarating and unnerving. Whether you’re moving for a job or for personal reasons (including just for an adventure), you have the chance to start fresh somewhere new.

But is a particular city really the right place or you? It’s helpful to list all the reasons why you should consider moving to a given city, as well as those that suggest you shouldn’t. Here are a few categories to get you started as you ponder starting a new chapter in your life.

The overall environment

Check out the city before moving. Explore the different neighborhoods and see what area best fits you and your lifestyle. There are countless blogs and websites dedicated to city neighborhoods, restaurants and nightlife, so do your research.


How do you plan to get around? Car? Bus? Bike? Walk? If possible, take into consideration the distance between where you’ll work and where you’ll live. Know the public-transportation options, and see how bike-friendly or pedestrian-friendly the city is. If you have a car, ask yourself whether you’ll have a place to park it.

Cost of living

If you’re moving to a city like New York or San Francisco, you’ll probably find that nearly everything will be a lot more expensive. On the other hand, moving to a cheaper place might also mean getting a lower salary. You can compare the cost of living in your hometown and the city you’re considering moving to by using an online cost of living calculator. If you want to get a better handle on your budget, consider taking the Mosaic Financial Fitness Challenge to get yourself financially fit to be able to make a move.

Moving costs

Also consider how much it will cost you to physically relocate — renting a truck or hiring movers, gas, hotels, cleaning supplies, a security deposit on your new place, and the overall cost of home goods in your new city. If you’ll be buying a home, check out the real estate market.

Meeting people

Are you a Harry Homebody or a social butterfly? Meeting people in a new city is hard for many of us. Look for ways to get involved within the community, such as through nonprofits and volunteer groups or professional organizations. All of these are great ways to meet people with interests similar to yours. Personally speaking, when I relocated to San Francisco, I made it a point to say yes to (almost) everything, try new things and join organizations where I knew I could meet people.

While getting approval and support from family and friends regarding your move is important, it is ultimately your decision and your life we’re talking about here, so go with your gut. If there are too many red flags and you have a big sense of unease, then it may not be right for you. But if you’re constantly thinking about it, and feeling exhilarated and nervous-excited, then that may mean this is the right move for you.

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