Moving to a new city is an exciting time, but it is full of decisions, and one of those is where you are going to live. How do you know the best place to buy a home when you do not know the area? While long distance house hunting has its own set of challenges, there are ways you can make that decision easier. Here are some tips to simplify your search:
- Start your research online: The best place to start your long distance house hunting is on your comfy couch. Through online research, you can scan neighborhood maps, look at homes, visit tourist attractions, read local reviews, and get an overall lay of the land. This gives you a starting point of how close you want to be to the hustle and bustle of the downtown core, or if you prefer a quieter location. You can also review the city-run web site for resident information such as garbage pickup, city by-laws, and park locations. As well, you can use your search to email questions about schools, community groups, and real estate agents.
- Use your resources: It’s one thing to learn about a new city online, but it can be a different story when getting first-hand experiences. Ask your friends, family, co-workers, your new employer, people in online forums – anyone who can relay their personal accounts of what to do, what to see, and where to avoid. It’s important to do your preliminary homework to make the rest of your search easier.
- Create a plan: Once you have a general sense of your new location, you then need to create a plan, which should include the following: what are your house hunting deal makers, your deal breakers, do want to be close to restaurants and events, or do you want to be close to Mother Nature? Do you need a double garage or easy access to public transportation? What is your budget? Be as specific as possible; this will solidify your ideas and quicken your search. Also make sure that you define priorities and timelines to get things done. For example, you cannot hire movers or discover the best route to work until you know where you are living, and you cannot find where you are living until you hire a real estate agent.
- Find a local and experienced agent: How do you find the home that is right for you? By using the services of a local real estate agent. They have both the personal and professional knowledge to help you find what you want. You can contact your potential employer for recommendations, ask any friends or family in the area, and use your online search to seek out candidates. Email the potential agents and chat with them on the phone until you find one that you are comfortable with and who is familiar with long distance house hunting.
- Plan your visit: While you can complete all of your house hunting from your home, it is highly recommended that you visit at least once to get a feel of your new city and to see homes in person. Before planning your visit, know the purpose of each visit, how long you plan to stay, and what you can realistically accomplish. Don’t over plan each visit, and schedule in some relaxing time to give yourself time to walk around and enjoy your new city.
- Learn about the cost of living: How much does it cost to live in your new city? Are housing prices higher or lower? Does it cost more to fill up your car? Are fresh fruits and vegetables accessible and affordable? Available online, look at cost of living charts, and then compare those numbers with your current city prices. You can also look at online flyers to see the price differential for food and other goods you will need. You need to know the cost of living so that you can budget for everything – housing, food, savings, fun – accordingly.
Long distance house hunting may seem like a complicated and time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be. Starting early, being specific, and having a plan can streamline the process so that your move to a new city doesn’t become unduly onerous, and remains exciting.