How to Figure Out Where to Live

Where should I live?

Home is where the heart is, but what if your heart doesn’t know where to go? Let your interests, goals and lifestyle guide you! With so many amazing spots from coast to coast, the perfect hometown is out there — but how do you find it? Start by figuring out what your family needs, and then explore the places that offer it.   

What makes a town “the best place to live”?

The best place for your family really depends on what you’re looking for, but you can start narrowing it down by figuring out what’s important to you. Explore these 17 factors to find the right fit — look at them separately or together to help you decide:

Cost of living

The cost of living measures how expensive it is to live in a particular place, based on local expenses for housing, healthcare, transportation and utilities. That doesn’t mean areas with a higher cost of living aren’t good places to live, but you may want to make sure you can live within your means. You can check the rating of any city here. Remember when looking at a city’s score, that a score of 100 is the national average, so a lower score means a place is more affordable.

Weather and climate

Ideal weather is so subjective. For some, winter means lots of snow, while others want to live somewhere flurries are rare. Make sure you know what to expect before settling in! It’s also a good idea to know how the climate might affect your mood and health — anything from fewer days of sunlight to changes in elevation can make an impact, so it’s smart to be prepared. If you’re concerned about any health issues, make sure to talk with your doctor. 

Culture and lifestyle

You’ll want to make sure your new hometown has things to keep you entertained. Love music and art? Look for a place with live music venues, performance spaces and museums! Looking for a quieter family life? Find a city with children’s activities, lots of parks and fun places to explore as a group. Visitor’s websites will give you a great idea of what a town has to offer. 

Retiring? We’ve compiled some of the best places to retire based on different interests. 

Crime rates and safety

It’s important to feel safe at home. You can check with city and state police departments to see statistics for their areas, but it can also be helpful to visit and see how it feels. Crime rates can vary in cities, but also by neighborhood. Take a look at how to check neighborhood crime rates before you move.

Taxes

Location is everything when trying to make your income go further. For example, in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon, there’s no sales tax — so you’ll pay what’s on the tag! Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming have no income tax. If you’re looking to save on your tax bill, check out the different taxation in each state

Jobs

If you’re going to be looking for work after the move, it’s important to check on things like job availability and average salaries. Not sure where to start? We combined factors like career opportunities, entertainment options and overall community scores on this list of the best places to find a job in the U.S.
 
Schools

There are fantastic schools in every state, and it’s easy to find them. You can compare scores, read reviews and find out how schools serve their students on GreatSchools. This may make a difference in what part of a state you move to or even which district you need to look for housing in.

Medical services

If you have health issues or just want to make sure you have quality options nearby, check hospital grades and information online to see how the ones in your prospective areas stack up.   

Transportation

How do you want to get around? If you love being behind the wheel, but don’t want to spend all your free time stuck in traffic, check local commute times. To give you some perspective, the U.S. average is 26.6 minutes, according to the U.S. Census. You can use their database to look up the travel times for specific locations, too.

Want to survive without a car? Some places are very walkable, while others depend more heavily on public transportation. Use WalkScore to find cities you can navigate on foot, or explore places with excellent transit scores

Outdoor activities

Whether you’re looking to hit the trails or the surf, easy access to your favorite outdoor activities can put some locations at the top of your list. Check out the best places to live in these popular states for outdoor recreation: AlaskaFlorida and California.

Politics

If your political stance is important and you want to live near like-minded people, research the political leanings in areas you’re considering. You can look up voting information for each state here, including past election results and current elected officials for guidance.  

Travel

Access to airports and train stations can be of utmost importance to business travelers. Or if you just like to get away on the weekends, find a spot with lots of nearby destinations to explore. You don’t have to live in a hub city to make the most of travel opportunities. For example, U-Pack is located in Fort Smith, AR, which has a ton of access to travel. There’s a small airport with daily flights, and major destinations like Dallas, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Memphis are within 5 hours’ drive time. 

Spiritual life

You can practice your religion anywhere, but it can be easier to live in areas with a higher concentration of people with the same affiliation. This Pew Research study includes a map that can help you find cities with people who worship in the same ways as your family. 

Housing

Do you want to rent or buy? If you’re looking to buy, home prices are a factor, but so is availability. Realtor.com has named the top real estate markets to get you started. 

For apartments, rent can vary widely across the country. The median rent in the U.S. is $1,023, according to the U.S. Census. But many places have much more affordable monthly housing costs. When apartment hunting, make sure to compare rent prices in suburbs, as it may be more affordable to live outside the metro area. 

Food options

Do you prefer to shop at local farmer’s markets or big warehouse stores? Make sure your new city has what you’re looking for. In some smaller towns, it can be tough to find specialty foods, and some climates have shorter growing seasons for homegrown produce. And if you have special dietary needs, you’ll want to check that you can get what you’re used to at restaurants and stores. 

Community engagement

Serving your community is an honor and a responsibility. Some cities are very engaged in service, so if you want somewhere you can dive in and make a difference, start with the top cities by volunteer rate. Or check if you can start your own groups in towns that are short on them! 

Proximity to family and friends

Living near your support system has emotional and practical benefits, but how close do you want to be? Do you want to be able to drive across town and have dinner with your family weekly? Or be within a day’s drive of your grandparents? If keeping those connections is vital, take out a map and put dots where your people are, then consider towns nearby.  

U-Pack® can help you move almost anywhere

No matter which city you decide to live in, U-Pack can help you get there. We offer easy, affordable long-distance moving services where you pack and load, and we do all the driving. With over 240 service centers across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, we have locations near you. Get a free moving quote online or by calling 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to start planning your relocation today.