Relocation: Where to live

In our last post, we covered a lengthy list of considerations and must-dos when relocating for work or pleasure. But honestly, the most important aspect of relocating is where you are going to live, especially when family is involved. A home is such a personal thing, and it can make or break your move. This week, we’ll explore the pros and cons of renting versus buying and how to find a reliable real estate agent you can trust. 

The pressure to buy a home is overwhelming. We hear the argument all the time that renting is just “throwing money away”, and why not “put that money into something you own!” And yes, that is a valid argument. Buying isn’t for everyone and that certainly goes for those relocating. Reasons to rent: you are unfamiliar with the area, you may change your mind on the neighborhood based on the commute or school districts, the housing market is unpredictable, and job security is unknown. Regardless of the advice you receive, no one can tell you if you’ll like a neighborhood. You may get a great deal in a suburban area, only to find out the commute is longer than expected, and you’d prefer to be in an urban or walkable location. Perhaps you’re apprehensive about the job. If something were to fall through, a lease agreement can be broken. A mortgage, on the other hand, is much more permanent, and the re-sell could take time depending on the market. If the commitment to purchasing a home seems too much, then renting is definitely the better option. 

Another factor in buying versus renting comes down to the estimated cost for each. The New York Times published a calculator to help determine what you could pay monthly. The calculator asks the price of the home, length of expected occupancy, mortgage interest rate, down payment, and loan terms. It also considers taxes and closing costs if you purchase and security deposits and insurance in you rent. While this isn’t a totally foolproof method, it provides tangibles numbers for your decision, especially if you’re on the more logical end of the spectrum. 

However, if you’re committed to the move regardless of outside circumstances, then buying might be the right route. Purchasing a home allows you to build equity and provides stability. Homes can always be rented out later, and in some cities, Air BnB has become profitable option when being a landlord just isn’t in your plan. But just a quick PSA: check the local regulations before listing your home on Air BnB and make sure all the necessary registration and permitting has been completed. 

The debate for renting versus buying can go on, but it’s all theoretical unless you have actual properties to compare. Finding a trustworthy, reliable realtor is a key piece to the relocating puzzle. It’s critical to find someone that will have your own best interests in mind and not take advantage of your naivety of the area. Referrals are one of the top ways real estate agents generate business. Real estate is very much a word-of-mouth business, so asking around your office or calling future colleagues can be a great place to start. When renting, agents aren’t as critical to finding a home, but making a connection earlier on could help in a few months if you choose to purchase a home. Beyond referrals, the world of technology has made finding agents easier as well. Websites like Zillow and realtor.com can provide market insights and feature agents in a certain area. It’s also important to check out their office and review their marketing strategies (and social media / websites). We recommend an interview or consultation before you officially “hire” an agent. 

Relocating can be an amazing opportunity for you and your family. It’s so easy to get caught in the details and forget about all the new experiences you will have. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Be organized and thoughtful in your relocation approach, and don’t be afraid to ask your employer for referrals or assistance. 

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