Welcome to Sunday Conversation #6! If you would like to participate in next week’s Sunday Conversation, simply ask your question in the comments section of today’s post and I will respond next Sunday. Remember, any subject is on the table (but keep it family-friendly).
Luke asks, “My wife and I are considering a move away from our current area. What would you say are the most important things to look for in our future area (We hope to have kids before or around the time so you can factor that in)?”
Luke, I have some recent experience in this as my wife and I relocated (in-state) to a new city just four years ago. With one child and one on the way at the time it made for a stressful time, but a careful analysis made the decision a little easier. Here are the factors we considered:
- School System – We left an average system and moved to one of the top systems in the state. Since paying private school tuition is difficult on one income, we wanted to find a place with a good public education system.
- A Diverse Economy – What I mean by diverse is that there are plenty of opportunities within a short commute that cover a number of different markets. It’s risky to put all your career eggs in one basket based on a particular industry – especially in today’s market.
- Housing - A great measuring stick to use when comparing housing options in different cities is price per square foot. We moved into an area with a lower price per square foot, so we were able to buy a little more house with the same money than the place we left.
- Safety - Crime can hit anywhere, but some places seem to have more of it than others. Check out the local newspaper’s police blotter for a couple weeks to find out what types of crimes are being committed, and in what areas of town. This will give you some idea of where to avoid when looking for a place to live.
- Something to See and Do – It is generally not advisable to be situated too close to main attractions, but it is nice to be within reasonable driving distance to cultural hubs, outdoor parks and recreation, etc.
For more on finding a quality place to live, check out My Two Dollar’s post on the ten best cities to live and work.
Along those same lines, Dawn asks, ” I was wondering if you had an entry about the actual costs of buying your first home. I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences, if you got any surprises a few months after you signed (unknown expenses) like appliances breaking, etc?
Our situation was a little bit unique when we moved into our first home. At the time, my grandfather lived with us, so we scouted around the area we planned to relocate looking for a house with two master bedrooms – so he wouldn’t have to share a bathroom with two kids! It was difficult to find one on the market with this setup, so we looked at new construction. We found a house that was nearly complete, but we had input on colors, flooring, and fixtures.
We were fortunate nothing broke early on, and our builder’s warranty would have covered anything major. I do remember a few expenses like planting trees around the property (the builder planted two over-sized shrubs in the yard to satisfy the neighborhood covenant, but they were pathetic), and converting the lousy pine straw job to a nicer mulch product. One of my biggest expenses at the time was for my kids. I bought one of those “backyard play sets” and a trampoline for them, probably as a way to ease the transition of relocating. Looking back, I should have looked for a cheaper alternative, built it myself, and saved up for it. Live and learn!
Do you have a question you would like to see answered here next week? Simply post a comment to this article below and I’ll include your question in next week’s Sunday Conversation.