You’re ready to move someplace new, but you’re not sure where to go. The last thing you want to do is waste money, time and stress on moving only to end up in a place that’s not a good fit for you. The pressure not to screw up huge. So, what can you do to you avoid moving to the wrong place?
For starters, you can avoid making the same missteps my husband and I made when we moved from a city in Texas to a small town in Iowa.
Going about it in a rushed, disorganized way.
Researching places online is an important part of your search process. But, you don’t want to rely too much on online research, because there are lots of things about a place you can only know if you see and experience them for yourself.
Scouting places out, getting “eyes on the ground,” is crucial, because it allows you to gather your own first-hand impressions of each prospective place to live so you can make a more informed decision.
It’s also really important to create and follow a plan, allow plenty of time to do your due diligence on your scouting visits, and not rush your decision.
We didn’t do any of these things.
I drove out to Iowa with only a vague idea of where I was going. To make matters worse, I gave myself only three weeks to find a place. Because we were in a hurry to move, I was determined not to return to Texas empty-handed.
When it became clear renting wasn’t an option because we have four cats and a rabbit, the scouting visit became more about finding a house to buy and less about finding the right place. Which leads us to misstep #2.
Putting the house before the place.
We were excited to find a cool, old affordable house in a small Iowa town with a beautiful downtown. We figured we’d enjoy living in a small town, especially since Iowa City was only 30 miles away.
Living in Washington, Iowa may be marginally better than living in Lubbock. But, the reality is that we miss having easy access to city amenities and wish now that we had slowed down and thought through our decision more carefully.
Finding a cool house is great, but it’s important to consider where the house is located. A more sensible approach is to first find a place you like and are compatible with, and then look for housing.
Focusing on the idea, not the reality, of a place.
Living in big cities most of my life, I often dreamt about what it would be like to live in a small town or in the countryside. I spent many weekend get-aways in small towns over the years and imagined it would be idyllic to live in one.
Three years ago, my husband and I embarked on a monthlong road trip across the Midwest and ended up spending a lot of time in Iowa. We loved Iowa so much, we spontaneously got married in the tiny northeastern town of Elkader.
Soon afterwards, we decided to leave Lubbock for good. Buoyed by fond memories of our honeymoon and the area’s relatively affordable cost of living, Iowa became the focus of our search.
With 20/20 hindsight, I can see we were naive to assume living in Iowa would be like vacationing there. We were ignorant to think we could thrive in a small town after so many years in cities. We weren’t really thinking it through when we convinced ourselves we’d be fine living 30 miles away from a small city.
None of these assumptions turned out to be true.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have taken time at the very beginning to reflect and make sure we focused our search on places that were a good fit for us. Then again, I never would have had the disastrous experience that inspired me to create the Find Your Happy Place system to help people like you successfully navigate your search and figure out your best places to move!
How about you?
Do you have a cautionary tale about a move? A success story? Please share in the comments below!