This content is provided courtesy of USAA.
Thinking about moving to a new home or a new part of the country? Whether you're retiring, considering a new job or simply longing for something different, ask yourself the following questions to determine if you're making the right move at the right time. Especially if it means leaving your great babysitter behind.
1. Can You Afford It?
Sometimes, the excitement of a big move can overcome your ability to think logically -- and financially. Estimate the cost of living in your new home, then consider these two guidelines:
- Your total housing costs -- including principal, interest, property taxes and insurance -- shouldn't exceed 28% of your total, pre-tax monthly income.
- Your total debt payments -- including your mortgage, auto loans, credit card payments and other obligations -- shouldn't exceed 36% of your total, pre-tax monthly income.
Beyond these factors, you'll also need to consider what it will take to furnish and maintain your new home.
2. How Does the Cost of Living Compare?
Before committing to a move, it's important to understand how far your dollars will take you in your new location. Use an online cost of living calculator to see if your move is a financial plus or minus.
3. How Will My Family Be Affected?
Moving has big implications for every member of your family -- new friends, schools, churches and recreational options. If you currently live near extended family, consider how that separation will affect your family dynamics.
4. How's the Real Estate Market?
If your move involves buying or selling a home, you'll need to decide whether the conditions are right. If it's a tight market, you may want to sell your current home before buying the new one -- avoiding the budget-busting possibility of carrying two mortgages at once.
5. Does the Community Address Your Key Needs?
Make a list outlining all the attributes of a location that are important to you, in order of importance. If you're married or have a family, ask each member of the household to create their own. Among the things to consider: weather, recreation, hobbies, churches, schools, sporting events, concerts, restaurants, medical care and proximity to airports.
6. Will it Require a Change in Lifestyle?
If you've lived in the city all your life and are daydreaming about quiet country living -- or vice versa -- make sure that's really what you want. To properly sample your new lifestyle and location, consider taking an extended vacation in the new area. Retirees may even want to rent a furnished home or apartment for a few months before making the leap.