Thinking about moving to a new city with your family? We’ve made several moves over the years and each time, learned something new. Here are a few things to consider doing before you make the big decision:
1. Visit during the worst possible season for weather.
When we were considering our move to Seattle, we made the mistake of visiting as a family during the summer. By coincidence, we picked the best possible, sunny two weeks of the summer. Needless to say, we visited Seattle at the most beautiful point in the year.
Fast forward three years of living in the Pacific Northwest, we weren’t prepared for how dark, gray and gloomy the weather would be in Seattle, even during the summer. We heard stories before our move, but living it every day was another story. If you love a city at its very worst, with kids in tow, then you will absolutely love it even more during its best season.
Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed our time in Seattle, but long lengths of time without sun did start to get to us and kept us indoors.
2. Go somewhere during rush hour and commute like the locals do.
When we make a big move, we definitely care about what a city has to offer, but we also consider our overall quality of life. As a working/commuting mom, how long I spend in the car each day ultimately impacts the quality time I can spend with my girls. If you visit a potential new city on the weekends, you won’t have a great sense for what your “real” life will be like during a normal week with rush hour included.
Spend time on the roads, major interstates between where you want to live and your place of work to get a sense for what your life will be like. Also, check out the public transportation options like the train or metro.
Traffic is also something to think about on the weekends as well. When we moved to Washington, D.C., we were super excited about being close to all of the history, culture, and restaurants. What we didn’t realize is how bad the traffic would continue to be– even on the weekends. Having so many great things to do near you is fantastic, but if you never want to fight traffic to get to the fun, what’s the point?
3. Pay attention to parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and trails.
It is very easy when you are thinking about a big move to only focus on schools, real estate and neighborhoods. Once you secure all of these things, you also want to make sure you’ve selected an area where there are plenty of places for free outdoor fun.
To be honest, plenty of nearby places to let crazy children run wild and release the energy that drives us all nuts!
It’s pretty easy to spend time with Google Maps, local mom reviews, social media groups and even roaming by car to make sure there are plenty of outdoor options or even places to go on a simple walk with the family.
Also, don’t forget about sidewalks. When we moved to the Charlotte area, technically Fort Mill, SC, we were so focused on the schools and finding a house that fit our needs (real estate is hot in this area), we missed one simple thing. Our neighborhood has no SIDEWALKS! Big miss on my part, especially since I’m no rookie to moving. Pay attention to open spaces and where you can spend your time.
4. Consider proximity to airports and other cities.
One of the things we loved about living in Washington, D.C. was the proximity to three major airports. When it came time for me to travel for work, I could choose the most convenient flights and still make it home to spend time with my daughters when the week was tightly scheduled. This also made it super easy to fly in our biggest helpers– their grandparents!
Another factor is where can you spend time on the weekends or for short vacations. What other cities, towns or landmarks exists within a few hours of the potential city you are looking to move to? Living in Charlotte, we love the idea that we can drive 2-3 hours to the mountains, see places like Asheville or Sliding Rock and come back the same day.
We’re also a hop, skip and jump to the beach and love to spend a day or two there occasionally.
We found this also to be true in Seattle, where you are surrounded by many types of natural beauty.
5. Think about access to the best medical professionals, even if your kiddos are super healthy.
As a parent, when you move it is natural to think about switching to a new pediatrician or dentist. For the average family, you’ll be lucky enough to never experience a situation where your child’s health or even life is potentially compromised.
In our house, we’ve had our share of strep throat, colds and flus. You are never really prepared for the gut-wrenching heartbreak you’ll go through when something really serious happens to your child. Earlier this year, it happened to us.
6. Research the tourism (high and low seasons) and what this will mean to locals (like you).
Living in Destin, Florida, we had first hand experience with what it was like to live in a major tourist and beach destination. Although it was wonderful to have direct access to the beautiful “sugar” beaches, spring break and summer were nightmares. We found ourselves in traffic and planning our weekends around tourists and utter mayhem.
You’ll have to decide what is most important to you. There are also upsides to being near a tourist destination. We tried many new activities that we would have never had the chance to try before. And, can you say locals discount?
We love living where we live now, a city only a few miles from Carowinds, a very large theme park. We can go to the park on our season pass almost year round, spend a few hours whenever we choose and not have to worry about busy windows of non-local visitors. This is pretty amazing!
7. Go on VACATION or a fun trip with the family and explore.
My last tip would be to REALLY enjoy the time you are using to visit and research your potential new city. Treat it like a little vacation and give your kids of taste of what the possibility looks like.
When we consider moving somewhere new, we take our daughters on a grand tour, show them the city, have fun and leave them with something to be excited about (the possibility of living in this new place).
This is the best part of considering your options. Bring on new experiences and have fun!