Amount of People and Density
This will differ vastly person to person, but I love the size of cities like Baltimore and Cincinnati - smaller city areas with huge sprawling suburbs with lots of variety from town to town. I couldn't handle a place like New York City, but at the same time, a small city like Harrisburg was just as hard of an adjustment. I chose to keep with a large metro area. Miami/Ft Lauderdale metro is around 5 million, but the cities themselves are actually fairly small. There are tons of things to do in the suburbs/smaller cities all up and down the coast, and everything is close together without being crowded like New York city. This list of the US metro areas has been a huge help for me in research and understanding the general metro areas versus just a city.
Weather and Geography
I love warm weather and hate snow. Hence why Florida is probably the best choice ever, especially South Florida, but that is for me specifically. Wikipedia is immensely helpful in researching a place because they have a climate section. Look at record highs and lows, as well as the type of climate. Did you know that Hawaii and South Florida (Miami corner) both have tropical climates, and the Miami metro is the only part of the contiguous 48 states that has this climate?
When I moved to Pennsylvania, I had no idea of their alcohol laws. They are very outdated and make it impossible to do something like buy a beer for soup at the grocery store. (Or beer or wine at the grocery store at all. Or in the same store). There were other things too like additional taxes in certain areas that were killer. Be sure to look up laws in your state before moving and make sure something that you are used to at home is OK there.
Try and spend a little time before you move somewhere. If you can't, like I never have been able to, go sit at the same bar/restaurant two nights in a row. You will see the crowd at two different times and see what it is like. Community is a huge thing - some areas have a great sense of community. Some do not. I never met many people out in public (like when I eat at restaurants or take photos) back in Pennsylvania. No one ventured from their known friends very often, and the community wasn't incredibly active. When I visited my new area, there were many more people out who were all very out going and welcoming. It will completely depend on what you are looking for, but you'll know when you feel great somewhere.
Location, Location, Location
I drew a 5ish mile radius around the World of Beer that Jason and I went to to see about the community (like I talked about above) to find a place to live. The location of where you are going it everything - down the exact pinpoint spot you are in and the things around it. Think about things like :
- What is the area close to? For instance, in addition to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, I can easily get to family in Orlando and friends in Fort Myers!.
- What does the area have? If you frequent Target like me, a Target nearby is necessary. Don't underestimate leaving behind something you love in your life.
- Driving Distances? If you hate driving, finding somewhere with less traffic might be important!
This one is huge - and something that we really focused on this time. Central Pennsylvania didn't have the greatest market for design jobs, and Jason and I really needed to find a better place to support our careers. Research employment rates surely, but more importantly, see what the area is good for if you are in a specialty career.
Children and Family
Consider your lifestyle! If you plan to have kids, maybe New York City isn't where you want to raise them. For me, I didn't think Central Pennsylvania was where I wanted my future children to grow up. Having family nearby is important to many people as well. I like that I am nearby two airports, about a 3 hour drive from my in-laws place outside of Orlando, and have the ability to fly to Cincinnati easily (or drive for longer trips).
This one is weird, but something to consider. Where are airports nearby? We drove to Baltimore to fly out (an hour and half plus drive from our place in Pennsylvania) because Harrisburg was such a small airport. Many hours that drive it just the closest airport. If you need to fly a lot, say to go home or possibly for work, living near airports is pretty huge. Also major highways! Trust me, after living off a state route and not a major interstate (no US interstate goes through Lancaster, or to it), it's not always the best.
These are only a small amount of things that I learned to consider. Moving a long distance is a huge step - and a hard one. I had to use a moving company for the first time this move and HATED it. My large bourbon collection - the only box that didn't make it, most likely stolen. Fun times guys. Please, if you read this and have any questions about my moves, how I handled something, or anything else, let me know! Tweet @corgiscocktails or e-mail me.