You’re ready to move someplace new. BUT, you’re not sure where to go. You certainly don’t want to 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 a moving misstep?
For starters, you can avoid doing what my husband and I did 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. That’s because there are lots of things about a place you can only know if you see and experience them for yourself.
Getting “eyes on the ground,” is crucial. Scouting out a place in advance allows you to gather your own first-hand impressions, 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.
We have four cats and a rabbit. When it became clear renting wasn’t an option, the scouting visit became more about finding a house to buy and less about the 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. We regret not slowing down and thinking 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 compatible place, and then look for housing. It’s also vital to leave your rose-colored glasses at home. Which brings us to misstep #3.
Focusing on the idea, not the reality, of a place.
Living in big cities most of my life, I often dreamt about what rural living would be like. I spent many weekend get-aways in small towns over the years and imagined it would be idyllic to live in one.
Several 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, there is a bright side to it all. If I hadn’t made these giant missteps, I never would have gone through the disastrous experience that inspired me to create the PlaceFinder system to help other location independent midlife women take the guesswork out of their search for the right place to live.
How about you?
Do you have a cautionary tale about a move? A success story? Please share in the comments below!