3 Offbeat Place Qualities to Research Before You Move


When we think about moving someplace new, it’s common to focus on the more obvious qualities of a place. What do I mean by obvious? Well,  things like weather, landscape, housing and economy. Which are all important attributes, for sure.

But today we’re going to highlight 3 offbeat place qualities to research before you move. Each of these qualities could negatively affect your health, safety and quality of life. But they are easy to overlook simply because they are a bit unusual. I’ll also share where you can find data on these offbeat place qualities in the U.S. and Canada.

All right. Let’s dig in, shall we?

The first offbeat place quality to consider investigating before you move is:

How sunny is it?

Let’s say you want to move someplace with a warmer climate. An easy assumption to make is that warm locations get a lot of sunshine and cold locations do not.

While this is true in many cases, it isn’t always and there are some surprising exceptions. For example, the annual sunshine average in Denver, Colorado is 69% but in Hilo, Hawaii it’s only 41%.

How much sunlight a place gets is not a deal breaker for everyone. But, it’s definitely something to consider if you’re worried you’ll get bummed out living someplace that’s grey and moody a lot of the time.

There’s a medical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, “SAD,” which is a type of depression believed to be caused by reduced levels of sunlight.

There are ways to try to offset the effects of SAD, using sun lamps for example. But they are a poor substitute for natural sunlight. If having plenty of sunlight is important to you, you can check out this information online.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ranks U.S. cities by their annual average of possible sunshine. These averages range from 30% in Juneau, Alaska to 90% in Yuma, Arizona. Click here to check out the list.

The Canadian government stopped tracking sunshine levels in 2015, but you can still find historical data on their Climate Normals website.

The second offbeat quality to think about investigating before you move is:

What types of natural disasters occur there and how often?

Some locations are more predisposed to natural disasters than others. If you’re focusing on a particular region, it’s good to know just what, if any, natural disasters might be a problem there.

Does it flood? Are there earthquakes? Tsunamis? Tornadoes? Hurricanes? Wildfires? Active volcanoes?

Researching information on natural disasters in advance can help to guide your decision about where to move.

What you discover may or may not be a deal breaker but at least you have that information, so you know what to expect in your new location.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website has interactive maps that allow you to search for historical information on natural disaster declarations by U.S. state and county.

For Canadian provinces, you can find this historical information in the Canadian Disaster Database on the government’s website.

You may especially want to consider the type and frequency of natural disasters when considering the third offbeat quality.

How close is the nearest nuclear facility?

The U.S. hasn’t had a serious nuclear accident since Three Mile Island in 1979 and Canada hasn’t had one since the Chalk River nuclear accident in 1952.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, scientists predict a 50-50 chance of a Three Mile Island-scale disaster in the next 10 years and a Chernobyl-scale disaster in the next 30 years.

In the U.S., there are 105 operating nuclear reactors at 65 sites in 30 states. Canada has 22 nuclear reactors at 5 sites. Most of the reactors in Canada are in Ontario.

Over 120 million people (about 40% of U.S. population) live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. This 50-mile area is considered the “evacuation radius” in the event of a nuclear meltdown.

You can see where nuclear plants, evacuation zones, fault lines, and historic earthquakes are located in the U.S. using the Esri nuclear proximity interactive map.

Just type in the location you want to research, set the map layers to show whatever information you want to know, and it will magically appear before your eyes.  It’s SO COOL! (But I am a total geek about these kinds of things.)

In Canada, you’ll find an interactive map of various nuclear facilities (not just reactors) on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission website.

The importance of researching before you move.

I realize all this talk about natural disasters and nuclear meltdowns may sound like a bunch of doom and gloom. But moving someplace new is a big deal. The last thing you want is for something (or many things) you overlooked during your research to bite you in the ass after you move.

Not into research and planning? Let Your Place Finder help!

Get a detailed, interactive Custom Place Prospects Report of your top prospective locations expertly researched and prepared just for you, one-of-a-kind planning and evaluation tools, and one-on-one consulting/coaching support to help you confidently navigate your search and move – and avoid a costly moving mistake! Learn more about the PlaceFinder Program here.

3 Often Overlooked Facts to Research Before Moving Someplace - Your Place Finder 3 Uncommon Facts to Research Before Moving Someplace - Your Place Finder 3 Unusual Facts to Research Before Moving Someplace - Your Place Finder

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About the Author

I founded Your Place Finder in 2017 to help retirees and almost retirees like you anticipate and overcome the pitfalls and challenges – and reap the rich rewards – of finding the perfect location to move for retirement.


  1. Mikey on Dec 14, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Pittsburgh and Seattle are THE cloudiest cities in the US. But still very desirable. Lots of rain means GREEN.

    • Margaret on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Mikey! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I’d like to point out that “desirable” is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone likes cloudy and rainy, even if it is green.

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