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The‌ ‌Remote‌ ‌Worker’s‌ ‌Guide‌ ‌to‌ ‌Moving‌ - Things to Consider Before Moving

by Team NextBurb 4 May 2021

Articles

When I transitioned into fully remote work in 2020, I was faced with an unexpected, complicated problem: the question of where to live. After finishing my last day in an office in the Chicago area, I realized during a particularly cold sub-zero day in the middle of a Midwest winter that I no longer needed to live there. My clients were based in cities all over the U.S., and my commute every morning was just a short trip from the breakfast table to my desk, coffee in hand. This got me listing out different criteria for relocating and helped build a remote worker's moving guide.

When COVID-19 hit, my husband’s employer announced that they were ending the lease on their office space and that their teams would all be working remotely, and it was as if whatever had anchored the two of us to the Chicago area vanished. When we were on a road trip to the South and saw how mild the weather was in February, it hit us: we could go anywhere! We didn’t have to put up with icy Midwest roads and air so cold that it was hard to breathe outside.

The BIG question is - Where do you live? - A remote worker's moving guide

When the non-negotiables of our jobs that tie us to where we live are no longer an issue, a greater question arises: where do we want to live? Now that one in every four Americans will be working remotely in 2021, this question is on many of our minds. Such a big decision comes with a lot of careful thought: weighing pros and cons, setting realistic expectations, and evaluating what kind of personal connections will make moving worth it.

There’s no “right answer” about where to live, but the team at Nextburb understands the difficulty and necessity of finding a new home. These big decisions are often the hardest to make, as I’m quickly learning in the midst of my search for a new home. For a remote worker who can base their work from almost anywhere, the factors of what makes a place “home” come down to factors like climate, affordability, lifestyle, and community. From there, it’s a matter of deciding what’s most important for you.

What to consider when moving for a WFH job - A Remote Worker's Moving Guide

When it comes down to it, the factors that make up an ideal home can be broken down into several basic categories. There are practical aspects like how living in a location will impact your finances and what considerations you’ll need to make for your job. There are also categories that are more personal and depend on what you want from life: What kind of climate do you feel most comfortable in? What kind of lifestyle do you want, and how is it impacted by your location? How will you find a sense of community?

Since everyone’s needs are a little different when it comes to deciding on a home, think of these categories in our remote worker's moving guide less as a rule book and more as a starting point for your process. What’s important to you? What are the less appealing aspects of a location that you’re willing to put up with?

Climate

Family Barbeque lunch in the backyard on a sunny day! - A remote worker's moving guide

We all know that climate can have a big effect on our daily lives. When you map out your possibilities for moving, consider whether a location’s climate will impact your experience. Snowy winters may sound exciting until you have to shovel out your car before your 7 AM class at the gym. Others move to sunny San Diego only to find that they miss having distinct seasons like fall and winter. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where summers are mild and dry, and the humidity in Chicago bothers me much more than it does my husband, who is used to the hot, cicada-filled summers of Alabama.

Weather also dictates what kind of activities you will have access to throughout the year. Whether you already have a good idea about what you like to do outdoors (skiing, boating, hiking) or are hoping to try new activities when you move, a location’s climate is going to be a great judge of what will be available.

Work

What does your ideal home office look like? - A remote worker's moving guide

You’ll learn a lot about your working style when it comes to working remotely and setting up your own home office or workstation. Whether you work best in a light-filled room with others or in a quiet, isolated office, there’s a lot to consider when making sure that your new home will provide the place you need to be the most productive.

Does your WFH job require travel?

Those who work from home but travel often will want to be aware of their proximity to transportation, be it an international airport, Amtrak, or public transit that can provide access to a nearby facility of office space. My husband travels about once every other month for his job to major cities across the country, and being near a major international airport ensures that he can choose between direct flight options at any time of day to accommodate his project schedule. I write essays for art shows in Chicago, and having access to public transit that takes me into the heart of downtown allows me to get to galleries with ease without having to worry about traffic or parking.

Where do you want to work from?

Some of us long for busy, social workspaces where we can interact with colleagues or family members throughout the day. Others of us need complete peace and quiet. Do you need a closed-off office space tucked in the corner of the house where no one will bother you or a place to work with quick access to a kid’s nursery or a view of the backyard?

How will your location impact your work?

Your location determines a surprising amount about your ability to find the ideal workspace. Buying in a rural area or suburb in Missouri might allow you to afford a house with an extra bedroom for an office while living in Brooklyn will grant proximity to coworking spaces. On the flip side, renting or buying a home with an extra bedroom in Brooklyn might not fit into your price range, and the suburb in Missouri may not have the networking opportunities you need.

If you own a business, you’ll be looking for ways to network or affordable locations for an office or retail space. A town or city’s layout and social life can dictate a lot about whether or not you will thrive in a community. If you’re looking for new connections, research local events and coworking spaces that might provide networking opportunities in your industry.

Lifestyle

A visit to the local farmer's market - A remote worker's moving guide

The appeal of most places comes from the lifestyle that they promise, whether it’s skiing outside Denver or having California beaches only a few steps from your back door.

Lifestyle encompasses so much more than activities, as well: it’s how we each want to live our lives, whether it involves engagement with the local community, access to opportunities for travel, or proximity to good schools and programs for kids.

Determining how a location might suit your lifestyle is a matter of weighing the importance of different opportunities. Chicago is a great place for a relatively low cost of living and diverse community, but the cold climate means that finding organic, farm-grown food year-round is practically impossible. I was amazed when I visited a friend in San Diego who told me that she could source her produce from a locally run farmer’s market every weekend throughout the year.

Buying food locally is important to me, but so is having distinct seasons, which are not as apparent in southern California, so I’m left weighing the pros and cons of those options. Does the desire to see leaves turn in the fall seem trivial? It might, but if it’s important to you, then keep it in mind! If you want to be close to a strong video gaming community, then that can be a priority.

Financial Goals

What is the cost of living you’re willing or able to pay? - A remote worker's moving guide

Sure, everyone wants to move to Boulder, Colorado. But is it worth forking over most of your income for housing? Weighing between the location you’d like to call home and the reality of your finances is the most difficult yet one of the most important aspects of planning a move.

Cost of Living

A city or town with a high cost of living shouldn’t scare anyone away. Instead, it’s an opportunity to question your own priorities when it comes to your finances. You’ll find many people (myself included) who would argue that living in Manhattan and enjoying the energetic culture and lifestyle is worth the expense that comes with renting a tiny studio apartment. For others, spending $3,000 on rent for a studio is practically a crime.

What is the cost of living you’re willing or able to pay? You may want to pay less for rent in order to save up for graduate school or a child’s tuition, or you might be willing to fork over a higher mortgage in order to have access to downtown restaurants, lakefront views, or to be closer to your family.

Proximity to Community

Various hobby classes held in the community - A remote worker's moving guide

One of the biggest deciding factors for many remote workers’ move is the kind of community that they want or need in their lives. It can be exciting to move to a new city across the country, but it’s equally daunting, especially when you don’t know exactly what to expect in terms of community.

My father-in-law, Rudi, moved from Germany to the U.S. in his mid-thirties with his family. He told me that the shift in the community was more difficult than other aspects of the move. He settled down in a community in Florida with a good job, a new car and motorcycle, and a big house in a top-rated school district. However, once the novelty of the move wore off, found that he and his family still craved the familiarity of the culture they’d grown up in. Their neighbors were friendly and invited the family over for pizza and football games, but Rudi found himself missing the long, sit-down dinners with traditional German food and other aspects of his home that were hard to find in the states.

There’s nothing wrong with pizza or football, but experiencing a new culture can feel uncomfortable or even alienating. Rudi’s family eventually found friendships and ways to celebrate their own culture in their new home, but the transition into life in the United States was more impacted by the shift to a different community than it was by more noticeable issues, like language barrier or social customs experienced in day-to-day life.

Community dinners after game night - A remote worker's moving guide

The undeniable importance of family and friends

Community is a backbone of society that can be undervalued in a world of online relationships and work. Those who work mostly or completely from home experience both the advantages and shortcomings of interacting explicitly online with coworkers.

If your move will take you away from the physical office space or the option to meet with colleagues in person, consider how you will find an in-person community and how important that is to your emotional well-being. Is it good to consider moving to a location where you will have at least a few contacts to meet for dinner or for holidays? If you have a family or hope to have children, deciding whether or not to be near family is a big decision that will influence the availability you and a partner will have for work or personal time.

Finding a community near you

An advantage to online networking is that it’s not only work-related. Today, you can find community (or at least the opportunity to meet people) through Facebook Groups or platforms like Meetup. If you have kids in school, you can look forward to getting to know other parents. If you’re religious, then a church, synagogue, or mosque might be an important opportunity to find community.

Finding the “perfect” home

A remote worker's moving guide

While the goal of this search and process is to find a place where you will be truly happy, I have tough news: there’s a possibility that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” home. Why? While you can research, visit, and look up statistics of a town until you’re ready to go crazy, there’s nothing to guarantee what your experience will be like when you’re actually living there. The other factor that stands in the way of finding a perfect home is the aspect of change.

Expect to have wrong expectations

Why do so many of us set five-year plans? The truth is, anything beyond five years in the future can seem cloudy and far away. While most of us hope to find a community where we can put down roots and find the life we’re looking for, the goals that we have now might shift and change over the next few years.

Don’t let this discourage you: it’s a great opportunity to lay out the cards on the table and, to a certain extent, to follow your gut.

Setting Perspectives

In the end, your search for a home comes down to what you’re looking for in the present. By considering factors like cost of living, lifestyle, climate, community, and opportunities for your career, you can start to form a more concrete picture of what type of places will or won’t work for your needs and goals. We hope that our remote worker's moving guide was insightful and helpful to you.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be uncovering aspects of what makes a home enjoyable and how to guide your decision to move, especially when working remotely and looking for community, affordability, and the lifestyle you want for yourself or your family. Everyone’s search for a home is different and depends on more than on data or late-night searches on Google Maps. The journey to finding a home will be motivated by what you know will suit your lifestyle and what will inspire you to grow and find happiness, both personally and professionally.

Who are we?

Our team at Nextburb is committed to helping families and young professionals in their search for a home. With the help of our experts, discover the best places to live in the United States and find out more about neighborhoods to live in, school ratings, crime data, and real estate options.

We’ll provide you with recommendations based on your lifestyle and budget preferences to help you discover where you want to go. You can also register for our webinar below to understand how with the help of reliable data our experts help you discover your perfect neighborhood.

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