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How To Decide Where to Live

Insurance Ranked - Updated October 23, 2022
Auto Insurance & Homeowners Insurance & Renters Insurance
How To Decide Where to Live

7 Ways To Figure Out What State You Should Live In

moving-truck-with-boxes

In 2020, the following states had the most people moving inbound: Idaho, Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina. But before you consider packing up and heading out, it's important to understand that they might not be the best choice for you.

States in America vary dramatically. Not everyone wants to live in a large city or near the coast, and the incredible diversity of our 50 states means that there is an appealing destination for everyone.

That's why finding your perfect place-to-be starts with pinpointing what you want out of life, and then seeking it wherever you can find it. Before deciding which state is best for you — both your lifestyle and financial stability — do your homework and think about the following seven factors.

1. Cost of Living

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One primary consideration before you move will be the cost of living. Every state (and often, each city in the same state) has a different cost of living. For example, New York is the fifth most expensive place to live in America, with a high cost of living. On the other end of the spectrum are states like Mississippi, where your money will stretch furthest.

The key here is understanding how much you need to make to maintain your current lifestyle wherever you move because that same lifestyle may be tough to keep somewhere else. Some factors contributing to the cost of living in a state are:

Do your research to determine how much these items will cost and if you have the financial means to pay for them while also maintaining a decent quality of life.

2. Climate

woman-on-hammock-at-beach

The climate in America can have a significant impact on your decision to move. For instance, some people may prefer the warm summers in California, while others may prefer the winter snow of Colorado.

Climates range from tropical, continental, subtropical, and arid in America. The United States has some cities with dramatic environments. Some popular U.S. cities known for extreme climates include:

  • Chicago, Illinois;
  • Bismarck, North Dakota;
  • Boston, Massachusetts;
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;
  • Salt Lake City, Utah;
  • Denver, Colorado;
  • Fairbanks, Alaska.

Several cities enjoy pleasant weather all year, while various locations may have a climate that produces tornadoes, hurricanes, or wildfires. It will be up to you to determine if you want to drive in the snow, be exposed to a natural disaster, endure hot summers, and more.

Climate will also affect what activities and hobbies are available, such as skiing, hiking, and watersports. Of course, the other factors on this list should be considered, but climate may be a deciding factor in where you choose to live.

3. School and Career Options

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School and work are common reasons people would move, and some cities have more to offer in this respect. For example, some people may decide to move to a town with a prestigious law school program. They will often move to attend the school they want for their career. Other people may find that they are more interested in a specific job and opt to move.

In addition to these reasons, sometimes people might need to relocate for work or work from home. In this case, if you wanted a different location, but it's not affordable, you could get a remote job — or remote school program — that allows you to travel and still cover your living expenses.

It’s essential to consider current and future school and career options for you and your family if you are entertaining the possibility of moving.

4. Safety

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Before moving, it’s wise to consider crime rates, air pollution, access to healthcare, natural disasters, and more safety issues. Often, you may place more emphasis on one safety issue over another, which will influence what state you move to. For example, if you're concerned about air pollution, you probably don't want to move to a heavily populated, large city.

Whatever you're concerned about, do some research and see how the city you're considering handles that particular safety issue. Additionally, you'll want to know if a city has an exceptionally high rate of any safety concern to understand if it's worth the move.

5. Quality of Life

People are likely to consider many different factors when moving, but one of the most important things to consider is how good your life will be in that state. If you plan to be there for a long time, quality of life is paramount. This involves things like affordability, education, health, economy, and more.

If you are planning to make a long-term move or have children in the near future, quality of life tends to weigh heavily on most people's decisions. Currently, the top five states to live in include New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Idaho, and Minnesota.

6. Culture and Politics

America has a broad spectrum of cultural and political views and depending on where you fall on these spectrums, you may choose to live in one state over another. You may have a more conservative or liberal attitude than others, so you will want to know if the place you wish to reside in is a blue state or red state.

More religious people may want to go to a city with a high population of their religious affiliation to practice with like-minded people. If politics is a priority to you, you might want to go somewhere where your political views align with most people around you.

Cultural and political views can influence state policies as well. Wherever your opinion, you might be more comfortable with like-minded people making statewide decisions that align with your beliefs.

7. Geography

Geography, like climate, contributes to an environment you may feel comfortable in and the activities you can do. For instance, you may like the aesthetics of the brick streets of Northeastern states, snow-capped mountains in the West, or the beaches of the South.

In addition, geography often dictates how your city is shaped and laid out — the size, number and density of people, landmarks, and attractions; these are all factors contributing to a certain feel of a place.

Whether you want mountains for skiing and hiking, hot weather for lying on a beach, cities for museums and culture, or open space for camping and exploring nature, you will need to consider the overall geography of a place before moving.

It's difficult to say how much weight you should give one or the other factor when determining where to live. Where you choose to reside is entirely subjective, and there are a variety of factors to consider. From proximity to friends and family to quality of life to job prospects, your unique criteria for each item on the list will have to be carefully considered before making a decision.


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