Lists of the best places to live in the United States hit my inbox daily. Best places for coffee lovers, doughnut lovers, chocolate lovers, families…the themes have no end.
Most of these lists are “cute” and fun. Yet most of the lists do not take into account the many things that make a place home and liveable.
We who live in Rockridge (Oakland), Berkeley, San Francisco and other glorious Bay Area cities have a truly hard time thinking “Where would I move if I sell?”
We have fantastic weather, food options, job possibilities, culture, places to volunteer, universities for continuing education, libraries…even animal shelters and medical facilities.
How to decide where to move and if you should buy or rent
When you’re 55+ or maybe 60+ you’ll have different priorities than when you were 30 or 40…back when we had to commute to jobs.
Decisions are a little more complicated, and perhaps more fun, if it’s you and a partner planning your future.
Things my clients think about when deciding if they want to sell their house and move include the following. (Get in touch to brainstorm on where you might like to move — and if in the end you might prefer to stay just where you are!)
- What kind of lifestyle do I want in the next 5, 10, 20 years?
- How important is outdoor space?
- How important is privacy?
- Is being part of a community where you can say hello and chat with neighbors more important than privacy and sharing some spaces?
- Do you anticipate needing frequent medical care?
- How important is being close to friends and family as well as other places you love…libraries, religious institutions, schools, symphony, shops you love?
- Do you plan to be away from home a lot, traveling or living a bi-coastal life — or maybe own a house abroad? You’ll want to really envision your ideal life and think about if you will be away from home. In fact, these days there are very exciting possibilities for retiring and being a globe-trotter while keeping costs down and earning passive income as you travel. Ask me for ideas!
- Does weather factor in as a Top 5 in importance? Honestly as a Bay Area and California person, I’ve given living on the East Coast a go several times — in places that have extremely hot and humid summers. There are definitely parts of the East coast and South that are less humid (think Asheville — in the mountains — a very popular place to move these days). Yet if you’ve always lived somewhere that doesn’t require hunkering indoors with the A/C blasting, you might want to think twice about moving to somewhere which blazing seasons.
- How important is security in terms of being able to stay in your place? My personal belief and experience is that the older we get, the more important it is to know you control the future of where you live. Even if a city has senior citizen tenant protection laws, owning your own place gives you unparalleled security…as long as it’s affordable and you have good insurance in case of disasters, of course.
- Would I really prefer to stay where I am now? If so, how can I make my current house or condo work for me in the long run? It can be very easy to make a house accessible. It is often possible to do some remodeling and create a space to be able to get rental income.
Do I really have to sell my house?
These days there are myriad financing options to turn your long-time house into a piggybank if you prefer to keep owning it.
And there are great options for updating your house and selling it for top dollar, if you decide you’d like to move to another city, county, state or country!
Or maybe a combination of all of those.
Get help deciding where to move from California
The Wall Street Journey published a 2023 list of great cities for remote workers to live. along with a tool to find your own best place to live. If you can’t access the WSJ “where to live” tool, ask me to search for you!
I ran a few tests based moving to Maine, a state I know very well in addition to knowing California and Oregon very well.
The suggestions based on a few factors such as 1) near an airport 2) fast wifi and 3) affordable location produced an interesting list. It also left out a few towns and cities that I definitely think someone relocating would want to consider.
Working with an experienced real estate agent or relocation specialist
Consider me your “where to live my best life as I age and love places with great food” consultant. No charge! (Transparently, if I refer you to an agent anywhere in the world, they will pay me part of their commission if you buy a place.)