Relocation 101: Buying a Home When You Don’t Know the Area

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on October 18, 2017

The word “conflicted” perfectly describes how homeowners feel when they face the reality of moving to a new city. It’s exciting and mind-numbing, frightening yet courageous, and it brings up feelings of both melancholy and elation.

Moving from one home to another disrupts your life, but moving from one town to another is a major upheaval. You’ll feel several moments of angst when you relocate – not the least of which is watching the moving van drive down the street, fearful that it’s the last time you’ll see your belongings.

Between that point and now, you’ll need to find a real estate agent, a neighborhood, and, finally, a home – all in a town that may be thousands of miles away.

Relocating doesn’t have to be an awful process. We can help you make a plan to get you into your new town, neighborhood, and home – without many of the hassles.

Your Ideal Home

The first step in the relocation process is to know exactly what type of home you want. Single family? Multi-family, condo, or townhome? Get clear on what you want.

Then, decide how much room you need – both living space and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. And, don’t forget the exterior! If you buy a condo, you might not have much choice about outdoor areas. But with other kinds of homes, determine what you need outdoors.

  • Do you need a garage? If so, how big?
  • Is a backyard important?
  • Do you need outbuildings?
  • Is a swimming pool on your wish list?
  • If you garden, how important is an existing irrigation system?

Choosing Your New Neighborhood

The type of home you want may help narrow down your choice of neighborhoods. For example, depending on the city you’re moving to, condos may only be available downtown. If you want a luxury home, you may only find them in certain parts of town. If you’re bringing the horses, boat, or golf clubs, knowing what you want will help you choose a suitable neighborhood.

In general, you will need to answer some questions to figure out where you want to live:

  • What is your priority? Is it a quick commute to work, being located in a quality school district, close to public transportation or recreational amenities?
  • Do you crave urban living or are the suburbs more to your taste? Rural living has a lot to offer as well.
  • Do you love the sound of kids playing outside our window or does it grate on your nerves?

Research Is Your Friend

If you don’t know yet how much you can afford to spend on your new home in your new city, see a lender. And once you have a handle on your budget, you’ll find that the home-buying process is much more manageable.

Don’t forget to take into account that the cost of living where you’re moving to might not look at all like the cost of living where you live now.

  • How much do groceries cost in the new town? A gallon of milk in New York City, for instance, is $4.20. You can buy that same milk in Phoenix, AZ for $2.20, according to’s Emily Rella.
  • Utilities? One of the things that most shocks Las Vegas homebuyers is the cost of utilities. It’s not at all unusual to have a $300 monthly power bill in summer from the Buffet-owned NV Energy.

To get a handle on your future costs, find an online cost-of-living comparison calculator, such as this one at CNN Money or one with more detailed results at

Let’s Find a Neighborhood

Now you know what you can afford to pay for a mortgage each month, it’s time to see what’s available in your price range. If you’re moving for a new job, map the area surrounding your new workplace to find the neighborhoods with a tolerable commute. Then, research each one.

A good place to start is City-Data – the folks who hang out in the forums there have lots of good information.

For example, let’s say you’re moving to Minnesota’s Twin Cities, and you want to live within 30 minutes of your new job, which is in Minneapolis. You’ve checked out a Google map of the area and determined that Edina, Maple Grove, and Excelsior look like cool towns to explore.

Get your list of must-haves in home and navigate to City-Data and click on “Minnesota.”

You’ll be taken to a new page with a list of cities; click on one of the cities you’re curious about. The new page is full of information about the city but, if you scroll down the page, you’ll find a listing of the latest posts in that city’s forum.

This is where you’ll find the nuggets of wisdom that will help you decide whether or not it’s the city for you.

It’s Time to Get Help

Where will you find that help? In the form of a real estate agent! If you’re selling a home in your current city, ask your listing agent for a referral to an agent in your new city. If you’re not selling, ask friends, family, and colleagues for a referral to a local agent who can help you.

One final tip:

Don’t rely on the information about homes that you find on the big real estate portal sites; much of it is unreliable. They would like you to think that they have all of the active listings in any given area, but they don’t.

The only accurate listing of homes available is in a region’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database, which can only be accessed by licensed real estate agents.

Accokeek MD Homes for Sale and Real Estate Services in Southern Maryland. You now have a search engine to help you with your Southern Maryland home search! And I’m ready to provide you with a custom home valuation if you’re considering selling your home. Let’s connect to discuss how I can help you. Contact Kimberly Bean at 301-440-1309

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