By Jill Robi
Apr 25, 2022
With home prices reaching record highs and mortgage rates soaring, you’re likely looking for ways to cut homebuying costs. Maybe you’re even thinking of relocating to find a more affordable home.
Nabbing a property that won’t break your budget is an excellent option in a challenging market. But remember that many more particulars go into relocating than just the home price.
“Relocating could be the best thing for some people to start over or get more in life,” says Shavahnna Hunt, a Guaranteed Rate vice president of mortgage lending in Flossmoor, IL. “Just know what you’re getting into and how much risk you’re willing to take.”
If you’re strongly considering making a move outside of where you currently live—but within your price range—here are five questions to ask yourself before making an offer and packing up.
1. Can you afford the moving costs?
Be sure to factor in the cost of moving houses before heading off to a far-flung area.
Professional movers cost about $1,633 for short-distance moves under 100 miles. But according to HomeAdvisor, that price jumps to between $2,200 and $5,700, depending on weight and distance.
“As a real estate specialist, the best and most essential advice I can give when moving to a house is to budget wisely,” says founder and CEO of Mortgage Relief Dan Belcher. “Make a list of all your moving costs, and try to budget them in order of priority. And set aside money for unanticipated costs, as relocation can be costly nowadays.”
To save money, sell items you no longer need, pack yourself, and get estimates from at least three movers.
2. What is the average cost of living in the new area?
The cost of living is how much money you’ll need to cover your basic expenses and includes food, local taxes, and health care, among other essentials.
“And consider the cost of utilities and managing the home,” says Lori Ballen, a real estate professional at Keller Williams Realty in Las Vegas.
Remember that the average cost of living can vary based on your family’s size and lifestyle. For example, those who commute to work by car will have a different transportation budget than those who bike.
Want to know the difference in the cost of living between your current city and a new city? Check out this cost of living calculator.
3. Will a new neighborhood accommodate your lifestyle goals?
“Buying a home is never rainbows and butterflies, but relocating to another area makes it that much harder,” says Jackie Konopka, a Montclair, NJ, Re/Max Central sales associate. “Take some time when you begin your home search and do what I call a ‘neighborhood boot camp.’ Go see the towns that interest you in person.”
And don’t forget to consider your lifestyle goals. These can include your career development and activities or hobbies you want to pursue.
“We all want to thrive and enjoy life,” says Estel Hilton of Estel Estates in West Hollywood, CA. “So write a list of the 10 most important things you are looking for in a new area. But have realistic expectations. Nothing is 100% perfect. I always say, if you get 80% of what you asked for, then the area will work.”
4. Is the area’s culture suitable for me?
Family might mean children to some and elder care to others. And to some pet owners, it includes their beloved pets.
“The most important thing you have to be aware of is the appropriate environment and culture for your family,” says Dino DiNenna, a broker at Georgia’s Hilton Head Realty. “If the city doesn’t match with the type of culture you prefer, you will not feel comfortable in the long run.”
So think about the kind of community that best suits your family. That could be a suburban, kid-friendly neighborhood or a nightlife-rich city of young professionals.
5. How flexible are you?
Many homes are more affordable due to where they’re located, and some are priced low because they might be lacking a few amenities. That could be a covered garage or finished basement. So be sure to drill down on what you are willing to live without.
“If your goal is to get an affordable house, my best advice is to be as flexible as you can on what you’re looking for,” says house flipper Phil Bryson, of Desert Pro Home Buyers in Phoenix. “The more detailed your list of requirements … the more likely you won’t find a home for a long time. You’ll miss out on properties that still hit many of your wants with which you’d be perfectly happy.”