You’re Moving Across the Country (or World)…How Do You Find Your New Home? Part Two

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organization table to plan for a move and compare potential new towns.


At this point, I have narrowed my focus down to 1-2 towns.  My goal now is to find areas within those towns where we’d like to live.  I’m NOT trying to find THE house yet.  I’m continuing to narrow the entire world of possibilities down to a handful.

I start by looking at houses listed on (if you’re not military, follow the same steps using realtor websites for your area).  Reading over the lists of houses linked to the base we’re being assigned to, I can start to see a pattern of areas where other military families are concentrated.   That’s not a guarantee that we’ll be happy in those areas, but it gives me a place to start looking.  I’ll use Preparing for a Move Town Comparison – Step One worksheet {here} to evaluate each area according to characteristics that are important to us. 

organization table to prepare for a move and compare potential new schools.

1.  With 3 children ranging in age from 9 to 16, the most important consideration for us is schools.  I start at to get a feel for the schools.  I use this as a first “sort” of schools.  Test scores and rankings only give you a snapshot of a school, and not the entire picture, but that’s all I have access to from across the country or world.  So recognizing the limitations of this strategy, I list all the schools for that town on a spreadsheet with their individual ranking {here}.  I refer to this spreadsheet in the next step when we’re considering specific houses.  Depending on the area, my husband and I pick an arbitrary cut-off ranking, usually around an overall school score of “7” on the website.  This cut-off number simply reduces the number of schools being considered to a more manageable number.  There are situations where you may want to consider schools with a ranking lower than the cut-off score you chose.  Use the chosen cut-off score you choose to help you, not to blindly limit your choices.

How to Decide Where to Live When You Move
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organization table to prepare for a move and compare potential new towns.

2.  I evaluate commute times for that town or area to locations that will be important to us.  I do a gps search to figure out the average commute times to jobs, schools, medical care, activities, airport, and shopping.  I add this information to my Preparing for a Move Town Comparison worksheet {here}.

3.  As part of step 2, I research commuting options for different towns and areas.  Is driving the best option or is there a public transportation system that would work better?  Do people in that area carpool or “slug” (as they do in the Metro Washington DC area)?  You may be accustomed to driving everywhere, but at your new assignment, alternate modes of transportation may be a better choice.  Keep an open mind and this will help you evaluate different areas.
4.   If having particular activities accessible is important to your family, research where those activities are located.   For example, if your daughter is a gymnast, you’ll want to evaluate which are the best programs, where those programs are located and the commute distances from towns you’re considering.
At this point you should have found a couple of areas that meet your criteria.  You’re now ready to start looking at individual houses in those target areas.  Next comes the fun part – finding your home.


Other Posts in this series include:  You’re Moving Across the Country (or World)…How Do You Find Your New Home? Part One  and You’re Moving Across the Country (or World)…How Do You Find Your New Home? Part Three

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