Are you planning to stay only a few days in a hotel while you scout a new city for relocation? If so, you could be in for a few surprises after your big move.
Maybe your work commute takes 45 minutes during the weekday rush hour, not ten minutes like it did on that Sunday test run. Or you may realize that grocery costs are super high and even then, you can’t find a decent tomato.
The key to scouting a new city is acting like you already live there. Take a tour of these 10 tips below on how to get a true feel for the city before you make your move.
1. Watch the Local TV News.
Is the mayor embroiled in corruption? Where’s the worst rush hour traffic, and what areas pop up on the news with the most heinous crimes? And what are the neighborhood cranks grousing about lately? Not only will you get a feel for what it’s like to live there, you’ll find out a few good things about the city too.
2. Skip Tourist Attractions.
Instead, consider experiencing local, low-key happenings, says Holly Gray, a Seattle real estate agent. “It’s there that you can get a feel for the people and the culture in a more subtle and authentic way,” she says.
3. Talk to Real Estate Agents.
Real estate agents are ideal to connect with when considering a move, says Gray. They drive to multiple areas of the city and can offer traffic tips and tricks in addition to pointing out the best restaurants and local hangouts.
4. Check Out Parks and Malls.
Barbara Mcgarity of Dallas suggests strolling through parks and shopping malls to see what the kids and parents are really like. Are public spaces well-maintained, and how do people treat them? What you notice will tell you whether a city actually cares about their public areas and families, she says.
5. Pretend You Live There.
The best way to scout a new city is to rent an Airbnb or other short-term rental, says Roy Steele, who transferred from New York to California and has lived abroad. Shop at the grocery store to see what things cost and check out local groups that interest you.
“The key to a successful move is finding your tribe,” says Steele. “Once you find people who share your interests, everything else falls into place.”
6. Pay Attention to Proximity.
Keep track of how long it takes from different areas of town to get to your job, airports, gyms, parks, restaurants, sports arenas and anywhere else you’ll want to spend time, says Krystal Rogers-Nelson, a safety and security expert in Salt Lake City. Be sure to also take a few rides on public transportation to get a feel for its availability and convenience.
7. Strike Up Conversations.
“Speak with anyone who will give you the time of day,” says Airto Zamorano of Marlton, NJ.
“People are quick to want to show off their area and tell you where you should go and what you should know,” he says.
8. Drive in Rush Hour, Walk in the Cold.
“You can learn a lot very quickly by dealing with heavy traffic, and what options you may have to avoid it,” says Zamorano. Consider doing your rush hour driving or walking during unpleasant times of year so you’ll know what it’s like to experience rain, snow and extreme heat or cold.
Try out public transportation, see how bike-friendly the roads are, or how long it takes to summon a Lyft.
9. Check for Favorite Brands.
If you love a certain brand of chips or are loyal to a particular barbecue sauce, you’ll want to know if your new city doesn’t have it so you can stock up.
“Take a tour of the grocery stores and pharmacies to check out what products and brands are available locally,” says Marianne Perez de Fransius, co-founder of Bébé Voyage, a website for parents traveling with small children.
Sample new local brands to see if you like them too.
10. Make Local Contacts.
Acquaint yourself with a few locals and add them to your phone contacts while on your scouting trip and before the actual move.
“There will surely be things that you forgot to do or ask during your trip, and it will be an extra comfort to be able to ask questions of someone you trust,” says Perez de Fransius.