The big move
There are dozens of reasons why people pick up and
move -- a better job opportunity, proximity to family, lifestyle
changes and retirement being among the most common. But there is
one thing everyone who moves needs to do to make their relocation
a success: research.
If you're moving across town, you know what to expect.
But if your move will take you to another province or territory,
you need to do your homework. Otherwise, you may wind up living
somewhere that doesn't suit your lifestyle or, even worse, is too
expensive for your budget.
Grant Hunter, co-owner of The Home Hunters, in Calgary,
is a relocation expert. He says when people move to another city,
their new job and salary rank foremost in their minds, when "cost
of living in the new location should be a major factor."
Gathering information about your target community
is crucial to a smooth transition, he says. You should consider
the term for which your new position is guaranteed; travel time
between a prospective home and the office; and amenities such as
schools, daycare, transit and sports facilities.
Lastly, you must consider how likely a home in your
target community will appreciate in value compared to your current
Know what you're looking for
Make a list of neighbourhood amenities you desire. Do you want to
live in a rural or an urban community? Are you willing to commute
to work, or would you prefer to walk or ride your bike? Are recreational
facilities important to you?
If you have school-age children, Hunter suggests calling
local school boards directly with questions or concerns. While a
chamber of commerce will provide prospective buyers with a wealth
of knowledge, don't swallow their information hook, line and sinker.
A small northern community might sound charming, or
a seaside urban centre exciting, but ask yourself: can you live
in a place where it snows six months of the year or rains for weeks
on end? Know what you want and what you can live with.
The local library and Internet are excellent sources
of information. Search engines will cough up a load of sites if
you look under "relocation." Look for demographics, crime
statistics, cost of living comparisons, major employers and school
And when you're getting close to a decision, remember
that more and more real estate companies offer online tours of the
homes they list.
Hunter says you should also be clear on what your
company will do for you. For example, some companies will guarantee
the sale of your home. Others will specify the number of trips or
volume of expenditures they'll underwrite while you visit the new
community to search for a new home.
"Will you be able to purchase your new home before
your existing property is sold through corporate bridge-financing
or personal interim financing?" Hunter asks.
Finding comparable housing
The biggest jolt for relocated employees is usually housing. Most
companies offer relocation incentives to employees in the form of
lifestyle bonuses or cost-of-living and salary increases to ensure
they achieve an equal or better standard of living.
Don't take this for granted, though. Ask if that's
how your company operates. Get quotes from reputable moving companies
and compare them to the amount of money your company is willing
to give you for moving costs.
Before you sign any contracts, investigate the destination
housing market yourself. If your salary increase is small, but the
city to which you are moving is not as expensive as your current
one, your standard of living could improve substantially.
Conversely, if you are offered a much higher income,
but are moving from Winnipeg to Vancouver, you might watch your
standard of living decrease or remain static due to disproportionate
Talk to local experts
Visit a mortgage specialist or real estate agent in the new location,
preferably someone who comes with good references. Someone with
experience in relocation usually has a system in place to make relocation
successful. So, take the time to interview an agent and speak to
some of his past clients to ensure he can commit the time and services
Whether you're looking for a better job, the perfect
retirement community or just an opportunity to get the heck out
of town, it pays to do your homework -- make the phone calls, visit
new neighbourhoods, talk to people. It could save you money and
Withers is a business journalist, business-book editor and author
of a best-selling teen novel.