Moving from one home to another is one of the biggest jobs you’ll ever take on in life – and even more so when you’re relocating to another state! In this blog, I’ll share some of the most helpful tips I’ve found on what to look for when you’re moving, how to find your ideal realtor and your ideal home, how to understand a rental lease, and how to take care of your new home once you’ve completed your move.

What to Look for When Moving or Relocating

Here are some of the things you should look for when moving or relocating:

Weather: Pick an area with weather you can handle. Don’t like the rain? Portland, OR might not be for you. Can’t stand the cold? Minneapolis, MN might not be the right choice. Love lots of sunlight? Consider Gainesville, FL!

Housing: The housing market is extremely different from one state to another, and it varies a lot within each state as well. Before you pick a place to move to, research how much a home will cost you in each of the areas you’re considering. If you’re planning to rent, find out how much an apartment will rent for.

Cost of Living: Other cost-of-living expenses also vary considerably from one area to another, so research the cost of groceries, utilities, transportation and so on. Look for an area that you like and can afford to live in, with amenities that will make your life fun and interesting in your new home.

Public Transportation: Find out what kind of public transportation is available. If your new home has an excellent bus, subway, or light rail system, you might not need to own a car or you might not need to use your car as often.

Employment: What’s the job market like in the area you’re considering? Will you be able to freely pursue your career?

Education: Find out what the educational system is like in your new home. If you have kids, find the top-rated local schools.

How to Find your Ideal Realtor

Finding your ideal realtor is somewhat subjective because different people are looking for different things. Here are some tips on finding the ideal realtor for you:

Make a List: what are you looking for in a realtor? Do you want your realtor to be a good listener, or the type that will take charge and get it done? Are you more impressed by experience, sales skills, or positive attitude? Once you know what you’re looking for, it should be much easier to pick a realtor who has those qualities.

Get Referrals: if you know anyone in the area you’re moving to, ask them who they would recommend. If you’ve worked with a realtor before, they may also have recommendations – many realtors know other realtors all over the country.

Check their Listings: the realtor with the most listings is often the most successful realtor in a given area. This shouldn’t be your only consideration, but it’s worth taking into account.

Check their Track Record: check the Better Business Bureau, state records, and so on to determine whether a particular realtor has a good track record with customers.

How to Find your Ideal Home

The next step after finding the ideal realtor is to find the ideal home! Your realtor will need to know what kind of home you’re looking for. Here are some points to consider:

What You Need: this is what you actually need to make your life work, such as number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, number of spaces in the garage, and so on.

What You Want: this is the fun stuff! What kind of architecture do you enjoy? Do you want a patio, or a fenced-in yard? What about outdoor living areas? Wants should be listed as either essential or non-essential, so you can let your realtor know what you’re not willing to do without.

What You Can Handle: are you handy with tools? Do you enjoy having a weekend project? Then you might be able to save some money by buying a fixer upper. If you’re not the handy type, then you’d probably be better off buying a house that doesn’t need a lot of work.

What You Can Afford: lenders typically consider a home affordable if the price is no more than two or three times your gross income. You shouldn’t base your decision exclusively on this formula, though. Work up a mock budget and figure out how much you can realistically afford to pay.

What Your Plans Are: are you buying your forever home, or a starter you’ll only be living in for a few years? If it’s not your forever home, you should be more flexible about your list of “wants.”

How to Understand Leasing, Deposits, and Rents

What if you’re renting instead of buying, or renting temporarily while you look for a home to buy? In that case, you’ll need to understand how leases, deposits, and rents work. Here are a few helpful tips:

When you rent a place to live, the landlord will ask you to sign a lease. A lease is a contract between you and the landlord, setting out the terms and conditions of your rental agreement. Leases are legally enforceable, so you should always read them over very carefully.

Here are some of the things your lease will cover:

The amount of rent, which will most likely be paid on a monthly basis.

The amount you’ll need to pay to move in, which usually includes a security deposit equal to one month’s rent and sometimes includes the final month’s rent as well. If the move-in costs include first month, last month, and a security deposit, you’ll be paying three times the rental cost when you move in. When you move out, you’ll get a portion of the security deposit back minus any costs from damages to the rental.

Any additional fees for parking, pets, etc.

Information about who is responsible for repairs and maintenance. Usually – but not always – this will be the landlord.

Rules about pets. Some landlords don’t allow them; others allow only smaller animals or ban certain breeds. Some landlords require a pet deposit. If you violate the rules against having a pet in the apartment, the landlord can probably evict you for it.

The lease should include the landlord’s contact information, the date the lease begins and ends, policies for renewing the lease at the end of the rental period, and rules about rental increases. For example, the lease may specify that the landlord can raise the rent at the end of one year.

The date when rent is due, plus information about any late fees and when they would go into effect.

Information about who is responsible for which utilities. Some landlords pay for all the utilities, some pay for some of the utilities, and some don’t pay for any of the utilities. It’s fairly common for the landlord to cover heat and water, while the tenant pays for electricity, cable, and internet.

Rules about the maximum number of people who occupy the apartment, how often you can have overnight guests and how long they can stay, when you have to keep quiet, where you can smoke (if anywhere), when the landlord can enter the apartment, and so on.

Rules about ending the lease and moving out, including how much notice you have to give the landlord.

Rules about the circumstances in which the landlord can evict you, and how much notice the landlord has to give you.

How to Take Care of Your New Home

Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, everyone wants to live in a clean space where everything works the way it should. Here’s a checklist to help you take care of your new home:

Once a Week: Mop or vacuum the floors. Dust all the surfaces. Wash the shower, toilet, and sinks. Tidy up the yard. Wash all appliances.

Once a Month: Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Clean range filters and hoods to keep grease and grime from building up. Clean the filter on your furnace. Take a walk around the outside of your home, checking for loose shingles, wasp or hornet nests, damage to siding, and so on.

Once a Year: Wash all your windows. Clean all your gutters. Trim trees or shrubs. Clean and organize areas that are used less often, such as the garage or attic. Make improvements to the property if you’re the homeowner, such as installing a fence or adding a deck.

Niya Dix is the President of Royal Realty Services of Florida Corp., located in Gainesville, FL. If you’re looking for a beautiful new place to live in Gainesville, FL, contact Niya Dix at niya.dix@gmail.com or 352-359-8269

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