Preparing For A Family Move? Read This First

There are many important decisions that need to be made in our parenting journeys.

We always want to make the best choices we can to ensure the safety and security of our family, and to provide a strong foundation for our children’s future.

But one decision can be among the most crucial you will ever make, and it is one which will make a huge impact on your children.

Do you find yourself in the situation of having to make a move for work or personal reasons?  This milestone can be a difficult one for the entire family.  Some families choose to move to be closer to family, their original hometown, or for other personal considerations.

But some, like our military families or others relocating for employment, may find moving a bitter pill to swallow, especially when uprooting their children.

Each year, several companies and private institutions review national data to help families in finding the best cities and states in which to live — helping you and your family to better adjust to a life-changing transition.

The criteria used by many companies and publications in coming up with their recommendations for the best and worst places to raise children are based on federally-collected data which can include:  median income from the U.S. Census Bureau, local and state crime rates from the FBI, population under age 18 and percentage of homes owned versus rented, also from the U.S. Census.

Other criteria can be pulled from state transportation institutes to determine traffic patterns and commute times, or from education sites that monitor the quality of local schools.

Since many organizations collect their data from the same standardized sources, like the U.S. Census Bureau, the ratings for 2017 seem consistent across the board.

Parents Magazine reported on the ten best (and worst) states in which to raise children with data collected this year, and specified some of the criteria making each of these states a great place for families:

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, Iowa, Connecticut, Utah, New Jersey, North Dakota and Virginia all top the list for the best family-friendly states this year, noting exceptionally low rates of violent crime, best overall ratings for quality of schools, high graduation rates and income levels, and a variety of cultural experiences for families to enjoy.

Meanwhile, these are the ten lowest ranking states: Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, Arizona, Alabama, West Virginia, Georgia, and Texas. Using the same criteria as choosing the best states for families, these states ranked poorly in educational opportunities, crime rates, employment and income levels, and the general quality and availability of family activities when compared with other states.

Every city and state has pros and cons to take note of when considering a move.  Parents can do their part by researching some of the above criteria for themselves, either online or by contacting local government offices, schools, or even visitor’s centers.

Keeping in mind that every family has a different background and list of criteria they wish to find in their new hometown, there are ways you can make an informed decision on the best place to raise your children with the information available to you.

No matter where you decide to move or where you may have to relocate for work, MarketWatch offers some great tips to help you make an informed decision on what to look for in a neighborhood or city to best suit your family’s needs:

* Affordability

No matter what your pay grade is, living comfortably and within your means should be your first concern.

*Taxes

Did you know that there are five states that have no sales taxes? That’s right: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon don’t collect sales tax for retail sales and some services. In addition, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming don’t collect individual income taxes.

* Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities vary from state to state and city to city, so spend some time researching the job markets in different areas of the country. Start by analyzing quality employment opportunities within your industry, then determine where the highest concentration of these jobs are located.

* Real Estate Value

Since buying a home is the single largest investment you will probably ever make, you need to seriously consider this factor. With real estate in a constant state of flux, it’s important to research current home prices, the length of time homes are for sale, the resale values of homes, and probable long-term value estimates.

* Crime Rates and Statistics

No one wants to live in a high-crime area, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can live in a Utopian society where crime never happens. By researching the crime rates and statistics for various areas, you can learn more about the safety of a town or neighborhood.

And family should always come first. Perhaps most importantly, if you are able to choose where you will be moving, having a good support system is vital.  Children benefit from having a strong family foundation in which to grow and thrive — the more family and friends around, the better!

Other factors to look for when making a move include:

*Climate

Does your family love spending time on the water or prefer a snowy mountaintop to ski? Do your kids play a lot of soccer, or are they involved in hockey?  Finding a warm or cool weather climate to suit your needs can be a big factor to some families.

*Population

Do you come from a small town and want your children to grow up with the same experiences, or are you a city dweller whose family loves the hustle and bustle of crowds?

*Cultural experiences

Is your family interested in museums, the theater or ballet?  Then living near a big city may be a good fit for your family.  Or do you prefer the quiet parks and local hangouts of a smaller town?  While any place you move will have some cultural experiences to offer, some areas may be a better fit than others.

And especially important in making a decision that impacts your child is the quality of the local schools.  There are many online resources available that report statistics of local school districts and individual schools.

Market Watch continued:

Economic well-being included places with affordable housing and well-paying jobs; education factored in quality schooling in children’s younger years; health was based on overall development and health care, substance abuse and nutrition; and family and community factored in strong social-emotional relationships and resources children could use to grow mentally and emotionally.

It is always important to remember that if a move is difficult on us as parents; it is even more stressful on our children, especially if they already have a strong foundation in their school and with friends.

Allow your children to help you research all the fun activities available in your future home.  Let them make a list of things they are interested in doing once you settle in, and stay positive and enthusiastic about the new adventure you are set to embark upon.

Have you experienced a recent move with your family?  How did you research and prepare to make the best decision for your children?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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