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Find Utopia Banner - Best Places to Live

1. Define
Goals

2. Find Best
Places to Live
3. Best Place
To Live Lists
4. Research
Places
5. Visit
Cities
6. Business
Job Options
Step 4 - Research the Communities

City Profiles:

Now that you've narrowed done your possible places to live, it's time to get detailed city profiles on those markets. There are websites that have specific demographic, economic, and real estate information for cities that you specify. Some of these sources also allow you to compare cost of living between two cities. We've included a few of these comparison sites since not all locations are listed on each one and the numbers vary by the data used to tabulate the results. Because of these variances, you should use more than one site to get a more accurate estimate of cost of living differences.

DataPlace - this site has an enormous amount of information. It uses a wide range of government data ranging from the Census to the IRS and consolidates it on one site. It will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about any locale in the country. It basically puts all the government population and demographic statistics at your disposal.

Epodunk.com - This site has some of the same information, but it's presented in a more informal and friendly format. It also has background information and more localized descriptions about characteristics of the community you research. There is information about what colleges, museums, and other attractions are in the area. It also has some unusual Top-10 lists like- best places for gays over 50, most Starbucks per capita, college towns, Irish towns, liberal towns, etc.

Moving.com - A comprehensive site that has a section with neighborhood information that provides city profiles and city comparisons. It also has lots of info about moving in general.

City-Data.com - provides city profiles plus maps, weather averages, satellite photos

RelocationEssentials.com - city profiles plus school and neighborhood screeners

CNN.com/2004 Election Results - you can look at how various states and counties voted in the last presidential election. This can help you determine what the political climate is in your prospective cities.

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Cost of Living Comparisons:

Cost of Living Calculator/Bankrate.com - provides estimated costs for dozens of items in six broad categories -- groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.

Cost of Living Calculator/CNNMoney - this site uses information provided by the American Chamber of Commerce. The information here is free while there is a fee for the information on the ACCRA site.

Homefair.com - This calculator tells you how your salary equates in different cities. Has a useful feature where you specify whether you'll be owning or renting. This can make a big difference in some markets where rents aren't that much more expensive than in cheaper cities, though owning a home may be.

Salary.com - Learn how your disposable income will be affected by a relocation between any combination of 300-plus U.S. cities. The Cost-of-Living Wizard also reports the salary adjustment needed to maintain your standard of living, and what salary increase or decrease is likely given local market factors.


International Locations:

EscapeArtist.com - Has useful info on international real estate, overseas relocation, jobs, and general expatriate issues.

InternationalLiving.com - lots of information on living and moving outside of the USA. You can sign up for informative e-letters, purchase guide books and sign up for international relocation seminars.

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Local Real Estate Information:

Housing prices - There is a difficulty finding accurate information regarding housing costs in specific cities. There a quite a few sites (some we previously mentioned) that offer average costs, but you will notice that they usually come up with different prices for the same markets. We've included some sources that we think are more accurate.

Home Price Comparison Index/Coldwell Banker - The information is based upon sales data compiled by their offices in over 300 markets. Since this comparison is based upon actual transactions, we think it may provide more reliable information. Some sites estimate prices based upon government indexes or other less reliable methods of extrapolation.

Zillow.com - This is a new site that has amazing features. You can type in a residential street address and it will give an estimated price and sales history for that property. It also shows the value of other homes in the same area. It even shows you an actual satellite photo of the house and you can zoom out to see more homes in the neighborhood. And in some markets it's not just the roof of the house, you can view all four sides of it.

Find Utopia Relocation Resources - check out some of our link partners who can help find your best place to live or retire.

Realtor.com/National Association of Realtor - this site has 2.5 million real estate listings from almost every local MLS affiliate in the country. Some of the local sites provide more detailed information on the specific listings, but this site has all of them for all the markets. You can also use a technique to determine accurate median sales prices in any market.

When you search for single family homes in a given city, the results will give you a total number of homes listed in that market. Divide the number by 2 and then look for that particular number listing. The price of that home will be the median- 50% of the other homes will be either higher or lower in price. For example, if a market has 250 single family homes listed, the 125th listed home will be the median price, since homes are posted in order of price.

House Price Index/Office of Federal Housing - This government site provides housing price change information in most markets around the country. It has historical data so that you can track the valuation trends over time in each area. It uses data supplied by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and is based on millions of transactions.

Continue on to Step 5 >>

Find Utopia- Search for your best places to live or best places to retire. Relocation information on cities, cost of living, housing prices, retirement communities. Please Note: External third party links are NOT affiliated with FindUtopia.com and are provided for your reference. These third party websites open in a new browser window and are subject to the terms and conditions listed on each respective site. We are not responsible for their content and accuracy or liable for any damages or claims resulting from their use.
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