Where to Begin?
What Are Your Priorities?
If you're thinking of moving, first ask yourself what kind of environment you're looking for. Urban, suburban, or rural? A progressive area or one with a conservative value system? "The decision is very individual, and it won't be the same answer for everyone," says Linda Gillespie of Zero to Three, an organization that supports the healthy development of infants and toddlers. Once you determine the type of place you're looking for, you'll want to address the day-to-day practicalities.
- Prepare for trade-offs. Where there's low-cost housing, there may not be high-paying jobs -- and conversely, where there are high-paying jobs, housing might cost a fortune. Figure out which situation is most comfortable for your family.
- Consider your individual needs. Do your job skills make you employable only in specific markets? Do you want to find a stellar public school system or are you looking for a community that supports homeschooling? Factors that make one community appealing on some levels may not have the mix your family needs.
- Plan for a healthy support network. That doesn't necessarily mean living around the corner from Mom. "Many people live without extended family near them these days," says Gillespie. A community of friends and like-minded parents, convenience to shopping and doctors, and access to quality childcare are just a few of the ways new parents can build infrastructure into their lives.
Begin Your Search
Talking to friends and new parents is an easy way to start, and real estate agents are always a great source on relocation issues. Here are a few Web sites to help you with your search:
- U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov) The champions of demographic record-keeping post their considerable findings here.
- Sperling's Best Places (bestplaces.net) allows you to compare your community directly to others according to housing costs, school districts, and other variables.
- National Child Care Information Center (nccic.org) provides links to dozens of reports on daycare issues, organized by state.
- PSK12.com ranks public schools by language arts, math, and science test scores in 25 different states.
- Slowlane.com Stay-at-home dads can search this site to find local playgroups and other handy resources for fathers.