Chapter 8: Should I Stay or Should I Go? – Choosing Your Home Location

Chapter 8 helps you through the process of deciding whether you want to move, and if so, where.

8-1      Decisions, Decisions.
You have examined your needs and considered the changes you will be facing, formulated your life list, assessed your financial situation, started right-sizing, done a functional assessment, and reviewed housing options. Now you are in a position to make the all-important decision of where you will live in the coming years.

8-1-1 Reasons You May Want to Move to a New Location.
The majority of people approaching retirement age want to continue living where they currently reside for as long as possible, either in their current home or in a different home in the same general area. You may or may not be one of them.

8-1-2 Reasons You May Want to Stay Where You Are.
Now that you have considered some of the reasons you might want to move, let’s think about why you may want to stay put.

8-1-3 A Few More Thoughts About Location Choices.
It is important that you research your housing options while you are still healthy, and before you are forced into an option you may not prefer. If you decide you want to move to a retirement community, know that there are often long waiting lists – sometimes multiple years – and you need to get on the list for the community you want now. That way, your name will come up while you are still young enough to form some sort of bonds within the community. Do your research now to help you to avoid regrets that you picked the wrong community or failed to sign up on time to meet your needs later.

8-2      Location Choice Hierarchy.
Now that your mind is working, let’s try to organize your thoughts and figure out your predominant needs and wants. Then you can make a decision on location. Table 8-2 is a Location Choice Hierarchy (LCH) matrix that will help you.

8-3      Deciding Where to Buy –Case Study.
We will use a case study in this section to provide examples of how people work through trade-offs in their LCH to arrive at a location to live, and a home in that location. We start at the state level, and then drill down through counties and cities, all the way to neighborhoods and homes.

8-3-1 Setting Out Your Priorities.
Your situation and priorities impact where you choose to live, and whether you like the choice or not. The Location Choice Hierarchy table clearly recognizes that many of the “choices” we make are driven by external factors over which we have limited control.

8-3-2 Finding the Right State and Area of the State.
For John and Karen, the first step in constructing their LCH, picking the state and area within the state to live, will be challenging. As lifetime residents of Madison, they need to do quite a bit of research to begin isolating areas to which they might like to move. While they know the amenities, climate, and cost of living they want, they also need to make sure they are close enough to a major airport for ease of traveling to see their kids, grandkids, friends, and other relatives.

As we work through this case study below for John and Karen, download the respective blank templates from the companion website (fho50.com) and fill them in to fit your own unique priorities. Your motivations, priorities, top prospects and eventual choices may be much different than those of John and Karen.

8-3-3 State Maps and Comparative Tables.
John and Karen start their research by accessing a state map of the United States as shown in Map 8-1.

8-3-4 Finding the Right Counties and Cities.
John and Karen now move from focusing on state attributes to focusing on city attributes. Template 8-3 shows the LCH wants and needs they will attempt to satisfy in their county and city search and evaluations. You can download and customize a blank version of this table..

8-3-5 Learning More about Each City Area and Drilling Down to Neighborhoods.
Now, Karen and John drill down to factors influencing choice of city area and neighborhood. They want to make sure they pick their home in the right section of the city area and neighborhood. Like most people, Karen and John view the quality of the neighborhood in which a home is located as one of their most important selection considerations.

8-3-6 Defining Your Housing Needs and Wants Inventory (NWI).
Next Karen and John set out some of their home needs and wants in a table format so they can readily see what is most important to them. Downloadable Template 8-5 shows how the couple filled out their table. You can download a blank version of the table and edit it to fit your own needs, wants and priorities.

8-3-7 Pausing Before the Next Step; Summarizing Your LCH Parameters on a Single Page.
Downloadable Template 8-6 brings together all of John and Karen’s most important state, city, and neighborhood location choice hierarchy parameters in a single schedule. After sifting through all the work and research they have done to this point, they gain satisfaction by being able to summarize their thoughts on a single LCH summary schedule.

8-4 Case Study Carve-out: Reviewing Community and Neighborhood Maps for St. George, Utah.
Karen and John research each of the nine city areas remaining on their list. For demonstration purposes only, we will focus on the search results John and Karen obtain for the St. George, Utah area…

8- 5  Online Search for Community Information.
John and Karen perform a bit more research about the St. George community before it will be time to look online at individual homes for sale. They find that St. George’s public transit system does not have trains. It does have over 140 bus stops and 6 fixed routes serving St. George and Ivins. SunTran provides a map of the bus routes online, as shown in Map 8-17.

8- 6  Online Home Search Sites – Initial Filters and Searches.
Now that John and Karen have gained some familiarity with the layout of St. George and surrounding areas, they decide to start looking at homes. It is too early for them to fly out and actually start looking in person at homes. For now, they can make use of extensive online tools to start to gain a feel for the housing market in each location before they begin making trips. They start with home search sites such as Zillow.com,Redfin.com, Realtor.com, and a host of others.

8-7 Perform Your Own Personalized Analysis.
The case study presented in this chapter provides a framework for analysis and points you to the type of maps and tools that are available online to help you. Based on your wants, needs, and priorities, set your own search variables and filters and start zeroing in on locations that are most suitable for you.

8-8 Bibliography for Chapter 8.