Moving School: How to Know When It's Time to Find a New Home

How do you know it’s time to move? Close to 35 million of us Americans pack up and relocate each year, and we usually do it for one of these top four reasons:

NEEDING
MORE SPACE

WANTING
LESS SPACE

FINDING
BETTER SCHOOLS

SEEKING A
SAFER COMMUNITY

Sometimes, emotions or finances can compete with the rational voice in your head wailing, “It’s time to go.” This course will help you know when to make your move, and then show you how to tackle your search based on your specific situation.

  • OUTGROWN
  • OVERWHELMED
  • SCHOOLS
  • COMMUNITY

Lesson 1

How to find out if you’ve outgrown your space

It's funny how life changes constantly. It's not funny when your current home doesn't support these changes. While it may feel like your home is shrinking, it's more likely you're experiencing these four signs of having outgrown your space:

  • 1. You've added family members to your team
  • 2. You've added (furry) family members to your team
  • 3. Your priorities or lifestyle has changed recently
  • 4. You're having trouble entertaining and accommodating guests

Your House Hunting Assignment

Here, use this list to help you approach your home search as you're looking to upsize from your current place.

  • List the shortcomings in your current space
  • Establish the number of bedrooms and bathrooms needed in your next home
  • Consider your furniture (will you need more or less, bigger or smaller?)
  • If you're using one, have a conversation with your Realtor about your goals.

FINISHED? ON TO THE NEXT STEP

Lesson 2

How to determine if you’re overwhelmed by your home

Between regular maintenance, renovations, and cleaning, owning a house takes work. And if your house supports the lifestyle you want, that work is often worth it. But situations change. You may be overwhelmed by your home if you're experiencing the following symptoms:

  • 1. You spend more time cleaning your house than enjoying it
  • 2. There are several unused rooms in your place
  • 3. You feel bogged down by bills
  • 4. You want to reduce your monthly mortgage payment

Your House Hunting Assignment

If you're feeling overwhelmed in your current place, keep this list near and dear as you hunt for a new home.

  • Establish the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you'll need
  • Brainstorm a list of features and amenities that are most important to you
  • Consider your furniture (will you need more or less, bigger or smaller?)
  • If you're using a Realtor, clearly communicate your goals with her/him
  • Trash or donate all of your unnecessary clothes and home items

FINISHED? ON TO THE NEXT STEP

Lesson 3

How to identify an area with better schools

Nobody teaches you how to point out a good school district in life – until right now. To be fair, finding good schools happens by evaluating a list of tangible and intangible factors, many of which can be hard to judge. That's why you need to understand first what the best schools tend to look like. And they look like this:

  • 1. Strong leadership
  • 2. High and clear expectations
  • 3. Ongoing student, teacher, and administrative evaluation
  • 4. Documented goals and a clear direction
  • 5. Security and organization

Your House Hunting Assignment

When you're searching for a home in a better school district, this should be your approach.

  • Narrow down your home search to a specific region first to avoid searching the entire country for good schools.
  • Ask for a school's "Report Card" (it's required by law to be public)
  • Use resources like School Digger or 
Public School Review
  • Visit and observe classes
  • Ask family and friends (but NOT your Realtor, as it's illegal)

FINISHED? ON TO THE NEXT STEP

Lesson 4

How to pinpoint a safer community

If you want a safer community, then you're going to have to know what one looks like. Safer communities often share common characteristics. It's not an exact science, but you can expect to see:

  • 1. Well-maintained homes
  • 2. Several local organizations present in the community
  • 3. Green spaces
  • 4. Few homes for sale
  • 5. A high ratio of owners to renters
  • 6. Fliers posted on telephone polls and community boards

Your House Hunting Assignment

Go into your home search for a better community using this safety-first approach.

  • Use crime search resources such as Crime Reports, Spot Crime, or NSOPW
  • Check out how many homes are for sale in the area (fewer often means safer)
  • Tour the area and see the conditions first hand
  • Strike up a conversation with someone at a local coffee shop and ask how they feel about the area

FINISHED? ON TO THE NEXT STEP

The Loan You Choose Matters

Different strokes for different folks, different loans for different goals. When you buy a home, you need to consider all of your options to make sure you're choosing the right loan for you. Take a look at this quick overview.

FIXED-RATE

The lowdown: Offers the stability of a fixed rate with the same monthly payment over the life of the loan.

ADJUSTABLE RATE

The lowdown: Starts off with a low, fixed rate during the initial term. Afterwards, the rate adjusts with the market.

FHA

The lowdown: Allows for less-than-perfect credit, a down payment as little as 3.5%, and may be easier to qualify for than a conventional mortgage.

VA

The lowdown: Made specifically for active or retired service members and certain people in their family.

Time to Weigh Your Options

Let's compare your loan options to figure out which may be right for you.