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Renting vs. Buying When Relocating to a New City

There’s no easy or “right” answer to whether you should rent or buy when  relocating to a new city. In addition to the considerations one would normally weigh in the age-old ‘rent or buy’ debate, the added dimension of relocating  can make the decision even trickier!  

Whether you’re relocating or not, the decision will depend on many factors,  including housing market conditions, and your individual circumstances, goals, and  preferences. Here are some additional factors you might want to consider  when you’re moving to a new city altogether. 

Commitment Level 

Generally speaking, if you can’t commit to staying put somewhere for at least 3  to 5 years, buying might not be the right option for you. Consider your  reason(s) for relocating. If you’re moving for a job, and in the event that that  job didn’t work out, would you still be happy living in this new city? If you have  any doubts about the place you’re moving to, renting can buy you some time  to make sure that this is the place you want to be for the long-term. Peace of  mind is a priceless thing! 

Familiarity with Neighborhoods  

To find your ideal home, you have to consider a lot more than just the kitchen  layout, bathroom finishes, or how much storage there is. When you’re  relocating to a new city, what might be even more important than those factors  is that you understand the various neighborhoods and what they have to offer. 

Safety levels and crime rates, schools, amenities, traffic patterns, walkability,  and personality are just a few of the details you might want to know about your  new potential neighborhood!  

If you’ve never stepped foot in the city before and you don’t have a trusted  source who can help paint a better picture of the locality, renting first might be  a more desirable option for you. Renting will give you a chance to scope out  the different neighborhoods and determine which one is right for you (and  your family, if that applies).  

Time and Energy  

Relocating can be an emotional and stressful experience. From saying  goodbye to family and friends, to packing up all your belongings, and maybe  even dealing with the sale of your current home — there are a ton of things  you’ll have to deal with. Ask yourself if you can handle the added pressure of  purchasing a new home while all this is going on.  

Since finding and buying a new home is a huge undertaking, you’ll need to  have the bandwidth to take it on. If you feel like circumstances might be  rushing you into a purchase, renting could be the better option for you! But if  you’ve got plenty of time and energy in advance of your move, purchasing  property might be a no-brainer. 

Personal Goals  

What is it you’re looking to achieve at this juncture in your life? What is most  important to you? Perhaps you’re really striving to pay off some debt, or  maybe your top priority is getting your kids settled into a good school. The  decision to rent or buy when relocating will depend largely on your personal  goals and reason for relocating. 

Are you looking to put down roots somewhere? Or are you thinking about  buying because it seems like the right thing to do?  

Do you have a big enough down payment for the type of property you really  want? Or would it make more sense to keep saving for a larger down payment?  

Is renting first and then buying later an option? Or is the idea of having to  move twice absolutely incomprehensible to you?  

Perhaps your main goal is long-term financial gain, and you’re willing to take  your chances buying property in an unfamiliar city. Whatever your individual  preferences, they will surely play a large role in determining whether you  should rent or buy.  

The Verdict  

Although this doesn’t apply to every situation, overall, we think that renting for  a few months before you buy is a wise decision when it comes to relocating.  Of course, it will depend on individual circumstances and all the factors listed  above; but as a general rule, renting first could save you a lot of hassle in the  long run.  

You can think of renting like test-driving a new neighborhood! Would you  purchase a car before seeing it in person or getting behind the wheel?  Probably not! Although there are exceptions to every rule…  

If you’re trying to make this difficult decision, analyze your situation and do what makes sense for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the opinions of others, so stick to the facts. Try to balance logic with emotions on this one, and don’t do anything you’re uncomfortable with! When in doubt, remember that a lease agreement is a lot more forgiving than a purchase agreement.

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