When planning a move, some of us struggle with where to move to, wanting to find the best place to live. This is especially true if you're moving to find a better job, a better school or because you've gone through a difficult time. Even if you know where you're moving to, it's always a good idea to do your research first, knowing how the city you're moving to compares to the one you're currently living in.
A great (free) online resource is Sperling's comparison tool. Sperling's Best Places provides a city comparison tool that is fun to use and provides a lot of detailed information that's helpful for people who are thinking about moving. Along with being able to compare two cities, a third column provides the rate for the US overall. For instance, for cost of living factors, the US average is considered to be a 100 score. From this score you can compare where your two cities rank.
How to Use the Comparison Tool
The tool is really easy to use. Simply type in the two cities you want to compare, then click the compare button. This produces a table with three columns, one for each of your cities and one for overall US information.
How to Read the Results: The People Category
Information contained within the "people" category pertains to demographic data including, overall population, percentage of males and females, percentage married, median age, as well as information on race distribution and family structure. With data being easy to read, they provide a good overview of which city might have more appeal depending on your perspective. For instance, if you're older, you're probably more interested in the number of libraries than nightclubs.
Cost of Living Category
The most useful category is "Cost of Living".. This category contains information on food costs, housing, transportation, health and utilities. They also provide an overall rating for a quick comparison between the two cities as well as the entire US. At first, the rating seems a little difficult to read. When comparing both figures to the score given to the US overall, you can see which one rates higher.
Converting this to a percentage point makes more sense. If you hover your mouse over the category titled "Overall", you'll see which factors were included in the score and how each are weighted.
Housing Costs Category
Housing scores provide details that reflect mortgage payments, costs of renting and property taxes.When comparing these numbers next to the US score, it's easy to see whether you're moving to a very expensive part of the country or less expensive. Again, each score is relative to the perfect score of 100, so when making your decision where to move to, remember to assess how your city score relates to the perfect score.
Remember, while you're going through these scores, the data contained within the table are general statistics; they won't give you specific information on neighborhoods, areas of employment or other often critical information such as recreation facilities, amount of green space, cultural activities and overall livability of an area. But it's a good start and may help you rethink your decision of where to move to
Crime Rate Category
When considering crime rates, the same logic applies. Compare your choice cities against the US average to determine whether you're moving to a city with higher crime rates. Just remember that a city's overall crime rate doesn't speak to how neighborhoods compare. So before you move, you should always look at crime rates and mapping tools in the area you want to move to.
Overall, this is a great tool and a good starting starting point, in particular if you have a lot of flexibility in where you're moving to. Or even if you know which city you're moving to, this tool will help you compare where you currently live to where you'll be going; it'll give you a perspective that you might otherwise be missing. After you've done your research using this tool, then you'll be ready to move to a more detailed research search.