Retirement and Moving: Location Research 2

Vine covered cottageI retired a few years ago. Last year I decided to move to a new town in a new state. In my experience, the more you know about a big change before you make it, the better your chances it will work out well. Hence, I researched and found a great deal of useful information that made it easy to pick a town that was virtually perfect for me. It takes some time to do this, but it was worth it. When I arrived in my new town, I already knew what was here and could start living well right away.

I covered the first half of the research in last week’s post. Here’s the second half. These websites offer in-depth information on where to find the following things in most towns and cities in the US: reasonably priced short term housing; apartment and house rentals; homes for sale; job and volunteer opportunities; nearby colleges and universities; local airports; train and bus service; good doctors, specialists, chiropractors and dentists; hospitals and clinics; farmers markets, local shopping and restaurants, the cheapest gas; a variety of services and senior services; religious and spiritual groups; cultural events; and interest groups and classes.

Be sure to bookmark the webpages and put them into a folder so you can find them again when you need them.

Short Term Housing
You may want to visit one or two towns in person and will need someplace to stay. You may also need a place to stay temporarily when you first arrive in town. Motels and hotels are great but expensive. Airbnb and Vrbo offer nice accommodations at more reasonable rates. If you need a place for a week or a month, call the owner of the rental and ask if they will give you a lower rate for a longer stay. I used Airbnb and a friend of mine prefers Vrbo.
Airbnb
Vrbo.com

Apartment and House Rentals
There are lots of rentals on Craigslist, but I didn’t find one I liked at the time I was looking. So, I looked up all of the local property management companies on Google and went to their websites to look at their listings. I picked several properties and was taken by the rental agent to look at them one afternoon. That’s how I found my wonderful new home in the neighborhood I preferred.
Craigslist
Google

Homes for Sale
If you want to have a realtor pick properties to show you, go to the website of your preferred realty company and look at the listings. I prefer to do my own research. You get to look at a much larger selection of properties. I go to Zillow and Trulia. When I’ve found several properties I want to see, I ask my realtor to show them to me and then take care of the sales transaction. Finding a good realtor is important. If you’re looking for some tips, here’s what I do. I like to meet several realtors, ask them all of my questions (I made a list first), and then decide who to sign on with based on good chemistry, a good feeling about their integrity, plus their in-depth knowledge of houses in the area and their long term experience with the process of home buying. You can find local realty offices on Google and Yelp and their office locations on Google Maps. Google and Yelp have some overlapping results, but each usually has some that the other doesn’t have.
Zillow
Trulia
Google
Yelp
Google Maps

Local Utility Companies
I searched on Google for the local phone, internet, cable TV, satellite TV, electricity, natural gas and other utility companies and called to get their rates for the services I wanted. I looked, but didn’t find customer service ratings online for small providers, but I did find Cnet ratings for the national providers like Century Link and Comcast. As it turned out, the national providers had the worst reviews. When I moved into my new home, I introduced myself to the neighbors and asked them who they thought was best and went with them. So far, no problems.
Google
Google Maps
Cnet Cable and ISP provider reviews

Banks and Credit Unions
I searched on Google and Yelp for local branches of my current bank and local banks. I found their office locations on Google Maps. I’m going to switch from my bank to a credit union, so I searched for local credit unions, too. To find out how financially healthy the different banks and credit unions are, I researched them on Bankrate. They rate financial institutions on a set of stringent criteria.
Google
Yelp
Google Maps
BankRate Bank and Credit Union rating

Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities
I looked at part time jobs on Craigslist and the large job websites that offer part time jobs, like Indeed, Career Builder and Simply Hired. I searched for “community service organizations (name of town)” and “charitable organization (name of town)” on Google and then looked at their websites for volunteer opportunities. I found their office locations on Google Maps.
Craigslist
Google
Indeed
Career Builder
Simply Hired
Google Maps

Colleges and Universities
Colleges and universities offer interesting classes and often present music, dance and theater performances. I searched on google for “college or university near (name of town)”. I visited their websites for event and class listings and found their campuses on Google Maps.
Google
Google Maps

Nearby Airports, Train Service and Local Bus Service
I found airports within reasonable driving distance on Airnav by searching for airports in my town and other nearby towns. I searched for airport limousine services to get me to larger airports that are farther away. I searched for local “train stations (name of town)” and “bus company (name of town)” on Google and then went to their websites for routes and rates.
Airnav
Google
Google Maps

Doctors, Specialists, Chiropractors, Dentists, Hospitals, Clinics
I searched on Health Grades and Vitals for information on doctors, specialists, surgeons, osteopaths, homeopaths, chiropractors and dentists. These sites list medical education and training, years in practice, affiliations with hospitals, patient satisfaction ratings, recent board sanctions and actions, and recent malpractice claims.  They also offer information on hospitals and clinics including ratings on the conditions they treat and the procedures they perform. They have patient review of doctors and hospitals, but I didn’t give them much weight. Opinions are very subjective and I may not agree with others’ ratings. For those of you who want to check on the quality of education and training a doctor has had, you can check that in U.S. News and World Report’s medical school ranking. Also, when I arrived in town, I asked people I met to recommend their health care professionals. The combination of website info and local recommendations worked well and as a result I’ve found very good doctors, a great dentist and a good hospital. I found their office locations on Google Maps.
Health Grades
Vitals
U.S. News & World Report Medical School Rankings
Google Maps

Farmers Markets
I searched google for “farmers market (name of town)”, went to their websites for information, and found their locations on Google Maps.
Google
Google Maps

Shopping and Restaurants
I looked on Google and Yelp for my favorite types of restaurants, health food stores, antique stores, clothing stores, book stores, office and art supply stores, Costco, Target and whatever other stores where I like to shop. If there’s no local store that sells something you need, you can get it is online and often less expensively.
Google
Yelp
Google Maps

Cheaper Gasoline
Gas is so expensive. Here’s a website that shows where to find the cheapest gas in town. Prices are updated frequently.
GasBuddy

Services and Senior Services
I looked for good auto mechanics, plumbers, accountants, lawyers, senior centers, auto licensing and registration, AAA (for roadside service), insurance agents, etc. on Google, Yelp and Google Maps.
Google
Yelp
Google Maps

Religious, Spiritual and Community Service Groups
Whatever your particular persuasion, search for it on Google and Yelp, then find the location on Google Maps.
Google
Yelp
Google Maps

Cultural Events and Festivals
I searched for “newspaper (name of town)” on Google, went to their website and looked at their events calendars to find music, theater, arts, festivals and other events. I also searched Google for “(month and year) music concerts (or plays)( or festivals) in (name of town)” and found several other websites that list events in the area. Some of the listings overlapped, but each site had events that the others didn’t. There are nationwide event calendar sites, but those didn’t have listings for the small towns I was interested in. The good sites were small and local or regional, so I haven’t listed them here. The Craigslist Events section for my new town sometimes has interesting events, too. Other people have told me that the Craigslist Events section in their area was full of assorted flotsam and jetsam, but no events. It’s worth checking to see if it’s good for your area.
Google
Craigslist
Google Maps

Interest Groups
I wanted to meet people with similar interests, so I searched for local walking, book, mushroom hunting and other groups on Google. The search terms I used were “walking (or book or other) group (name of town)”. Craigslist and Meet Up may also offer groups in your area. Craigslist has a Groups section which lists actual groups in some towns and flotsam and jetsam in other towns. Meet Up seems to give better results in larger towns and cities. Public Libraries often sponsor events, too. I found the locations on Google Maps.
Google
Craigslist
Meet Up
Google Maps

When I was finished researching my town picks, I knew exactly where I wanted to live. That’s where I moved and I love it.

Did you research your upcoming move? What worked for you?

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