Finding the Right Fit: How to Evaluate the Overall Pulse of a Community Before Relocating

By Natalia Wolting  • Jan 31, 2024
South Bend - Morris 100 Fest

The prospect of moving to a new community can be exciting but also stressful if you’re unsure whether it’s the right fit. Beyond researching schools and housing, take time to evaluate the overall community vibe—or pulse—to determine compatibility with your lifestyle, values and priorities before taking the plunge to avoid future disappointment. Here are some ways to get started:

Research Demographics and Population Trends

Understanding the demographics of a community is a crucial first step. Consider factors such as the average age of residents, the presence of families with children and the overall growth or decline in population. Stable and diverse demographics often contribute to a vibrant community with a mix of amenities catering to various age groups.

Analyze Crime Rates and Safety

Safety is a top priority for any family considering relocation. Look for communities with low crime rates and a strong commitment to public safety. Additionally, consider the presence of neighborhood watch programs and community policing initiatives, as these can contribute to a safer living environment.

Explore Education Options

For families with children, the quality of education is a critical factor in choosing a community. Research local schools and educational institutions to evaluate their performance, reputation and available extracurricular activities. Additionally, consider the availability of private schools, daycare facilities and after-school programs to ensure comprehensive support for your children's academic and social development.

Assess Employment Opportunities for Your Partner

Even though you work remotely, if your spouse or partner doesn’t, you need to evaluate the job market and employment opportunities in prospective communities. Look for data on local industries, unemployment rates and the presence of major employers. A thriving job market can contribute to economic stability and overall community well-being. Consider whether the community aligns with their professional goals and offers opportunities in their field. You should also research networking events and job fairs to gauge the potential for their career growth and advancement.

Gauge Community Amenities and Infrastructure

The availability of amenities and quality of infrastructure greatly impact the overall pulse of a community. Research parks, recreational facilities, shopping centers and healthcare services. Consider the quality of public services such as transportation and utilities. Access to a well-maintained infrastructure contributes to a comfortable and enjoyable living experience.

A community's cultural and recreational offerings also play a significant role in its vibrancy. Explore events, museums, theaters and recreational activities available in the area. Look for local festivals, community gatherings and opportunities for social engagement. Communities in the South Bend/Elkhart, Indiana area offer city life, lake life and a university town all in one region.

Maybe lake life in the South Bend/Elkhart Region is for you?

Shadow a Local

If you’re still unsure about a community, shadow a volunteer local willing to host your visit. Find candidates on tourism boards, university alumni groups, or community bulletins. Spending a full day experiencing their typical routines offers a close-up view of things like the local food scene and recreation options and the pace of daily life in the community. For example, remote workers looking for a slower-paced life that’s surrounded by nature should consider finding a local to shadow in the Eastern Kentucky area.

You'll be surrounded by nature in Eastern Kentucky,

Go Beyond the Surface

Look beyond the obvious. Peruse local publications to spot enlightening stories or concerning trends affecting the area 12% of U.S. adults get their news from social media so monitor neighborhood social media groups for real talk on hot-button issues, economic changes and more. This will help you verify your preliminary good vibes with grittier local conversations.

Trust Your Instincts

Make note of gut reactions during your visit too. Do interactions seem friendly? Does the downtown district feel lively or empty? Are public spaces utilized and maintained? Positive vibes serve as subtle indicators of the community dynamics that suit your family and bode well for your happiness as a new resident.

Evaluating a town’s pulse takes legwork but prevents the headache of relocating somewhere misaligned with expectations. Spend time there to read between the lines before committing to a new community long-term. A thoughtful evaluation process will contribute to a successful relocation and the establishment of a fulfilling life in your new community.

About MakeMyMove

Remote work has freed millions of Americans to live where they want, and many are making the move to places that better match their lifestyle. In turn, cities and towns across the country are offering incentives like cash, perks and programming to remote workers who move and work from their communities. At MakeMyMove, you can explore all the places, get personalized help to find the one that’s right for you, connect with locals, and access support to make your move a piece of cake.