How Teachers Can Select the Ideal Community for Their Family

By Natalia Wolting • Feb 27, 2024
Male teacher working alongside a student.

According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the United States is experiencing a shortage of qualified teachers across the nation. This shortage is attributed to various factors, including retirements, increased student enrollment and a decreased number of individuals pursuing teaching careers. As a result, schools and districts are actively seeking qualified educators to fill vacant positions. With so many districts struggling to fill openings and retain quality teachers, those entering or considering the profession have an opportunity to carefully evaluate teaching in communities based on their lifestyle, priorities and family needs. As teachers weigh their options, they should keep a few key factors in mind when selecting the optimal community.

Cost of Living

With teacher salaries failing to keep pace with the cost of living in many metro areas, affordability should be a prime consideration. While desirable locations often come with higher home prices and rents, salaries don’t always align. Teachers looking to stretch their salaries should consider communities in the state of Oklahoma which boosts a median home price that is 99.6 lower than the national average and a cost-of-living score of 82.2 according to the website BestPlaces. Teachers can also qualify for a signing bonus of up to $50,000 that’s available throughout communities across the state.

Quality of Schools

Considering that educators are deeply invested in education, the quality of local schools is a crucial factor. Teachers often seek communities with strong school systems, where their own children can receive an excellent education. Websites like GreatSchools provide school ratings and reviews, aiding teachers in making informed decisions. Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia is a great example. It is nationally recognized for its music education program and has received state and national awards for recruitment and retention, counseling, transportation safety and communications. Forbes also named the school district as one of the country's “Best Employers for Women” in 2020.

Improved Well Being

The demand for teachers presents an opportunity for educators to prioritize their work-life balance. Communities that offer recreational amenities, cultural activities and a supportive work environment contribute to this balance. Muskegon Public Schools embraces this in their motto “Strong Schools, Stronger Communities” and not only do they offer new teachers to the district a $15,000 signing bonus but the school district is located near Lake Michigan with access to 28 miles of beaches.

Muskegon, Michigan sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. Teachers relocating to the area can enjoy easy access to the outdoors.

Community Culture and Values

Every community has its own unique culture and values. Teachers may prefer communities that align with their personal beliefs and lifestyle choices. Evaluating an area’s cultural offerings, outdoor recreation, dining scene and other lifestyle benefits can provide insights and guidance. A visit to Hartford Public Schools' websites quickly lets teachers know about their culture and values as well as the diversity of the community that makes up their student body. As one of the largest school districts in Connecticut, they serve families in nearly 70 towns providing teachers with an ample selection of communities to settle in as well as a $5,000 signing bonus.

Job Security and Career Growth

While the current shortage allows for greater choice, teachers should also consider the long-term prospects of their chosen community. Assessing job security, professional development opportunities and the potential for career advancement is crucial for long-term career satisfaction. Superintendent Dr. Michelle Rodriguez of Stockton Unified School District in California agrees and says she’s committed to supporting professional growth and ensuring teachers have the resources and support they need to provide a high-quality education to every student. Teachers new to the district can also qualify for a $10,000 signing bonus.

New teachers in Stockton, California can qualify for a bonus of up to $10,000.

The current teacher shortage has presented educators with a unique opportunity to exercise greater control over their career paths. While salaries and school quality naturally take priority, family-friendly amenities, welcoming neighborhoods and cultural vibrancy all enhance the quality of life for today’s teachers. Leveraging shortage conditions to relocate where salaries sustain reasonable costs presents opportunities for educators to enjoy teaching again while providing stability and enrichment for their families.

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.