In Sam Mendes’ comedy Away We Go, Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) decide that if they are going to be parents––and they are––then they should start acting like grown ups and find a real place to live. For the rest of the film, the two visit friends and family in different cities to figure out where they should put down roots.
In real life, we have the Internet. If you want to relocate, there are sites to tell you where to go. If you know you are moving, there are sites to giving you the where, how, and even why of finding a new life.
Where Should You Live?
Given the web’s new mania for quizzes, it’s no wonder that there exists a range of quizzes each calibrated to reveal the proper city for you. Think of it as internet dating, except in this case you’re looking for a nice, sexy city to settle down in. But not all quizzes lead to the same to same town.
What City Suits You Best provides a series of questions (and most annoyingly, a series of ads and data gathering questionnaires) before delivering you to your dream city. In my case, that was San Francisco: “You're laid-back, environmentally friendly, and most people would call you a hippie if you weren't on the Internet all day long.”
Find Your Spot has been around since 1997, with the numbers to prove it. They claim, “this year over 1.1 million people will finish our quiz and find their Spot!” The exam provides a pretty thorough and straightforward filtering process, with questions about income, weather, age, hobbies, etc. Here both Portland, OR and Albuquerque, NM were cities I should put on my map.
From BrainFall, a quiz happy site, comes What City Should You Live In?. This site takes a less than orthodox approach for sizing you up. Question # 7 asked, “When you go out to a party, what do you put on to cover your rear?––a) Shorts or sweatpants; b) Slacks or a dress; c) Who has time to go out to parties these days?; d) Skinny jeans; or e) Doesn't matter--it will be coming off by the end of the night.” According to this site, I should pack my bags for Paris.
Sperling’s Best Places takes a no-nonsense approach with a calculated sifting of priorities to arrive at the answer. The site is generally a showcase for computer programmer Bert Sperling, who has been creating programs to analyze data for a number of media outlets. He points me to either San Francisco or Boston.
Another straight-laced test comes from the money management company Kiplinger. Unfortunately as part of Ten Best Places to Live, Work and Play segment, the answers to the quiz are restricted to those cities. As such, I would end up in Des Moines––which by the way is number 9 on the list––if I were to follow their advice.
The Real Cost of Living Elsewhere
Once you’ve learned where you should live, don’t you want an idea what it’s going to be like. Will you be better off? Worse off? Or possibly murdered? A range of sites provide Cost-of-Living calculators that crunch your numbers to give you a sense of what you can expect to make and spend. Money at CNN not only calculates a comparable salary, but also breaks down the financial changes to groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, and healthcare. Homefair’s Cost-of-Living Wizard tells you how much have to lose or gain by moving by calculating the percentage difference in both salary and expenses. If I were to move to Albuquerque from New York City, for example, I would end up with almost 25% more disposable income. In San Francisco, however, I would just about break even.
Of course, it’s hard to put a price tag on some things, like, for example, personal safety. But Area Connect gives you a few numbers to throw around by comparing crime rates in 8,213 cities. According to the site, I might have more money in Albuquerque, but I’m also four times more likely to get it stolen, and three times more likely to get assaulted along the way. Yikes.
Getting Your Move On
Enough web surfing. It’s time to hit the road. E-How provides a step-by-step guide for getting from proposal to property. One Simple Move may be the most comprehensive site going from providing list templates to emailing you notices, reminders to tell you that today is the day that big truck will be pulling up to your front door. Moving.com (http://www.moving.com/) is also a helpful site providing a access to moving companies, real estate companies, and coupons for being the new folks in town. If you want a green move, Josh Peterson at Planet Green oulines six points for how to Move Across the Country the Eco-Friendly Way, from where to find a biodiesel truck to how to recycle your moving boxes. Of course, you could also just stay put.