Have you ever taken a vacation somewhere and thought to yourself, "I wish I could live here"? The fact is, you could live in that vacation destination, but your brief experience spent as a tourist may not be the same as that of a resident.
As part of the evaluation of the country's 100 most populated metropolitan areas for the U.S. News Best Places to Live 2016 rankings, a Google Consumer survey of more than 3,500 people across the country asked them where they would like to live and what they believed was the most important thing to consider when thinking about moving. From the answers received, the overall ranking was determined by a percent weighting of each of the five indices created by U.S. News: Job Market, Value, Quality of Life, Net Migration and Desirability.
The Desirability index accounts for immeasurable factors of opinion including climate, culture and entertainment. As a result, many popular vacation destinations made it in the top 20 of the Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. ranking. However, once combined with the other four indices many of those most desirable places didn't make out well in the end. When considering where they really want to live, people may not recognize what they actually need in order to move and live somewhere comfortably.
To help determine if your favorite vacation destination would make a great hometown, here are four things to consider before moving and committing to a life as a full-time resident and not just a part-time visitor.
Compare cost of living and the housing market. Vacations allow you to experience and see the best parts of a city. You get to leave behind the stresses of your everyday routine, only needing the funds, accommodations and travel arrangements for that short period of time you're away.
Home and rental costs can get pretty high in just about any major metro area, especially near the city center, leaving the more affordable housing located outside of the tourist zone, in the suburbs.
Loved your last visit to San Francisco? It ranked No. 7 on the list of the Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S., but the housing prices in the metro area are almost three times the national average of $218,867, according to online real estate database company Zillow, which is also causing the cost of necessary expenses – food, transportation, fuel and utilities – to increase as well.
But if you're considering moving down south to Orlando, Florida (No. 16 most desirable), a hot spot for tourism and it's the home of Walt Disney World and other family vacation destinations, you'll find housing costs to be about $188,250 which is slightly lower than the national average.
Contacting a local real estate agent can be beneficial to those who are considering moving and have questions about housing costs. Being direct with your agent and stating your long-term goals can help in the decision of purchasing a new home, says Derek Kamm, a real estate agent specializing in luxury properties at Keller Williams Realty in Honolulu, which was voted the No. 1 most desirable place to live.
"It is critical, as we head into a market shift that long-term goals are brought into the overall equation when deciding whether or not to purchase [in Honolulu]," Kamm says. Thinking about your needs as a homeowner for years down the line help to take you out of the vacationer mindset, and will tell you if buying in Honolulu, for example, is a good investment.
Visit in the off-season. Prior to purchasing a home, potential homebuyers should plan to visit the location, possibly multiple times. This period of stay will provide a brief experience of what there is to expect if the homebuyer decides to commit to living there for years to come.
Be sure to experience the area in the off-season, a time when tourists are the least likely to visit. Those less populated months will uncover those less marketable or unappealing qualities, such as unfavorable weather patterns, closed local attractions and nearly empty social spots.
The winters in New York City (No. 11 most desirable) are known to be legendary with occasional snowstorms that bring the city to a standstill. The coastal cities of Honolulu and Orlando often have high levels of humidity and rain, and are also prone to experience severe tropical storms and hurricanes.
A place known as a vacation destination won't have the same all-year residents that other, more traditional, towns and cities have, either.
"When coming to the Orlando area, it is important to determine whether you want to be near the theme parks or not," says Edward Hru, real estate broker and owner at Century 21 Roo Realty in Orlando. "It can be a very negative experience to find that you have moved into an area full of short-term rentals or part time occupants (snowbirds) when your view was more long term and in deference to your children."
There are also some benefits to visiting these highly desirable locations in the off-season, including lowered rates for both airline tickets and hotel rooms.
Ensure job availability. Many hot vacation spots have specific industries that keep their economies stable – especially tourism and hospitality. Future homeowners should research the most popular industries within a given city and consider the job opportunities that may or may not be available to them.
With a strong job market, New York City has plenty of employment opportunity available with many Fortune 500 companies and businesses. However, the city also has a low average annual income compared to the city's high cost of living – more than 50 percent of the average household income is spent on living expenses. The wide variety of jobs in the area – including finance, advertising, fashion and manufacturing – lead to a wage gap that leaves many living above their means. Be sure there are job opportunities that line up with your career goals and be sure they pay enough for you to live comfortably.
Another highly desirable location is Los Angeles, ranking No. 14 most desirable, whose job market does very well for creative professionals seeking to launch their career. The city's "creative economy" is supported by those who pursue careers in the area of art, theater, fashion and design, or entertainment. But be aware of the city's high unemployment rate, which is reported at 5.1 percent for February 2016 by to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment opportunities can be difficult to come by in Los Angeles, especially within the city's highly competitive entertainment industry.
Determine the quality of life. Many full-time residents within a location are aware of the aspects that determine everyday quality of life in that given city – from commute time to crime, education, well-being and quality and availability of healthcare.
Before moving, it's recommended that potential homeowners evaluate these aspects of a city, possibly during a short term stay or visit, in order to gauge how life would be for them.
If there is anything New York City is notorious for, high traffic congestion is one of them, especially when the city's commute was ranked as the No. 1 worst, based off scoring in our Quality of Life Index, in the United States. As a tourist, you might experience riding on the city's famous subway or in a yellow taxi during your short vacation to the city, but as a full-time resident your commute could be a bit more taxing, especially when you have to do it every day.