It is highly likely for those living in Summit or the towns nearby that you either know someone who has relocated as part of their job or you have experienced the relocation process yourself.

According to a survey conducted by Allied Van Lines, of 1,000 people surveyed the following challenges were found to be the most prevalent during the relocation process:

  • Acclimating to a new community – 33.9% 

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  • Finding a new home - 33.1% 

  • Making new friends - 15.9% 

  • Establishing new services, from utilities to library cards and new family doctors and dentists – 10.1%

  • Changes in climate and new school registration – 7%  

Having relocated myself I can relate to all of the above, although not necessarily in the same order.  Over the next several weeks I will be writing about the relocation experience and steps to navigate through these challenges.  

In 2016 I was thrown into the turmoil known as corporate relocation.  The timing of a relocation may never be ideal. Making the decision to move may be easy, but the steps that follow are not so simple.  The first step is to identify the cities or towns to target. For those of you that may not be familiar with the area you are moving to this can be overwhelming.  To get yourself started you must first determine the factors that are critical to making your move successful for you for the long term. Top priorities that are common when choosing a town include proximity to work, price, school ratings and community and youth extracurricular activities.  

Finding a New Home – What Cities/Towns are Right for Me?

Step 1 – Proximity to Work

More often than not both individuals and families experience stress due to work / life balance or lack thereof.  In an attempt to alleviate some stress, most find it important that a new home location be close to their workplace.  Before starting your search, it is important to identify your tolerance for your daily commute, either by distance or time.  I would recommend researching traffic patterns or enlisting the help of someone who is familiar with local or highway travel.  I am a strong supporter of online navigation tools; however, these will not be able to provide the daily intricacies of experienced daily commuters.  You should also determine your need for public transportation and associated amenities required (i.e., direct train line to NYC, buses, daily parking, etc.).  These criteria will help you to narrow down your search to a point that you can start assessing towns in regards to inventory and price, education and community activities.    

Step 2 – Inventory and Price

According to a 2018 National Association of Realtors 2018 report, 44 percent of homebuyers started their home search online.  It also states that “online searching maximizes the ability to compare and contrast homes on the market by selected features. Most of this is done before a potential home buyer connects with a real estate agent.” Based on experience I can say that this also holds true when looking for rental properties.  In most cases the longevity of a relocation is uncertain leaving many to opt for the rental route; at least for a shorter term. Gaining exposure to the real estate market in the town (s) you are targeting is a great first step to expanding your knowledge on the properties available and the prices you should expect.   

With that being said, online searches cannot analyze your needs and identify the property that best fits your lifestyle.  This requires knowledge of the town, neighborhoods, facilities and community activities to name a few. This is where the use of a local agent can be instrumental.  Not only do they know the culture of the towns, but they often times have information on future listings and homes for sale that may also be available for rent. In a desirable market, having this information before it hits the mainstream can be the difference between getting a property and missing out on an opportunity.  There is nothing worse than searching online only to find there is no inventory available at your price point. Be advised that this may not be the case.      

Step 3 - Education

For those who are relocating with school age children, the quality of the schools they will attend will most likely be of importance to you.  When moving to New Jersey my research started with the public schools. When accessing information on the Internet be careful what you choose to read as you can get overwhelmed.  I would recommend starting with the State of New Jersey Department of Education website. This site provides a vast amount of factual information associated with test scores by school (https://rc.doe.state.nj.us), state assessment reports, staff evaluations and school financial information.  

While a school’s overall academic performance is essential to most, there are other factors that may also be of importance to you.  For instance, after school programs, walkability and busing, diversification, and sports to name a few. One site that may be helpful is Niche.com.  While this site provides information that may seem more subjective when comparing schools, it does give insight into how each school performs in areas such as academics, teacher rankings, clubs & activities, sports and diversity.  This site also provides school reviews from both parents and students. I find the opinions of individuals with first hand experiences are always enlightening.  

Step 4 – Community and Youth Activities 

Finally, for family relocations, access to community activities and youth recreational or travel sports will most likely be of interest.  Finding the right activity and/or organization that aligns closely with you and your children’s personalities and family values may be tricky.  However, it is often true that finding the right fit can prove to be imperative to the long-term success of your family’s move. Once you have worked your way across steps 1 through 3 above you should have a short list of potential areas you would like to land.  If you are working with a realtor this is a good time to gather information on the various clubs, sports or facilities that align with your interests. This helps to avoid the constant website searches that in most cases won’t be able to provide the insight that you need to find the right fit for you or your family.  In most cases, a realtor may also be able to connect you with one or more local families that are involved in activities similar to those you are searching for.    

For those who use social media, I would suggest performing a search on local community groups in the towns you are targeting.  For instance, some local communities create Facebook groups that provide information across topics, such as town events, schools, sports and businesses.  These groups give newcomers the opportunity to ask questions and obtain feedback directly from people in the community. Having a mechanism that allows you to engage with neighbors early on can allow for a quicker and easier adjustment to your new home and community.       

Moving is stressful, but moving for a corporate relocation can enhance stress due to undesirable change and short turn-around times.  The location and property that you move to can have a direct impact on your happiness and success. Identifying and researching the factors that are most important to you and soliciting the help of those knowledgeable in your desired location can lead you on the right path to a positive outcome.

Kerrin Sears is a sales associate at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, which offers a team of more than 625 licensed professionals and staff working out of 13 offices throughout Northern and Central New Jersey. Regional Offices are located in Summit, Short Hills, Alpine, Edgewater, Englewood Cliffs, Franklin Lakes, Hoboken, Montclair, Montville, Ridgewood, Saddle River, Tenafly and Westfield.

For more information about Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, visit prominentproperties.com or call the Summit regional office at 908-273-8808 or stop by at 309 Springfield Avenue.