|New Area Moves|
A move from L.A. to San Francisco...Manhattan to Syracuse...Houston to Austin...are all in-state moves to new worlds. How can you make a smart move to a new area?
Learning about a new area is a whole lot like learning about a nearby town. Your local bookstore or library may carry books that include history and current affairs about the new location. Or visit a bookstore or two in your new area.
Order a phonebook for your new city or ask someone for a recently outdated one. Or check your local library—some have phonebooks from different areas. Phonebooks contain umpteen scads of useful information. What should you look for? Businesses, services, shopping centers, professional offices, police stations—anything that can help you make better decisions about housing and services.
If you have kids, call the schools that your children will attend and talk with a counselor or the principal. Your first question? "Does the school have a metal detector at the door?"
Start surveying the medical and other professionals and building your new circle of reference. Where's the nearest location of Dr. Quack's Medical Emporium and Video Store?
Order a mail subscription to the local newspaper or magazine. Or find one at a newsstand or library in your area. Read about your new area, the politics, the events, the sports, the schools, and society. You can learn a lot about the people by reading the letters to the editor.
How can you find out more about your new hometown?
Of course, the best way is to interview people who are moving out! "Yeah, it's okay—if you like police helicopters circling your home at 3 a.m.!" If you can, interview long-term residents as well.
Call or write to the chamber of commerce in your destination area. Ask the office to send you a package of information about the area. The package will probably include a city map; information about the climate and living conditions; some economic statistics; information about schools, churches, local businesses, and organizations; and facts about utilities.
There's usually some good information in it, but also lots of opinion and just plain fluff. So read the facts and ignore the fancy wording. Ramsey's Rule of Advertising applies here: The more superlatives the less truth. Ask either for any information that is available or for specific information that will be helpful your family. Or ask for both.
Don't know much about your new location? Location Guides (800-846-6310; www.locationguides.com) are available for more than 200 U.S. cities and towns. The 100-page guides include local, state, and regional information and contacts.
If you or your employer hire a moving company to move your stuff to a new city, ask if they offer any relocation services. Some moving companies will provide information about the geography, climate, government, housing, utilities, education, banks, churches, newspapers, recreation, shopping, transportation, and more.
So, what's the weather like?
A couple hundred miles can make quite a difference in weather conditions. There may be more—or less—rain, snow, hail, thunder, sun, or humidity than you're used to. How can you find out what you're getting into? Don't ask the locals, because they are so used to the weekly tornadoes and record-breaking winters that they aren't objective.
The easiest way is to start watching the weather section of a national newspaper, such as USA Today, or The Weather Channel on cable. Of course, weather is what's happening today while climate is what typically happens over a period of time. For climate information, contact the National Weather Service office or the chamber of commerce where you're headed. Your new phonebook will be handy!