This is part one of a three part series on Moving to a New City. My goal is to research potential cities based on specific characteristics, narrow down my search to five possible places based on how well they match my requirements, and finally visit each city.

I’m a couple of years away from moving from my current locale to a new city, but that gives me plenty of time to research potential places. Of course I’m looking for specific attributes within that new city, so the question is where to begin? The first task is to create a list of things I’d want my new city to look like. Narrowing down ‘must-have’ attributes will focus my research on cities that fulfill these requirements, saving me time in the long run. What’s most important to me when looking at new cities is location, weather and cost of living. I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to weather having lived in a temperate climate most of my live. My body just can’t handle temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.Β  Below I’ve listed ‘must haves’ for each attribute.


I’m not willing to move out of state (at least not yet). Thankfully California is a very large state so I’m not terribly limited geographically. I’d also like to remain living somewhere along the coast, or at least within a 35 mile range. Of course this reduces my chances of finding a reasonably priced city.


When the weather drops to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I shiver no matter how many layers I have on. The thought of shoveling snow makes me cringe and anywhere where the temperatures hit over 100 degrees for extended periods of time just isn’t my ideal place. Since I’m such a weather-wimp, this limits cities located in the desert or in the mountains. It also limits how far north I’m willing to move. However, I’m not enthusiastic about living in a city where the temperatures hover around 70 degrees all year round. I do like having warmer days here and there, so places like Oxnard are a bit too cool for my blood.

Cost of living

One of the biggest challenges I have due to limiting my search within California is finding a “perfect” city with an affordable cost of living index. I like to use to compare cost of living. The national average has a numeric value of 100; cities higher than 100 are more expensive, cities lower than 100 are less expensive. I currently live in a city where the cost of living is 135. I’d like to find a city where this numerical value is below 130. This has been my biggest challenge as most of the cities that are within 35-miles of the coast are actually pushing 150, much too high for me to justify a move.


I’ll be finishing my teaching credential in December (6-months sooner than planned!), yet there are few teaching jobs due to the state budget deficit. I’ve noticed that teaching jobs are more abundant, though I wouldn’t necessarily use this adjective to describe the amount of jobs overall, in Northern California than in Southern California. The potential for a teaching job in the north may guide my city search to cities in the Sacramento – San Francisco area.


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to takeΒ  notice of crime statistics in my neighborhood. assigns a numerical value to both violent crime and property crime. The national average is 4 in both categories, but in my city it is 7 and 4 respectively. I’d like to find a city where the crime rate hovers around the national average or at least lower than my current city. I’m hoping that a lower crime rate means less graffiti in the neighborhood because, frankly, I’m really tired of graffiti!

I’ve included a little YouTube video from a lovely (note my sarcasm here) city not far fromΒ  my home. You’ll soon know why I am itching to move!


  1. I’ve lived in a cold climate my whole life (with the exception of 8 months in Charlotte, NC which was awesome). I suppose it’s good that I don’t have that perspective because it’s sure harder to go from colder to warmer than warmer to colder.

    I think the perfect place is somewhere that had mountains, oceans and big cities within driving distance. That pretty much limits you to the northeast and the West Coast, or overseas.

  2. @First Gen American
    I guess it would be different if I grew up in a cold climate; I wouldn’t be such a weather wimp! That being said, I agree that living close by the mountains, coast and city is ideal. I pretty much live that way now, but our valley has become much too crowded and over run with graffiti. I’m looking for a slightly less populated area. Wish me luck!

  3. How exciting. I can’t wait to move out of our current area (with a crime rate of 5) to the city my family lives in (with a crime rate of 3). Thanks for the reference. I had not heard of it before. I think Northern California would be a beautiful, peaceful place to live. I would just worry about the earthquakes πŸ™‚

    • @Melissa – Living in Southern California I’ve experienced my share of earthquakes (like the ’94 Northridge one!) so that doesn’t really make a difference in where I move. Though my move is still in the future, I love researching the possibilities!

  4. Having the freedom to move anywhere, how exciting!

    Like Sandy, I have lived in a cold climate my whole life. However, I am getting really sick of it.

    My ideal locale would be near the ocean, warm but not humid and safe. Probably reduces the odds it is affordable though.

    Keep us updated!

    • @Everyday Tips – Since I don’t own a home, my husband works out of our home, and teaching jobs are few and far between, moving is an options for us at this point in our lives. I’m excited to start the research (I’ve already found some cities I want to visit) and will be sharing these city details in the future. πŸ˜‰

  5. For me the bottom line is being happy! I could be unhappy on the beach and happy in the middle of a city. My list would be skewed to my working life, then the geographical location. There is plenty here, I live in Los Angeles and love it.

    • @Krantcents – I don’t like to knock the city I live in. For a while, I was really interested in the history of the San Fernando Valley; it’s filled with interesting events and people. But I just can’t stand the graffiti anymore. And with jobs in LAUSD looking bleaker by the year, my possibilities of obtaining a full time teaching job are slim when I finish my credential this year. I’m going to have to start looking elsewhere and these are just some things I’d like my new city to look like. As for LA, there are still plenty of reasons to love it (I even remember the ’80’s song I love LA)

  6. retirebyforty Reply

    That Canoga Park video is AWESOME!

    Oh man, you have a search cut out for you. Good luck! You might have to move to central coast to find a place with lower cost of living. I went to school in Santa Barbara and it’s my favorite place in the world, but I can’t afford to live there. I don’t think there are many jobs either.

    • @Retireby40 – Yes the Canoga Park video is hilarious. Obviously they focused on the crummy parts of the city (there are a few cute areas too), but these are some of the reasons I want to move! I love Santa Barbara too, but it’s just too pricey for me. I’ll be listing my potential cities soon, and Ojai is one of them (not far from SB but a little less expensive.)

  7. @IPA – Atascadero is on my list of possibilities! I’m okay with it getting hot in the summer (it can get into the upper 90’s where I currently live and has even hit 100+). I’ll have to check out Pismo Beach, though I’m a little worried about the cost of living there. Thanks for sharing those possible cities, I’ll check into them! πŸ˜‰

  8. Amanda L Grossman Reply

    I’d love to visit California one day! It seems like such a wonderful place, but I must admit, the economy there completely scares me off.

    I am from Pennsylvania and moved to first Florida, and then to Texas (currently). I do enjoy the warmer climate–in fact thinking back to six a.m. winter weather, having to defrost the car and warm up the engine is pretty Bleh to me right now!

    • @Amanda – California’s economy has always been a boom/bust one. (Just look at the Gold Rush of 1849! Many boom towns went bust within a short period of time.) Though it is a beautiful state and the weather is phenomenal, I guess it’s the price I pay to live here. πŸ˜‰

  9. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog Reply

    Good luck with the moving. I was facing the same problem when I finished my masters, and my girlfriend is great because she teaches and can basically find a job anywhere. Before we started looking for new employment, we created a list of things that we wanted in a new city, much like you did. Unfortunately, things didnt quite work out the way that they were scripted, but they are falling into place now.
    Good luck finding a job in california and selecting a new home!

    • @Jeff – Thanks for that encouragement! Also, congrats on your new job and the fact that you can walk to it now – that’s awesome. πŸ˜‰

  10. Well Heeled Blog Reply

    I’m with you – I love California and both my bf and I have our immediate families here. But the cost of living is high indeed. Still, it’s not higher than NYC, so at least there’s that. Plus we have the gorgeous weather and sunshine. I truly believe that if I were to be in a cold climate permanently I would be a very unhappy person. Have you thought about San Diego? Perfect weather, cheaper than LA or SF, and very laid-back folks.

    • @Well Heeled Blog – It’s funny you mention SD. We visited SD last summer, but found that it was too laid back for us. We need a little bit more speed in a city, a factor I’ll have to include when looking for a new city. But yes, I guess we can say we’re not quite as expensive as NYC. πŸ˜‰ I guess that’s one positive.

  11. Squirrelers Reply

    I have to say, living in Chicago and reading the California view, I chuckle at the weather comments:) A 50 degree day would make everyone so happy here in January and February – and that’s for a high! Of course, I do have family in California (SF area) who I visit frequently, so I understand how one can get used to the weather/outdoors benefits there. People who live in California don’t seem to want to leave, unless cost of living drives them away. If you have money, it’s a great place to be – I love visiting there.

    Anyway, your list of considerations makes sense to me – and you’re probably covering the important ones. Key is to think about where you’ll be truly happy. One additional aspect to consider is the local culture – will it be your style, can you fit in long term, etc.

    • @Squirrelers – I know, our weather is fantastic and it makes it really hard to think about moving some place else, especially some place colder! But I think I can find a city that is less expensive than where I live and still benefit from the weather if I really focus on what I want that city to look like. Now if only I can find a teaching job in that county, hmmmm until the CA budget improves, I think my chances will be slim!

  12. Good luck at finding something you like. πŸ™‚ I can’t say anything about you being a weather wimp. I grew up in upstate NY but after 9 years in Texas I can’t imagine shoveling multiple snowstorms again. My parents live in NC, so I can think of nothing in the world that would get me to move someplace cold again.

    • @Jennifer Barry – I’ve never lived in a cold climate, so I can’t even imagine shoveling snow or scraping ice off my car. Though my husband has, and he cringes when he sees snow on television. He won’t ever live in a cold and snowy climate ever again.

  13. Love this series. Looking forward to following you on your journey to a new life in a new city!

    BF and I are considering a move to LA or Chicago, IF I can ever get a job interview (we currently live in the Midwest)! I’d like to see some of your thoughts on how best to apply for jobs in another city.

    • @Bonnie -I’d just say be aggressive and be clear that you’re willing to come out for an interview if they are seriously interested in you. Tell them up front that you would like to move to that area and state specific positive reasons why. (Everyone loves hearing positive things about their city.) Of course I’d be leaning towards LA due to the gorgeous weather, but I’ll be honest and say that LA was hit hard in this recession. Be sure to keep your resume concise and state your qualifications. Good luck to you as well!

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