Maybe, for this time of year you want to visit the desert instead of the mountains. Or take a vacation along the coast. Or islands – like Catalina off the coast of Southern California or one of the Hawaiian Islands.
You may just decide to live there for six months and somewhere else for the other. In the mountains for skiing and snowboarding and then at the beach for surfing and sun bathing.
It may begin with a vacation to a friend’s favorite destination.
Maybe it’s someplace where you’ve never been before.
For your first time you’ll want to figure out your route and itinerary.
Usually you have a region in mind, with some ideas where you might want to visit.
You may start with a map of a region within the West or of Hawaii.
You can start saving bookmarks about potential places, to revisit later.
Or you recall a trip you took out west a few years ago.
From California to Nevada and Arizona.
Up to Colorado and back through Utah and Nevada to your return to California.
A name rings a bell when you read an article in a file saved years ago that you stumble across while cleaning up your office.
It lists the top places for retiring published by AARP – Loveland, Colorado.
You spend a little time on the Internet and discover, it’s been singled out as a great place to retire on the water.
In 2009 it was singled out as a best place to live.
You recall the fun you had hiking through the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.
What were the names of some of those other places you saw on the way?
You wonder if Loveland is right for you?
After all, US News & World Report ranked it 7th on their top 10 places to live in 2009; right ahead of San Luis Obispo, California and behind front runner Albuquerque, New Mexico, # 3 Austin, Texas and #4 Boise, Idaho.
Now you’ve got your work cut out for you. Follow these 11 steps to turn your dreams into your dream home. Let’s use Loveland as an example:
1. I recommend beginning with Wikipedia and WikiTravel for a quick summary, local history some pictures and the zip code or zip codes. You’ll see a map of the state, a subset of that map for it’s county. WikiTravel profiles vacation attractions – directions and transportation, where to stay overnight, where you should eat and play. It gives you ideas for visiting local attractions and doing more when you consider a broader vicinity. So you can plan for a long weekend or a one or more week vacation.
2. If you aren’t interested in Loveland you can stop there and consider San Luis Obispo next. Maybe, for this time of year you want to visit the desert instead of the mountains. Or take a vacation along the coast. Or islands – like Catalina off the coast of Southern California or one of the Hawaiian Islands. But, if you like lakes and rivers, then Loveland may be worth further investigation.
3. For our purposes, we are assuming that you really want to move, invest in, work in, start a business or retire in a new community that doubles as a vacation resort and with pristine quality of lifestyle activities. Otherwise, why bother?
4. So, grab the zip code and go to Google and search on the 5 digits. You’ll find a map which will show you where this destination is in relation to its surrounding area. You see photo slide shows and videos of the area. You can switch to satellite views and hybrid map views.
5. Still believe this town may be a keeper? Jump to Claritas to check out the types of people who already live in the neighborhoods. “Birds of a Feather Flock Together.” Neighborhoods change slowly. They attract the same kinds of people over time. If you plan to move, invest, work, start a business or retire, you’ll want to see if residents match your criteria.
6. We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you by identifying neighborhood characteristics by the age and stage of life of their residents. Single (20-29, 25-54, Mid-Lifers (30-44). Couple (55+ or 65+). Family (20-44, 25-54, 35-54). Empty Nests (45+ and 55+). Baby Boomers ( 55+). Seniors ( 65+).
7. And, we’ve compared neighborhoods by wealth and status and by density. From Wealthy Influentials and Wireless Resorters to High Country Eagles and Permanent Temporaries. And from Metropolitan to Suburban to Small Cities and Country Towns. So, if you want to narrow your focus to neighborhoods with 25-54 year old families in Wireless Resorts, then you can find a list that no other top 10 magazine list can provide (New Braunfels, TX and Park City, UT).
8. Let’s say you’ve compared and narrowed your search for real estate investments. Check out City-Data for in-depth demographics and regional, county and zip code statistics – including the number of registered sex offenders.
9. If you plan to move, you should search by zip code on Weather Underground to find a wealth of weather patterns including tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters for each season, but especially for January and June to determine just how inviting your new vacation resort will be. You may just decide to live there for six months and somewhere else for the other. In the mountains for skiing and snowboarding and then at the beach for surfing and sun bathing.
10. Need a job? Check the openings by zip code from two Internet sites – Indeed and Simply Hired. You’ll want to take a couple of job hunting or house hunting trips before your final decision. Make a vacation of it by returning to WikiTravel to line up the best accommodations, or visit My New Place for a listing, map and photos of rentals by zip code.
11. We know that the best positions are hidden. You find them by a chain of referrals and introductions. How do you create a new network? Use your zip code and key word description of the town in LinkedIn’s advanced search function and begin contacting the first few of 100 local introductions.