Sam's Home Buying Tips

Moving to a New Location: Buy or Rent?

Sam’s Home Buying Tips
January 2008

There are lots of reasons for moving to an entirely new region: a new job, getting closer to family or friends, seeking a more desirable climate, accommodating health needs, or just experiencing a new city. When this occurs, families typically face a major decision: buy right-away, or rent first? When there is no prior experience living in a new region, it is strongly recommended to rent before buying for at least the first six months, and preferably one year. This is because it takes time to recognize subtle but important nuances associated with different locations and regionally-specific factors affecting property value. Thus, rent-first is a strategy for reducing risk in your home selection process.

To execute this strategy, do as much research as possible before relocating, choose a ‘best guess’ first preference location, and then rent as close as possible to this location. If your initial instincts are good and you wind up buying close by, you will only incur a small additional expense for an extra move. If your first instinct turns out wrong, you wind up saving substantial costs involved in buying and selling. I’ve seen too many instances where friends and family purchased new homes as soon as they moved to new cities, only to accept or rationalize less than optimum choices because the cost of buying and selling was so high.

This rent-first strategy only works if you are diligent gathering data and effectively researching your location choices during the initial rental period. There are many factors you will want to research such as commutes, politics, people, schools, safety, local services, and regional design and construction preferences. For best results, actively drive through the region; talk to people, friends, and realtors; and pay attention to information from a wide variety of sources (e.g., local chamber of commerce and media). Go to “Mistake No. 1 – Not Targeting Your Search” in Sam’s Home Buying Tips for a checklist that can guide your research when moving to a new location.


The information provided on the Sam's Home Buying Tips web site and "How to Avoid 10 Biggest Mistakes Buying a New Home" guide represents the best professional judgment of the author based on 20+ years experience as an architect, 10+ years experience working with the nation's home building industry to establish more efficient building practices, and wide experience advising friends and clients on new home purchases. The information provided on this web site does not address all possible concerns involved in purchasing a new home and is not intended to guarantee that difficulties or problems won't be encountered with a new home purchase based on the advice provided.