How to Plan a Long-Distance House Hunt and Find Your Dream Home in a New City


A long-distance house hunt is not an ideal situation to buy a property. It’s stressful, risky and frightening. However, oftentimes, it’s the only choice thanks to the unforeseen life circumstances and aggressive selling markets. So, if you need to find a good property across the state, here are a few practical things you can do which will help you find a home of your dreams in a new city.

Find a realtor who is up to the task

Not every realtor wants to work with a remote client and those that want might not know how! So, it’s really crucial to find a real estate agent who’s both willing and able to work with someone like you. The key to finding the right person for the job is technological literacy—a lot of things can be done over Face Time and other similar apps, so make sure your realtor knows how to use them. Additionally, you want someone who completely understands your wants and needs, because in most cases, your agent will be viewing homes without you. While other clients can see things up close, you can only see it on your phone screen, so you need to trust your agent when they say a house is not a good fit for you.

Know the location

This is a tricky one and will ideally involve a small trip to the city you’re planning to move to. However, your trip will not be about your house, but about the neighborhood you want to live in. A small visit to your new location will allow you to narrow down the areas that fit your tastes, your budget and your lifestyle. While describing a house is possible, it’s very hard for your realtor to describe a neighborhood, its atmosphere and the reasons why it’s right or wrong for you—you have to see it for yourself!

Decide on your (realistic) budget

As you search for your ideal home and examine offers in your new city, soon you’ll get a pretty decent idea of the market. This will allow you to assess the costs of real estate, but also consider the general costs of living compared to your old home. When you know how much money you need for bills, gas, groceries, childcare and public transport, it will be much easier to form your buying budget. It’s very important to be realistic about what your budget can afford you in your new city.

Hire movers

Usually, there’s really no time to stretch out your move when buying a house remotely, so you need to have your movers ready to tackle your task. While classic movers are always a good choice, long-distance moves like yours might be asking for something a little more special: shipping containers. In addition to being more affordable than regular movers, practical shipping container transport gives you much more freedom and flexibility to pack and unpack. The process goes like this: you get your container, move your things into it (at your own pace), order relocation, unpack your things at your new location (at your own pace)—everything is super practical and stress-free! Plus, your containers can also serve as storage until you find your ideal home.

Separate your wants from your needs

Make sure you understand that what you want isn’t always what you need and vice versa. You might need a large kitchen for family meal prep, but you might want a spacious yard for entertaining and outdoorsy fun with kids and friends. Separate these priorities into two piles and provide them to your agent. This will allow both you and your realtor to locate your future home.

If you’re not sure, rent!

Sure, renting is a huge waste of money in this situation, but it also gives you great opportunities. Let’s say a house you like is too cheap or too good which are often some of the most common red flags. Rent it and see how it goes! Renting also gives you a chance to be close to other offers and the freedom to go check them out whenever you want. If renting is an option, make sure to consider it well before you say no!

With a plan like this, you’ll certainly find a property that satisfies both your wants and your needs and you’ll be able to move and continue your life without too much stress!

By Mike Johnston

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