Like to a new city, not on that person in the bar
Thinking about moving is a big deal, whether just across town or across the country. Maybe you are moving for a new job, or to be closer to family, or to follow your passion of skiing all year long, but no matter what, there are lots of things to consider. We've been there, and know how overwhelming and exciting it can be. Sure, factors like which state has the best avocado toast, or the best weather, or most affordable cost of living are important, but what about water quality or state parks? We get that you can't take every single minute detail into account, but we do have some suggestions of things to think about that can have a pretty big impact on your health. These count as quality of life factors, too you know.
1. Air Quality
This one makes sense, but unless you are moving somewhere like Beijing or even LA, people don't often talk about it. Air quality matters for everyone, but especially for people who have asthma and allergies and children. Poor air quality days make it difficult to spend time outside and can make the time spent outside less enjoyable. Researchers have also recently found that if women who are pregnant are in areas with lots of air pollution they have a higher risk of their baby having a birth defect. Even if you aren't pregnant or thinking about having a baby any time soon, air pollution can cause problems like asthma, heart attack and cancer. So, if you have some top choices of where to live, look up the air quality in those cities and see if one might be better for you than another. This map produced by the EPA lets you compare counties based on different health considerations that apply to you.
2. Water Quality
We have all heard about what happened in Flint, so you know that water quality can have a huge impact on your health. Some states have different regulations, and some are better at treating the water than others. In some cases, it's more about where the water comes from initially. No matter what, it's worth taking a peek and seeing if getting a water filter will be enough to protect you once you find your new home. The Environmental Working Group put together a good map and database of water contaminants by zip code and has a way to look up what kind of water filter is best for the type of water there.
3. Industry in the Area
Related to both water and air quality, knowing what industry is common in the area is also something to consider in terms of how where you are looking to live can impact your health. Is that area big on farming, and do those farms use lots of pesticides that could end up affecting you? What is the area's stance on fracking? Is there a factory nearby that produces chemicals or has large smokestacks that affect the air? It's also important to know if any of these industries used to be there, which you might be able to tell based on if there are superfund sites in the area. All of these can impact your life even if you aren't working in those factories.
Walkability is all about how easy it is to get to places near where you live. Is there a grocery store within walking distance? What about a pet store or post office? Walk Score is a company that produces a walkability score for neighborhoods that takes into account these answers, as well as block length and intersection density. Basically, there are some pretty powerful mathematical analyses going on to determine how easy it is to walk to get what you need. There are also scores similar for access to public transit and how bike-friendly the neighborhood is. By living in an area that is easier to get around on foot, it means you will be walking more often and getting outside, which many professionals agree is good for you no matter how you cut it. You can check out zip codes and even find apartment listings in different cities based on these scores.
5. Neighborhood Resources
Similar to walkability, this looks at what's available in the neighborhood in terms of things that make you happy and your life better. Do you want to live near a park or running path? Maybe you are interested in the arts and prioritize that your city to have interesting museums and concerts. Or, what about different ethnic options, like grocery stores with ingredients from around the world or a German restaurant because you grew up with your grandmother making schnitzel every week, and you want to be able to find that. This is where some personal research comes in handy. You know what sort of things are important to you and make a town feel like home, don't forget to make those a priority when searching for the right place.
If you want to look up a bunch of these consideration at once, check out HomeFacts. You can type in an address or a city and it will tell you about air quality, superfund sites, radon, in addition to things like schools, crime rates, and fire stations.