movingWhat do you need to know about taking a house hunting trip? It doesn’t seem like there is really much to it. You book plane tickets, make a few appointments and pick out a house. Boy, were we wrong.

We were given the opportunity to move from Pensacola, Florida to Denver, Colorado and we decided to take the chance. We had lived in Pensacola for 16 years and were ready for a change. We owned our house and started to go through the steps to get it on the market. We started packing boxes and taking care of business. We had lived in our house for twelve years. It has been awhile since we had to do any house hunting and we didn’t realize how much we had to learn. There is a lot to consider when you are looking for a new place to live in a city that is new to you.

Give yourself time to explore and be prepared to make more than one trip if necessary. If you are not familiar with the city, be sure to give yourself at least a day to spend time exploring and talking to people who live there. I did not put any time for this into the schedule and I ended up needing a second trip. I didn’t have enough time to find an area to live and then a house to call home. I underestimated the size of the city and the different areas we might choose to live.

Rent or Buy. The first thing you need to consider is whether you are going to rent or buy. We chose to rent because we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to sell our house in Pensacola. We also were not very familiar with Denver. It is a significantly larger city than we are used to. We didn’t know what the commute would look like, which schools we want our children to attend and what neighborhood we wanted to live in.

Apartment, house or condo and how long do you want to live there? What are your family’s needs? Do you want something temporary while you search for your “forever” home or do you want a longer lease? I have two children who are quite rambunctious and the thought of sharing a wall with someone else who has rambunctious children of their own did not sound good to me.

What kind of research can be done before your trip? Once you have decided if you are going to rent or buy, you can begin looking for property management companies or realtors that can help. We had an awful time finding someone to help us find a suitable rental. I started our research by looking online at websites like Zillow or Trulia and then followed the trail to find property management companies that had listings we were interested in. Because we were out of state, we wanted to rent through a property manager to make sure we avoided any scams.

Start researching in advance but prepare to wait until the last minute to sign a lease. We weren’t willing to pay rent and deposits until we were ready to move. We were moving in the middle of November and while we were prepared to put down an entire month’s rent for November, we were not paying for October. This made finding a place to live in advance very difficult. Our first trip to Denver was a couple weeks to soon. Every house I found that was available wanted renters in it as soon as possible.

What should you bring with you on your trip? Even if you aren’t planning on buying a house or signing a lease during this trip, you should still be prepared in case you find that perfect place. We needed social security cards, proof of insurance, information about your loan if you are buying, and any other important paper work you might need. Another thing that we didn’t think of before jetting across the country was how we were going to pay for our deposits and first month’s rent, both of which are due when you sign the paperwork. Most places do not take personal check and we didn’t consider this. You will need a cashier’s check or cash. Luckily, there was one branch of our bank in town so we were able to race across the city to pick up a cashier’s check.

Do you have any tips for traveling for house hunting?