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Home may be where the heart is, but how do you know what your heart wants? From cost of living to amenities and demographics, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right place to live. Collectively there are some factors, like family stability, economic security and physical and financial health, that can make a community one of the overall happiest places in America. But while residents of the U.S. enjoy one of the highest qualities of life in the world, every American has their own specific combination of factors that will make them happy with their home. Take a look at some of the important livability issues below and think about how important they are to you so you can pick a place that gives you the highest chance for satisfaction.

The Big One: Money

One of the first factors for finding a place to live is job availability. (Even if you are retired, you may want to be where the economy is healthy.) Most people haven’t inherited a fortune or won the lottery, so cities and communities are often judged based on access to job opportunities. Some places are even job centers for a specific industry.

Around the same level of importance, a happy home has access to education — whether that be a university or good public school system for children. You also likely want a home with neighborhoods and houses you can actually afford based on the salary you will likely be paid. Some places have notoriously high home prices and mortgage payments — so it’s important to do thorough research before settling somewhere without the right living arrangement for you. If you’re planning to buy a new home, keep in mind that your credit score will have a major impact on affordability. You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.

Finally, home and mortgage price aren’t the only thing that go into cost of living. The cost of groceries, average utility bills, transportation, medical care, taxes and recreation are among the factors that affect how much it costs to live in a given location.

Health & Safety

For most people, feeling safe is essential to overall happiness. If you don’t feel comfortable being alone in your neighborhood, going outdoors at night or letting their kids play outside, it could be a big motivator to move elsewhere.

Climate also can affect where people want to live — some people want to avoid colder temperatures or high humidity, for example. This can also be a factor if you have certain health conditions that do better in specific climates.

A quick search on updated map software can give you a good idea if a location you are thinking of living in has healthcare access and good hospitals nearby. A step further, people are often happiest when they have access to leisure activities, and a transportation system to access nearby amenities.

People

People matter. For many people, proximity to friends and loved ones can have a big impact on your happiness. Whether you want to be next door to your parents and siblings, a few hours’ drive away or on the other coast, this distance can affect your happiness. Also, if you are raising a family, you may want a neighborhood with other children for yours to play with.

Now that you know many of the factors that will go into your housing decision, you can determine what is most important to you and do some research. Are you happy where you are? Is there a new city, town, neighborhood, or even country that would suit your needs and wants better?

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