You want to make a permanent (or semi-permanent) move, you’ve done your research, and you think you’ve found the perfect place to live. Congratulations!
Not so fast, though. . .
Have you actually visited? Spent time there? Or are you basing your decision solely on what you’ve seen and read online or heard from others?
Until you’ve seen a place with your own eyes, heard it with your own ears, tasted, smelled, and touched it for yourself, until you’ve experienced it with all your senses, you can’t possibly know if you’d be happy living there.
Here’s a case in point:
I’ve spent many years in Central Florida. I love Winter Park. There’s something about its charming downtown area, the park with its flowers, kids playing, fountains splashing, and even trains running through that just lifts my spirits.
At one end of Park Avenue, the main shopping street of the downtown area, is Rollins College. The campus is lovely, and having the college there gives the town an energy that a similar town without a college just doesn’t have. Plus, of course, there are plays, lectures, musical performances, and other interesting events that the college makes available to the community.
It’s one of my favorite places to work. When I need a change of scene, I’ll head to one of the coffee shops with my laptop and enjoy the outdoor ambience while I write.
When we moved back to Florida and were looking for a place to live, we sadly couldn’t find anything in Winter Park that met our needs and our budget. Looking in a wider area, we found a townhouse in Deland that looked ideal. The unit was gorgeous, the neighborhood was lovely, and on paper Deland checks all the same boxes as Winter Park.
It has a solid downtown core, with Stetson University at one end of the downtown. There are plenty of shops and restaurants, as well as cultural events available at the college. In fact, Stetson’s music department (music is very important to me!) is probably better than Rollins’.
But. . . the downtown, instead of lifting my spirits, felt depressing to me. Really depressing. We didn’t buy that townhouse. (I didn’t take any pictures, either.)
The same thing happened in Panama
The same thing happened when we went to Panama the first time. We had high hopes for David – it was the first place outside of Panama City that we visited, and we chose to see it first because we thought it was our best choice.
It didn’t strike us favorably. Sure, there were attractive areas, and it has a very pretty central park. But it just didn’t feel right to us.
Contrast that with Las Tablas. Driving into the town, our eyes lit up. It was a cheerful, bustling place, and we felt good about it immediately.
On paper, David looked like a better match for our preferences and interests. We quickly discovered that it wasn’t. And that’s something we wouldn’t have known until we arrived.
Don’t Commit Without Spending Time There
This is why it’s vital to always rent before you buy! Ideally, you’ll be able to visit for an extended period of time before you make your move. In our case, we were driven by desperation. We spent four days in Las Tablas, went home, sold nearly everything we owned, and moved there. It’s not the best way to pick a place to live, but it worked well for us and we were very sorry to leave.
And it’s a much better way to pick your next location than by only reading about it and looking at pictures.