Tips for Moving to the Midwest
Some people in the United States think of the Midwest as little more than “fly over country,” while the coasts are where the action is. While there is generally less hustle and bustle in the midsection of the country than in New York or L.A., there is plenty of appeal, even outside of big midwestern cities like Chicago.
The pandemic influenced some to reassess where to put down roots. For many, this has meant relocating to the Midwest. Newcomers are pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of job opportunities, fun, and most importantly, a market where the dream of owning a house can become a reality.
For those considering a new home in the St. Louis area or the nearby vicinity, we’ve compiled some tips and things to know about moving to the Midwest.
Polish Up Your Resume
The recent uptick in work-from-home jobs means that people can move to the Midwest and still keep their positions in companies located on the east or west coast. And having a home-base half-way between the two, in someplace like St. Louis with Lambert International Airport nearby, means convenient travel to anywhere in the country when needed.
More importantly, the Midwest acts as a hub and headquarters for numerous Fortune 500 companies. The region is also known for tech startups, large universities, and cutting edge medical facilities. Professionals of all types will find an active job market in the Midwest.
You’ll Get More For Your Money
People in the Midwest pay prices for things like groceries and appliances that are on track with the rest of the country. But a lower cost of living is easy to spot in other things. Gas prices are considerably lower, as are rent and home prices.
For example, the median home price is $260,000 in the Greater St. Louis area, and only $160,000 within the city limits. That is a bargain compared to the national median of $350,000. People who would never have a chance to buy a house in Boston, New York, or parts of California, will be thrilled to learn what they can afford in the Midwest. Not only is homeownership in reach, it can come with ample square footage, a yard, and garage—and maybe even a pool! The region offers options of all kinds: from modest city bungalows and condos, to suburban new construction, and all the way up to massive luxury estates.
There is something for everyone when it comes to housing options in the Midwest. City living is surprisingly affordable. And many parts of the region have the added advantage of how close rural areas are to city centers. Take St. Louis for example. One can drive from the Gateway Arch downtown to rolling hills and open fields in under an hour. Parts of the Metro East—an area across the Mississippi River in Illinois—boast farm houses and orchards.
Learn What to Look for in Midwest Houses
Moving to the Midwest and shopping for a house gives people a variety of types of houses with a mix of old, new, rural, and urban. It should not be difficult for a buyer to find plenty of houses that meet their particular wants and needs.
The homebuying process is not that different from anywhere else. Buyers may be surprised, however, to discover some of the concerns that face houses in the region that they may not have thought of depending on where they are from.
Basements are common in most parts of the Midwest. They were a way to add functional living space to older homes on small city lots. On larger suburban properties, “walkout” basements incorporate a lower floor into a downhill landscape while adding additional family rooms or utility space. Basements also come in handy as shelter from Midwest tornadoes which may be a new and frightening phenomenon to people from some parts of the country.
For all of their usefulness, basements can also be problematic. Cracked foundations and leaks can be expensive to repair. Homebuyers will want to make sure to learn about any issues through a home inspection.
Historic homes are prevalent in many of the communities in and around St. Louis. Some neighborhoods have restrictions about what can be done to modify houses based on their history. It is important to find out exactly what buying one of these homes entails.
Occupancy permits are required in some, but not all, towns in the Midwest. Each municipality can have different rules and fees regarding inspections, codes, and paperwork necessary before completing a home purchase. An experienced Midwest real estate agent will be well versed in all of the current requirements from town to town.
Radon is a potentially dangerous radioactive gas that is common in certain parts of the Midwest. Disclosing and mitigation of the problem is handled differently by each state. This is something that might not be well known to people from states outside the Midwest.
Mine subsidence is another concern that might be unfamiliar to a newcomer. Mining was once a widespread industry all over the Midwest and St. Louis region. Even though the mines were closed long ago, there are sometimes issues with houses built on the land. In the worst cases, foundations can shift and crack, leaving a home uninhabitable. There is a fund to cover damages in Illinois where the problem is more widespread. For residents of other states, mine subsidence can be added to most insurance policies. This is an issue and an expense that someone new to the Midwest might not have thought about.
Be Ready for Anything With Midwest Weather
Something that Midwesterners have that some parts of the country lack is a full dose of all four seasons. Gorgeous blooming trees in springtime, followed by long, pool-worthy summer days. Fall colors that rival the east coast, and a chance to cozy up by the fire on a cold, snowy night.
While all of that can be great, let’s be realistic. The summers aren’t just hot, they’re humid. The Mississippi River Valley acts as a trap for all that mugginess. People with allergies might struggle more than they used to.
Some Midwest areas get a lot of snow (think Wisconsin and Iowa) while others are more prone to ice storms (Kentucky and Southern Indiana). The St. Louis region can get both—or in some years, neither. Winter weather can wreak havoc on roads causing a lot of potholes. And those moving from warmer climates need to be aware that salt is spread on the roads to melt ice and snow. This can be very corrosive to cars, causing more wear and tear than residents might be used to. The plus side of winter? Snow days when school and work might close due to the weather. And there’s more things to do in the winter in the Midwest than most people realize, so cabin fever won’t be a problem.
Spring is primetime for rain, strong winds, and tornadoes. Certain river towns may flood—along with the basements of the homes there.
What else does all this mean for homeowners? Storms can also bring hail that may damage siding and roofs. Windy days call for good windows and insulation. And thanks to the humidity, expect to switch from air conditioning to heat with very few days of open windows in between.
While some of the weather here is bound to be different for a newcomer, Midwesterners have plenty of experience dealing with whatever the weather throws at them. But these are important things to keep in mind when shopping for a home.
Life in Fly Over Country
The Midwest might not have an ocean or mountains that compete with the Rockies, but there is a lot to enjoy here in the middle of the country. Lakes, rivers, and forests offer plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation.
There is a strong sense of community—whether it is cheering on a professional sports team or a high school’s Friday night football game. Cities and small towns have numerous festivals and parades to keep any family busy year round. And Midwest locations like St. Louis have fine dining, museums, music, and theater to rival any big city’s cultural offerings.
Some say the Midwest is known for friendliness, and we can’t help but agree. While such a broad statement might not apply to everyone in every town, it is definitely true for the real estate agents at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties. We even have relocation realtors who specialize in helping people move to the area. Our agents have the experience and knowledge to help you find the perfect home and welcome you to the Midwest!
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