Moving west is a trendy (and not half-bad idea) for young entrepreneurs

With graduation on the horizon, you may be seriously considering relocating to a new city. Embracing a big move can be a major catalyst for personal and professional growth. Many post-grad entrepreneurs are looking at western states as top contenders for their new home and business headquarters.

According to recent studies, like United Van Lines’ 2014 National Movers Study  the majority of people moving out of state are headed westward to hotspots including Oregon (top of the list), Colorado, and Texas.

This echoes the findings of other studies from Business Insider, Forbes, and Livability.com, which show western cities consistently charting strong economic growth, affordability, and entrepreneur-friendly environments. According to Business Insider’s “Best cities for young entrepreneurs,” nine of the 10 cities listed are west of the Mississippi River. Midwestern cities, such as Madison, Wisconsin; Lincoln, Nebraska; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Denver, Colorado are all included in the Top 5. Other perennial favorites such as Seattle, Washington and Austin, Texas followed closely at sixth and seventh place, respectively.

On the flip side, it’s hard to think about finding a home in a trendy west coast locale and not be reminded of that skit from Portlandia when the rats are looking to move (if you haven’t already, you should definitely watch it here). “Remember when we moved here before gentrification?” one rat asks the others.

Gentrification, over-inflation, and rabid competition can be mind-boggling realities in these top destinations.. With the right planning, you can side-step some of these trick issues (and the headaches they induce). . Here are some things to consider when picking your new home base as an entrepreneur:

1.     Find a community and culture where you will thrive.

Work-life balance or “lifestyle amenities” is an essential theme for the millennial generation. Take some time to see whether your new environment will help you prosper mentally and physically. Whether it is a town of 11,000 or a metropolitan of 3 million, it should provide options that meet your individualized checklist of essentials (e.g., housing, groceries, recreational and social spots, local attitude, etc.). Next, you need to consider whether or not the community can support your business from a people-perspective. Will you have access to your target market where you are living? If your business is primarily mobile, can you find people to hire and collaborate with? Is the community progressive and open to new entrepreneurial ventures?

2.     Evaluate and consider access to important networks and resources.

If you plan to move far away from where you initially grew your sphere of influence, you should have a plan in place to quickly build a new network. Consider the “Six Degrees of Separation” theory. Your goal should be to find a community where you can be one to two degrees away from the people you want access to, including mentors, collaborators, peers, and influencers.

“The last few years, weve seen an increase in the number of current students and recent graduates who are starting businesses,” said Lynn Allendorf, director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa. “The successful ones tend to be willing to develop a network of experienced mentors. They also surround themselves with a community of like-minded people, supporting each other through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. Communities that are working hard to develop their entrepreneurial eco-systems are leading the way.”

3.     Take your budget and financial goals into consideration.

When finding your next landing pad, it will serve you well to evaluate the very dry (albeit very essential) budgetary factors. After making a short list of potential destinations, compare the cost-of-living index as well as the performance of the local economies (which includes per capita income and the unemployment rate). But be aware that many communities that are considered entrepreneurial hotspots (e.g., Silicon Valley) are also subject to over-inflation and soaring commercial and housing prices. This means you may have to be a bit more creative when seeking out accessible, wallet-friendly neighborhoods.

The bottom line? Moving west is not for the faint of heart and will definitely test your creativity and adaptability. However, western cities are topping lists for a reason, and are giving risk-takers something to write home about. If you’re about to hit the road, or you’ve already settled in, we want to hear about how your adventure is going! Reply in the comments below or tweet us @StarterNoise with the hashtag #westwardbound

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