When it comes time to PCS and buy a home, there are many agencies and industries from which to seek input and advice. Online real estate searches, Google, Trip Advisor, and checking out the sponsored installation or base website are obvious places to look for information about your new duty assignment. However, one overlooked and under-utilized resource is your local Chamber of Commerce. Below are four areas where spending a few minutes perusing and digging into your Chamber’s website may offer you focused research before you make final decisions about buying your home.
Most Chambers provide a majority of their content free and offer it publicly. They report routinely based on the local economy, workforce information, the area’s fastest-growing industries, average salary by industry, median household incomes, population, and economic growth components. How knowing this information may steer your decision on a home purchase? Consider what industries are driving growth in the new area? Where are people buying homes? Where are the best schools? This data could be helpful in picking the right neighborhood when you PCS in a few years and resell your home.
In addition to considerable valuable data, Chambers of Commerce are also a hub of community information as many offer online guides or directories. A word of caution: be sure to do your own vetting as most of these guides are advertisement-driven. Know that what you are seeing has been paid for by the companies and services represented. Regardless, the Chamber can provide a touchpoint for area banks, hospitals, service providers, outdoor recreation, attractions, annual events, child care, and education. This information can aid in piecing together an overall vibe about your community in terms of what is available to you as well as beginning input on forming community connections.
While service members arrive on the scene ready to go to work performing their assigned duties, many spouses are also trying to immediately get to work and establish themselves in a job at a new assignment thus preventing gaps in employment for both professional and financial reasons. Beyond intra-industry networking, job boards, and social sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, area Chambers of Commerce are an additional place to scout out potential local jobs. Many advertise or sponsor hiring events, and post “now hiring” job announcements for some of the areas larger industries.
Joining the Chamber
Thankfully, a majority of the information a local Chamber of Commerce offers is readily available without membership. However, there are additional benefits of joining, especially if you are an entrepreneur or small business owner and want a quick way to get your business some attention in your new city. Joining a Chamber offers a place for advocacy, civic leadership, member discounts, networking and mentorship opportunities, a voice in local legislation, an intimate view into local economic changes and trends, as well as a huge opportunity for learning.
Buying a home is one of the greatest financial decisions most people will make. By arming yourself with extra information that is both highly nuanced and specific to your area it could save you or earn you thousands of dollars in the long run. An informed buyer is a successful buyer!