As they say real estate is about 3 things: location, location, location. Finding the perfect city, town, or village to live can be difficult especially if you have a family to take care after. If you are still midst-career and not looking to retire you probably want to live close to work (maybe not too close) , family, and to what is important for you to live in town.
The first tip is simple, you can use sites such as city-data.com to find out more about the area. City websites with a .gov domain can provide a lot of insight, but don’t forget to do a simple google search or look at the Wikipedia page of that place when they are available. You can find out just about anything these days: population, school systems, cost of the average house, and even average city income of the residents. Most of this information is available thanks to the census of course, so this is a great time to do research as the information was last collected in 2010 as part of a 10 year cycle.
Google maps has a great feature called my places. Other maps offer similar features if you prefer another, but essentially what you do is create your own map. There is a link to take an interactive tour underneath the big red create map button if you need help. It is a very well made tour. After all of your important locations are marked and labeled you can zoom out a bit and see all of the locations clearly. There are certain exceptions such as highway access, but somewhere in the middle is generally a good place to start looking. Combine this with the town information you can find and suddenly you are well on your way to being an expert on the area. You can even generate driving directions and estimates to and from each location. This is great news of course, because the more you know, the better your decision will be.