Try The Drive

Many years ago, when a company in Boston was interviewing me, I got lost driving.  Deliberately.

My reason was not any form of masochism – I was considering a relocation to Boston.  If you're going to move to an area, one of the ways to get familiar with it, intimately familiar with it is to drive through it if at all possible.

Driving through a potential relocation site tells you a lot of things:

  • It gives you an idea of what traffic is like, which may be important if you'll be commuting a lot.
  • It gives you an idea of what the drivers are like – which may not match their personalities outside of the cars.
  • It lets you see the sites that matter to you – bookstores and game stores, restaurantsrestaurants and shopping malls, etc.  You'll see things as you wander about, and you can even stop to check them out.  I felt much better about a potential relocation to Boston when I passed some bookstores.
  • It lets you see what road upkeep is like.  Recently when driving in Toronto, I ran smack into several areas of road construction, and a friend who lived in the area filled me on road construction in Toronto and local issues.
  • It gives you an idea of just how roadways work – and they are not the same from city to city by any stretch of the imagination.  Boston just redid their roads with the Big Dig, while the SF Bay Area still has an organic feel (and all that entails), and Toronto's roadways use "collectors" to help direct specific traffic flows.
  • It also gives you an idea that, all things aside, if driving is such a pain that you'd want to use public transport (which you then want to research).

A good drive in one of the spots you may want to move to can tell you a lot.  Next convention, next time you fly out for an interview, or even if you go out to scout a location, give it a try.  You'll learn a lot.

– Steven Savage