Whether you’ve got your heart set on moving to the Windy City, the Big Apple is calling your name, or you’ve been offered your dream job a thousand miles from home, there are some pretty important things to think about before you relocate to a brand new city. You’ve made the decision to pack up and move, but you're not ready to step on the plane until you've checked these 10 things off your list.
1. RESEARCH THE COST OF LIVING...
It’s important to know how far a dollar stretches in your new city, so research housing, transportation, healthcare, and food prices in order to create a realistic budget. For starters, you can use a cost of living calculator like the Bankrate calculator, which lists the average prices of everything from housing to recreational activities and household supplies. But it’s also a good idea to do your own research by looking at online housing listings, gas prices, and even restaurant menus.
2. ... AND SEE HOW YOU STACK UP.
If you already have a job lined up, calculate how your new salary will affect your daily budget and your ability to save money. (If you're moving from Portland, Oregon, to New York City and your salary isn't increasing, for instance, you may need to tighten your purse strings.) If you don’t have a job yet, it’s crucial that you figure out how long your savings will last you and how long you can go before you find a job (experts recommend having a minimum of three months savings).
3. RESEARCH YOUR JOB OPPORTUNITIES...
Look into job opportunities in your new city and start applying before you move. Get a sense of the city’s major industries and what kinds of jobs are available. If you haven’t yet set a moving date, find out if there are normally more job openings during a certain time of year (since some industries hire seasonally), and make sure you have a concrete job hunt plan: What companies do you plan to target? What connections do you have? If you’re looking for retail or part-time work that’s difficult to apply for remotely, make a list of local business and pay attention to location. If all of the businesses you think sound promising seem to be in one area, look for housing in that area, too.
4. …OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR FUTURE COMPANY.
If you’re moving for a new job, do a little research on the company. Do they offer relocation benefits? Some companies will help with moving expenses or help you find housing. It’s also a good idea to learn more about corporate culture, job expectations, and work/life balance.
5. MAKE SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL CONNECTIONS.
Take stock of friends, acquaintances, and distant family in your new city. Use your alumni network and past or present work connections to find social or professional connections. Reaching out to friends of friends for a coffee or lunch date is a great way to start—and while it may sound cheesy, a simple Facebook post asking for introductions often gets the ball rolling.
6. EXPLORE THE CITY AND LEARN ABOUT ITS NEIGHBORHOODS.
If you can’t visit before you move, learn the lay of the land from afar. Before you choose a neighborhood to live in, find out what areas are residential and commercial, whether certain neighborhoods are considered dangerous, and which areas have the kinds of features you’re interested in. If you’re outdoorsy, get a sense of where the parks are; if you’re into music and nightlife, make sure you know where those venues are before you move. Websites like Yelp, City Data, and Crime Reports can help you get a sense of your new city before you move. If you are able to take a trip, try booking an Airbnb in your new location instead of staying in a hotel; you'll get a better sense of what it feels like to live there.
7. LEARN ABOUT TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS.
Decide whether you’ll be driving a car or using public transportation to get around. If you’re planning on keeping a car in the city, find out what your parking and storage options are. If you’ll be relying on public transportation, get a sense of the neighborhoods that have the best service. If possible, do a little research on which bus or train lines are considered the most reliable, and how frequently each one runs, so you don’t get stuck living somewhere with a single bus that comes once a day.
8. GET RID OF UNNECESSARY POSSESSIONS.
When we think about moving, we tend to focus on the place we’re going to more than the one we’re leaving. But there’s a ton of work to do before you leave. One way to make the move a little easier is to get rid of anything you don’t need. Have a yard sale, donate old clothes to charity, or sell things online. Symbolically, you’ll be getting rid of the old to make room for the new. But, more practically, you’ll have less stuff to schlep with you when you move.
9. MAKE A LIST OF GOALS.
Make sure you know exactly why you’re moving and what you’re hoping to achieve. It’s easy to lose focus in the chaos and excitement of setting up a new life once you actually move, so it’s a good idea to make a list of your personal and professional goals before you pack up and leave.
10. SAY GOODBYE.
Throw a goodbye party, have a get-together, or just make sure you say a proper goodbye to the important people in your life. Not only will it help you leave your old city on good terms, but it might unexpectedly reveal connections and opportunities in your new one.