When you’re young and unattached, it can be a valuable experience to live in different places. New locations can bring new life experiences, job opportunities, and unexpected friendships. But on the flip side, moving can be incredibly expensive and isolating
So before you make the leap and relocate to another state—or country—here are a handful of questions to ask yourself.
1. CAN I AFFORD IT?
It may sound basic, but sometimes the excitement of a move can overwhelm your financial judgment. Make sure that your total debt payments in the move—i.e. credit card payments, mortgage, student loans, etc.—don’t exceed around 36 percent of your yearly income. And it’s important to have a safety net or nest egg to fall back on during your move, as unforeseen costs and last-minute expenses can crop up.
2. DO ANY OF MY FRIENDS OR FAMILY LIVE AROUND MY NEW LOCATION?
Post-college, it can take a long time to find your footing socially in a new location. Knowing even one person can help you rebuild your network—but it takes time, and can be a lonely and isolating experience. If the thought of leaving your ten best friends in New York makes you feel queasy, it might not be the time to relocate.
3. WHAT’S THE JOB MARKET THERE LIKE—AND IS IT WORTH RELOCATING FOR MY JOB?
If your dream is to live in Los Angeles, that’s great—go! But if you don’t have a job lined up in your chosen profession, you should try to get an offer or transfer within your current company before relocating. And do your research on salary expectations for comparable positions in your new city, as management and compensation vary in different locations. Who knows? It could turn out that moving is the best thing that ever happened to your career—and your wallet.
4. WHEN’S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO MOVE?
In different cities and housing markets, rents fluctuate based on the time of year. You also want to give yourself plenty of time to apartment hunt, and you landlord’s move-in dates might not be as flexible as you’d like. Ask around and do your research online—and consider inclement weather—when you plan your move.
5. WHAT IS THE REAL ESTATE MARKET LIKE IN THE NEW LOCATION—AND WHERE ARE THE GOOD NEIGHBORHOODS?
Your rent could be $500 a month in your current city, but if you move to San Francisco, it’s a whole different ballgame. Even if you’re used to living alone in one city, you may have to get roommates in the next. Make sure you have a realistic idea of how much you’d be paying to live in your new location. And take advantage of technology and research the types of neighborhoods you’d like to live in, whether they be family-friendly or located near great nightlife.
6. WHAT WOULD MY PRIMARY MODE OF TRANSPORTATION BE?
In New York, you can use the subway, but in Los Angeles, you’ll probably be forced to buy a car. Consider public transportation costs—or the cost of registering a vehicle—before you take the plunge and move. And while everyone hates going to the DMV, it’s important to make sure you have the correct car insurance, license plates, and driver’s license in your new state.
7. IS THE CULTURE OF THE CITY A GOOD FIT FOR ME—AND COULD I ACTUALLY BE HAPPY THERE?
Different cities have different vibes, and it’s important that your new home feel like home. If you’re miserable in your current city, and hoping the new place will be better, carefully consider why you’re not happy in your current location and what about the new location seems preferable. At the very least, discover the basics, like typical leisure activities, tourist attractions, nightlife scene, and diversity of cuisine.
8. WHAT ARE MY REAL REASONS FOR MAKING THIS MOVE, AND DO THEY MAKE SENSE?
It’s important to think hard about why you’re moving, and what you stand to lose and gain. If you’re moving for your significant other, make sure your relationship is on strong and solid footing before you make the leap. If you’re moving for your career, consider whether that job is worth transplanting your life. Make solid short-term and long-term goals for the move, and decide what you want to accomplish when you’re in that new environment.
9. DO I HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN IF THINGS DON’T WORK OUT?
Sometimes, a move can be a mistake. Things happen—a relationship changes, jobs are lost, apartments fall through. So it’s important to have some money saved—or a home to return to—in case the new city doesn’t work out.
On the other hand, a move can often be an adventure—a life-affirming journey into your future. New cities and locations often bring new relationships and new opportunities, so embrace it! Whatever happens, you are guaranteed to grow and evolve.