Relocating For Work? Try These 7 Tips

Relocation.  It’s a common part of adult life for many: whether it’s in pursuit of a dream job, a move to study or work abroad, or going off to graduate school.

Still, it can be scary.  Regardless of how often we do it, moving rarely gets any easier.

However, the more prepared you are, the less stressful it will seem.  Here are some starter tips for a smooth transition to a new city:

1. Finances
Moving isn’t just stressful—it’s expensive.  One of the most important things to do before you go is to get your finances in order.  Make sure you’ve budgeted for a deposit on a new apartment, a couple months of expenses, and an emergency stash as you wait for those first new paychecks to come in.

Also, make sure that you’ve updated your banks, health plan, credit cards, and cell phone provider with your new billing address.  It’s easy for these things to fall through the cracks, and the next thing you know, your phone’s been turned off!

2. Old friends, new friends
10 years ago, saying good-bye to friends and colleagues when moving was hard.  Now we have Facebook, text message, Skype, and cheap cross-country airfare.  So, as hard as it is to leave your best friend behind, know that they’re just a phone call or email away.

One way to ease the pain is to set up a scheduled call with a close friend.  In a new city, knowing that you can call home every Thursday afternoon at 5:00pm will be a comfort.

3. Packing it up
As obnoxious as packing can be, this is also a great time to go through your belongings to decide what you need and what’s weighing you down.  Donate extra clothes and furniture to friends, or even better, the Salvation Army.  Go through your papers and decide what you need to keep and what to trash.

When you’ve finished sorting through everything, box it up and label—in detail.  You don’t want to show up exhausted to your new place and not know which box your sheets are in!  If you don’t have a permanent place yet in your new city, put things in storage until you do—no need to move twice.

If you have signed a long-term lease on a new place, decide whether you are going to fly or drive and whether you need to hire movers.  For a cross-country move, movers may be necessary but if you’re moving to a city only a couple hours away, consider renting a U-Haul or borrowing a friend’s car.

4. Finding an apartment
This can be tricky, especially if you don’t know the city that well or it’s particularly far away.  But this is also going to be the one place you spend most of your time.

Call around—ask friends who know the area for recommendations and read up on up-and-coming neighborhoods. Most major cities have great local magazines that frequently feature areas of their cities, like New York magazine or LA Weekly.

This is a good time to think about what’s important to you:  Do you like to go out?  If so, aim for a neighbourhood with a young demographic, with a lively bar and restaurant scene. Would you rather have a backyard or do you have a car that needs a garage, or at least space on the street?  Consider living in a quieter neighbour closer to the edge of the city, or right outside.

It’s best if you’re able to be in the city while looking for a place.  That way when you do find a great place, you’ll feel confident about your decision, knowing the city just a little bit better.  If you can, find somewhere temporary while you get your bearings.

If you need to find a permanent place right away, make sure you do it in person, or send a trusted friend in your stead.  There’s nothing worse than showing up at your new home and realising it looked much better in the pictures.

5. Getting your bearings
The first couple weeks are hard without knowing the area.  Where do I get my dry cleaning done?  How close is the nearest grocery store?  Where can I get my hair cut?  Use this time to explore your neighbourhood, and then further.

Ask questions!  There are resources everywhere: your neighbours, your doorman, the guy that checks your ID at the gym, the barista at your new coffee place.  Your new co-workers will be a great source of information as well.  Take their advice, and take notes.  Then, in a month or two, you’ll be the one with restaurant recommendations and the address of that great cobbler you use.

6. Existing network
Once you’ve settled in, reach out to your extended social network.  Look up old friends and colleagues on Facebook and LinkedIn that are living in your current city.  This is a great time (and a great excuse!) to reconnect with these contacts—and, by meeting up with them for drinks or dinner, create another chance to explore your new turf.

7. Hobbies
It might seem obvious, but join a club or sign up for a class.  You’re new in town and you don’t know anyone, so you might as well buck up and try something that you’ve always wanted to do.

Did you ever want to sing in an adult choir or take an art class, but just didn’t have time?  Is it time to improve your tennis game or train for a marathon?  Interested in volunteering? Maybe thought about a book club or wine group?

Group activities are another great way to connect with your new city, and make new friends along the way.  Find a few suggestions in After the 9-5: Education and Classes, or add your own in the comments below!


The author, Megan Halpern, is a contributing writer for Pretty Young Professional. 

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