You’re moving to a new city – maybe it’s because you have a new job, or maybe want an adventure and to live someplace different. Whatever your motivation, it’s a big change, especially if you’re only somewhat (or not-at-all) familiar with your soon-to-be new home.
Like many endeavors, moving to a new city can seem overwhelming at first. The key is to break down the process into manageable tasks. To help, here are a few things you can do, one step at a time, to make your move smooth and stress-free:
1. Expect the process to take longer than you think
The process of finding a place to live in a new city can take longer than you expect. It would be nice if you found the ideal living space right away, but it’s rarely that simple. Even if you do find that perfect place, it may not be available when you need it, or someone else may lock it down before you have the chance. Spend as much time as you can spare to conduct research and explore your options.
2. Tap into your network of family and friends
Wherever you plan to move, it’s likely you know someone who already lives there, or at least someone who knows someone. Step one is to reach out to them. There’s no better way to get a feel for a place than from a current resident.
Set up as many conversations as you can and come prepared with a list of questions that might include: what rents are like; what traffic is like; what their impressions are of different neighborhoods; and so on.
A bonus to this approach is that you might learn about potential places to live that aren’t advertised online. And if you’re planning to live with others, networks can help you vet potential roommates and lessen the risk of living with complete strangers.
3. Research everything you can online
When looking for a place to live in a new city, the internet is a valuable research tool. Rents vary even within a city, depending on how desirable a place is to live, or how dated the place might be, or what kind of amenities it has, and so on.
Apartment and real-estate sites can help give you a basic lay of the land. If you don’t have a firm budget yet, online research will help put things into perspective and force you to make choices. For instance, the same rent in one neighborhood might get you a studio apartment – and it could mean a three-bedroom townhouse with a backyard in yet another.
So, if being in a city center matters, you might be okay with living in a small studio. But if room to spread out matters, or if you’re moving with a lot of possessions, then maybe look for places further from where the action is.
4. Narrow your list and make calls
Remember that online research is only the beginning. It should help as you narrow down potential living places and gather as much information as you can before you start digging in.
Once you’ve got a list of well-researched places to live, it’s time to contact the landlords and gather more information. It helps to have your questions prepared, and this article on 20 Revealing Questions Every Renter Should Ask is a good place to start.
These conversations should focus not only on rental costs but any other fees and policies that may not be listed on the website, regarding utilities, parking, pets, trash disposal, whether they allow cosigners, and so on. Have the landlord walk you through everything beforehand, so there are no surprises.
5. Plan a three-to-four-day visit
There’s only so much that websites and long-distance conversations can tell you about an apartment or home. So, if at all possible, take a trip to your new city in advance of your move. Based on your calls with landlords, finalize a list of potential living places and make appointments to visit them while you’re there.
When you set appointments, try not to book yourself solid. Leave some flexibility in your schedule so that if you stumble across a place that wasn’t on your list, you have time to check it out. Once on the ground, you might discover potential living places that didn’t come up in your research or that you discounted because the website wasn’t so great, but in person is more attractive.
If you absolutely can’t visit before you move to a new city, consider a short-term rental, so you can get a feel for the new place. Yes, it could mean moving twice in a short period of time, but it gives you a ‘boots on the ground’ opportunity to get a feel for where you hang out most and what your life will be like before you commit. And if you like where you end up the first time, you can probably extend your lease and stay there long-term.
6. Don’t be afraid to make a decision
No matter how much you plan, moving to a new city involves a certain amount of uncertainty. If you’ve done everything you can, and time is running out, don’t be afraid to make a decision. Remember, it won’t be the last decision you make. That said, don’t ignore your instincts. If a living situation doesn’t feel right, try not to get pushed into it, especially if it’s outside your budget or core requirements.
7. Hire movers so you have one less thing to worry about
Determining where to live in a new city takes enough effort without worrying about the move itself. Hiring professional movers is one way to reduce your stress and free up time to focus on other things.
Whether you’re relocating across one state or across the United States, JK is the long-distance mover with the teams, experience, and resources to get you there smoothly and worry-free. We employ an extensive fleet of GPS-enabled trucks and a nationwide network of trusted carriers and crews that ensures that your delivery will arrive safe and on-time.