If you’re considering moving to a major city, maybe to pursue career opportunities, or for a change of scenery, you’ll want to be well prepared to make the big transition. Here are some questions to ask yourself beforehand to make sure it’s the right decision for you:
How easy will it be to find a job?
If you aren’t relocating for a job, do some research to see what kind of work opportunities exist in your potential new stomping grounds. You’ll also want to look at the rate of unemployment in the area. A good place to start are job sites and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even if you are relocating for a specific job, if you end up losing that job, are there other companies in the area that you could potentially work for?
“First, look at the employment situation, culture, cost of living, and sales and income tax of your new city,” suggests Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt, who recently moved from Portland to L.A. to be closer to her family and to take advantage of the job opportunities a bigger city offers. “You may be moving to a new city for one specific reason, but ignoring all the other things could affect your lifestyle and finances.”
What will be the difference in the cost of living?
You may be getting by comfortably by the amount you currently make, but how much would it cost to rent an apartment that’s roughly the same size with similar amenities to your current living situation? Budget accordingly and make adjustments to account for any discrepancies beforehand so that you’re prepared.
Zina Kumok of Debt Free After Three, who moved from Indiana to Denver, Colo., recommends doing plenty of research beforehand. “Talk to as many people as possible, read forums, check out the local magazine,” Kumok says. “You want to get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into.”
Does the culture “vibe” with my interests and values?
Make sure the city you’re moving to jives well with you who currently are, and who you ultimately want to be. For example, if you’re currently an urban dweller who craves spending more time in the outdoors, will the place you move to have access to nature? Or if you’re a huge art lover, does the city have a bustling arts and culture scene? Stephanie Halligan of Art to Self moved to Boulder, Color., because she was looking for a place that better reflected who she was. “I was looking for a place that was more ‘me,’” she explains, “where the people, the culture, and the environment reflected my values.”
To test out the waters, Halligan recommends staying at least one week in the place you’re thinking of moving to. “Get a feel for the area—where you would buy groceries, what your routine would feel like,” she suggests. “If you can test out life in a new place first, you’ll know if it’s a good fit to move there.”
Do I have enough savings to tide me over?
Besides money to pay the movers and put down a deposit on a new place, you’ll also need some funds socked away to tide you over as you get settled. This is especially important if you don’t have a job lined up. Kumok suggests having at least six months of living expenses saved up. “Moving is expensive and who wants to be broke when you’ve just moved to a new city?” Kumok says.
You can kill two birds with one stone by selling or donating items you no longer need, suggests Eric Rosenberg of Personal Profitability, who is planning to move with his family from Portland to Southern California. “This will put a little extra cash in your pocket and lower your moving costs, which are charged by the pound if you are using a major moving company,” Rosenberg explains.
If you’re moving for a job relocation, check with your future employer to get the full details of your relocation package. Will they be paying for all of your relocation fees, or just part of it? Will they give you the money to relocate up front, or will you get reimbursed after the move?
To make sure you have a handle on your expenses, if you’re a member of a credit union, visit your local branch to see what resources are available to you for your upcoming move. And because of shared branching, you might be able to get in touch with a branch in your potential new stomping grounds.
What are the cons of living there?
Lockert recommends asking yourself this question, as it’s important to know what the downsides are of the place you’ll be moving to. Make sure you are fully aware of the cons, and that you’re okay with it. While there is no true formula to figuring this out, try sitting down and writing a list of both the pros and cons, and determine if the pros outweigh the cons.
While moving to another city is a huge change, by doing a little bit of planning and asking yourself some important questions, you’ll be well prepared to make the big move. Have fun and good luck!