So you want to move somewhere completely new where you don’t have any connections?
Well, there’s a wrong way and a right way to fulfill your desire of moving somewhere else alone. Below, we break down what you need to know before you go, and why.
Moving to a New City or State? Consider These Things First
The last thing you need is to be afraid or caught off-guard by unexpected challenges. Before you load up a moving truck with everything you own, make sure you investigate the aspects that could majorly impact your life in a brand-new city.
If You’ve Never Lived There
Desiring to relocate elsewhere and start over can seem thrilling. But if you’ve never lived there, haven’t even visited, or if you have no family/friends waiting, picturing your new life can conjure dreamy illusions not based in reality.
To know the real deal, you’ll need to look into things like:
- Influential cultures/subcultures, politics, or policies. It may not be obvious now, but the general pace, attitudes, and demographics of a new place will have a tremendous impact on your longterm happiness. Plenty of people who are used to a way of life may find it hard to adjust to something new. Whatever preconceived notion you had of the place you want to move to, your new discoveries about it may be super interesting or extremely off-putting.
- Climate, weather, and seasonality. This is crucial if you hate certain weather extremes. Note: climate is general and is defined as “the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long time period.” For example, Texas is known for its scorching, humid summers, heavy and sometimes dangerous rainfall, and lack of four distinct seasons. (Unless you count allergy season by itself). People with a strong preference for mild or colder climates or individuals with medical conditions triggered by heat definitely shouldn’t move here on a whim! The same logic applies if you have severe respiratory disease and are considering a city with heavy air pollution.
- Check transportation routes. When you’re looking for a place to live, transportation is a key factor in getting to a job or important services. No matter if you’re house- or apartment-hunting if you plan on commuting, use Google Maps or Quora to find out where the major traffic areas, interstates, highways, or public transportation routes are. While you’re at it, see what’s nearby in terms of grocery stores, hospitals, urgent care clinics, shopping centers, public facilities, or entertainment.
If You Don’t Already Have a Job
Not having a job lined up wherever you plan to relocate can make things more difficult, but it’s certainly not an automatic failure.
If you’re trying to land a gig in your new locale, do this before you move:
- Check out the local job market. Depending on where you live, some industries have a stronger presence than others. It’s up to you to find out which fields, occupations, and skills are more in-demand in the new place you want to move. Roles for a marine biologist or scuba instructor may not exactly be abundant if you want to move to a landlocked city or state with no coastline or beach.
- Build your network online. What skills do you need to work on to get the job you want? Of course, you’ll need to polish your professional presence—resumes, curriculum vitae, portfolios and such. Get copies of any transcripts, diplomas, or certificates before you move. Then, the hustle begins: Join professional groups or meetups (Facebook is fantastic for this), establish yourself on LinkedIn and post regularly while reaching out to former colleagues, professional acquaintances, and new connections. This will help increase your online visibility to recruiters and employers needing to fill a role. Research job opportunities and apply online directly with the company you’re checking out. Ask anyone you know who lives there to keep an eye out for roles that fit your skillset. It will also help you help others who are looking for new opportunities you come across but don’t want; they will likely appreciate it and return the favor when necessary. Check into larger employers or startups based there because they’ll often have more roles to fill.
- Gain a new skill or trade. Trade schools, internet-based certifications, and online courses from colleges and universities have made it easier than ever to develop an existing competency or gain a new skill. If you don’t already have a job, focus on one of these methods to get the background knowledge for a new role in your new place of residence. Also, consider getting a role in the gig economy to make ends meet temporarily.
If You Have Pets or Children
Ok, so you’re not exactly alone if you’re bringing pets or kids along to a different city or state… However, if you’re alone, then you’re definitely the breadwinner.
Here are some super important things that parents and pet owners should look into before moving somewhere unfamiliar:
- For pet parents: Check your residential pet policy. It’s more than just paying pet rent. Some homeowner’s associations (HOAs), many home insurance companies, apartment complexes, and even cities/counties have policies that ban certain animals, plus specific dog breeds and mixes. Although there is much controversy over these breed restrictions, certain entities like apartment complexes and rentals, reserve the right to enforce any lease bans on what they deem “aggressive breeds.” Even if you don’t have an aggressive breed as outlined in the contract, another neighbor could. If the thought of it makes you uneasy, it should. Terms of the other tenant’s lease are only known and enforceable by the landlord. So, it’s at his/her discretion to give them the boot. Homeowner’s insurance companies often have long, arbitrary dog blacklists, too. If your pup is considered a restricted breed or has a history of biting, you often can’t get coverage. If it harms someone? You’re facing 100% liability for the resulting costs because it won’t be covered by an insurer. You can try to get an exception, have the dog excluded from the policy, or search for another insurer. More exotic pets (like snakes or meat-eating reptiles) typically excluded from home insurance, too.
- For parents of children: Dig into school district ratings. Education is a crucial part of childhood development. If you have children in primary school, you’ll want to research the best school districts near where you’re planning to move. What are their ratings and why? What are the policies and track records of the schools? It will have a big influence on where you choose to live. For those in secondary schools, focus on any interests your kids have that are reflected in the curriculum. For instance, if your daughter is adamant about becoming a pediatrician, look for schools that emphasize science exposure. Getting credit for certain advanced high school-level courses can help offset your child’s college tuition costs later. Depending on the school training program your child completes, they could even graduate high school with a professional certification! Join other parental groups online and check local news sources to get the real scoop on the state of childhood education before you move.
If You’re Single or Simply Don’t Know Anyone
Single? Looking for friends?
Stop us if this starts to sound like a dating ad, but you’re going to have to work harder to put yourself out there to get to know a new place so it’s not so formidable.
Do this if you don’t know anyone where you’re moving, and are going there alone:
- Read up on the neighborhoods. Most cities are unofficially separated into different neighborhoods that vary by feature. The upscale neighborhoods, the newly renovated and hipster areas, the urban conclaves, places to get your arts and cultural fix, natural parks or lakes, tourist traps, where to get the best shopping, food, business or trade connections… You name it. If you’re excited to explore a new city, get to know where you want to hang out, where you want to live, and if you want those two places to actually be the same thing or separate. Can you handle living around an area with nonstop nightlife? Or the suburbs? Do you want your amenities within walking distance or do you prefer to live on the outskirts?
- Check crime rate & response times. When you’re alone in a new city you don’t know very well, safety should be at the forefront of your decision. This also goes back to the first point: know where your nearest hospitals, ER, and urgent care centers are wherever you’re moving to. What’s the average police and ambulance response time? What do the crime rate and density look like by neighborhood or zip code? There are lots of deceptively attractive areas you’ll see in the daytime that actually have surprising crime rates. Whether it’s break-ins, burglaries, juvenile mischief, or even violent crime, you need to know before you make the commitment. Get the real deal from real residents using apartment review pages and sites like Nextdoor.com for neighborhoods.
If You’re Buying a Home There
House-hunting means you’re seriously thinking about settling in a new place. If you’ve never lived there before and never bought a house, you’ll want to look out for these things specifically:
- What are taxes like? Insurance? What are the property taxes and insurance rates in your new desired location? Are they higher than what you’re paying now (or more than what you’d be willing to pay)? Don’t stop at digging into the property taxes, but find out if your new destination requires state income taxes, too.
- Before closing, check Mother Nature. Are you moving to an area notorious for flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, etc? If you’re eyeing a move to a new place with a reputation for natural disasters, this should be at the top of your FAQs when looking for a new home. Real estate agents should be able to find answers to these questions and steer clear of showing you anything that gives you pause. Likewise, it’s best if you’re upfront about your concerns right away.
- Find the nearest fire department. Not only will this help you save on home insurance costs, but you’ll feel safer knowing that trained firefighters aren’t far away if you ever need them.
- Locate nearby noise-makers and potential hazards. Unfortunately, some people don’t even think about this until they’re trying to sleep or get to work and a train abruptly and very loudly interrupts them, or an airplane jams up their WiFi and cell phone signals. The dangers of living near an outdoor gun range or an unofficial shooting practice area are obvious. Airports, railroads, shooting ranges, etc… these are things to avoid when house-hunting somewhere you’ve never been before. Make sure you notify any realtor you’re working with, too, of these deal-breakers.
Get Ready to Start Over Somewhere New—Fearlessly
Lots of people find it too intimidating to even consider heading off alone.
(Meanwhile, other folks do the exact opposite, diving in headfirst to the prospect without planning at all). Both mindsets often end up having regrets over “what could have been.”
It can seem exciting to move to a place you’ve never lived in. It can also prove challenging if you don’t check out this critical information first.
Now, you don’t have to let any of that stop you!