Relocating to a new city is one of the biggest–and potentially most rewarding–life changes you can make. It takes some work and courage to uproot your life and move it somewhere new, but doing so gives you a fresh start. While relocating can be great, it also has its challenges, particularly if you’re moving across state lines or relocating for a job.
If you’re committed to moving somewhere new, or even considering relocating, do some thinking around why relocating is right for you and check out these relocation tips to make your relocation a success.
Build a (Sizable) Relocation Budget
Before you decide if you’re ready to pull the trigger on relocating, you need to know what it will cost you. Start by listing out all your potential relocation expenses–these are just costs associated with the process of moving to your new home, so you can leave out change in cost of living and taxes for now (more on that below). In this budget, make sure to include:
- The cost of a house hunting/scouting trip to visit your new city
- Lease termination costs, or the cost of selling your home
- Cost of security deposit/down payment for a new home
- Set up and closure fees of utilities, internet, and cable
- The cost of new furnishings
- Potential costs to fix/upgrade your new home
- Moving expenses (more on this below)
Even if you’re just using rough estimates, this will help you determine how much it will cost for you to tackle the upfront expenses of your actual relocation.
Look Into the Long-Term Expenses of Your New City
Once your initial budget is put together, it’s time to look at the long-term expenses of moving somewhere new. That means reviewing two big categories: cost of living and taxes.
Cost of Living Changes After Relocating
Even if you’re moving between two cities of approximately the same size, your cost of living is going to change. It’s an important factor to weigh when considering how to relocate effectively, or when evaluating a job offer with a relocation package. Check out a cost of living calculator, like this one from NerdWallet, to see how much your cost of living will change when relocating. If you’re evaluating a job offer, make sure to take that into special consideration when weighing it against your current salary and benefits.
Taxes When Relocating
Perhaps the most tedious part of moving to a new state is that you’ll need to file partial-year tax returns in both states for the year you moved. That’s a particularly big change if you’re moving to a state with a significantly different income tax rate (but a nice relief if you’re moving to a state with no income tax at all). Consult with a CPA or other tax specialist to get estimates of how much you can expect to spend–and how much money you’ll need to set aside–on your taxes for the year you relocate.
Research Your New City’s Laws
While cost of living and taxes are key parts of research when relocating, finding out the local laws are key, too. Particularly if you’re a business owner or independent contractor, understanding the state and local laws of where you’re considering moving to will have a large impact on your decision. Even if you don’t fall into that category, it’s a good idea to catch up on local driving laws (like handheld device usage), and if you’re planning on buying a home, the legalese of that process in that particular state.
Get to Know the Area You’re Relocating To
Researching your new potential home isn’t all legalese. There are plenty of fun details to research, too. Before you commit to relocating, you need to get a sense of what the people are like in your potential new home. There are plenty of great resources for after you relocate, but scoping out an area before you decide to move there is a lot harder. Thankfully, these sites can help you get a sense of what an area is like before you pick up and move there.
The City’s Local Subreddit
For a sense of the local personality, what’s happening in town, and the little quirks that make people tick in your new city, you don’t need to go any further than a city’s subreddit. A quick peruse of their homepage will help you see what’s happening on a higher level. Many city subreddits also include highlighted tips and threads about what to know if you’re considering moving there, as well as local tips to make moving to the city easy. If you have a specific question, this is also the best place to ask to get localized, honest answers.
Niche’s Neighborhood-Specific Details
Once you decide you’re ready to. relocate, you’ll need to decide which neighborhood to call home. Niche is like the Yelp of neighborhoods. Enter a neighborhood and you’ll find crime rates, population statistics, and reviews by local residents. It’s not quite seeing the neighborhood in person, but it’s as close as you’ll get without actually going there. Which bring us to our next piece of advice…
Plan a Visit to Scope Out Your New City
Online research helps, but nothing comes close to visiting the city you’re relocating to in-person. Once you’ve committed to relocating to a city, plan a trip there to scope out the area and maybe even try to find a place to rent (more on this below). Don’t fall into the trap of spending your trip perusing the tourist hotspots–you can do this anytime once you move there. Instead, use this trip as a fact-finding mission to explore some of the neighborhoods you’re considering living in, get a sense of the local culture, and if you don’t have a job lined up yet, schedule a few in-person interviews while you’re in town.
Find a New Home (But Maybe Not Right Away)
It’s tempting to rush into buying a home in your new city so you have a permanent place to move into after relocating (after all, nobody wants to move twice). While that strategy may grant you some short-term benefits, in the long term, it’s going to hurt you.
Buying a home in an area you aren’t familiar with could be a huge financial risk. You don’t know the neighborhood, and even if it looks good in all your research, you may find that after a real-life visit, it’s not for you. If you rent a home, then you may be stuck in an unhappy situation for a few months or a year. But if you buy a home? You’ll have to choose between potentially losing money by moving, or staying in an unhappy place to save cash.
Instead of buying a place right away, consider renting on a month-to-month basis so you have a chance to test the neighborhoods for yourself without the added pressure of a short trip.
Keep Moving Costs Low When Relocating
When relocating, you have a lot of choices for different ways to tackle moving. A traditional cross-country mover may take all the truck-driving and physical lifting out of the equation, but it will do so at a hefty cost. Doing a total DIY move where you lift everything yourself and rent your own truck may save you some cash, but it requires a lot of work.
The best way to move when relocating is a hybrid model. Load and unload your items with Dolly’s on-demand labor only help. Rent and drive a truck, ship your items with Amtrak, or use a portable storage system like PODS to take care of the cross-country move. Handle packing yourself instead of hiring a potential packer, but maybe use a rentable moving box service to get moving boxes delivered to your door. By putting just a bit of work in yourself, you’ll end up saving thousands of dollars.
Settle In and Start Making Friends
Once you’re moved in, the best way to handle relocating is to relax and have fun. Make friends, go out to new places, and get to know your new city. You’ll find that if you tackle relocation with an adventurous spirit, you’ll spend less time reminiscing about your old home, and more time enjoying where you’re at now.
Now that you’ve got the best relocation tips down, get started on coordinating your move. Dolly can help you load up your moving truck, bring your old furniture to the local dump, and even bring your new furniture from the store to your new home. Leave all the heavy lifting of relocation to Dolly so you can focus on finding a home that’s right for you.
Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.