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It used to be that work dictated where you lived. But as advances in technology, changing work cultures, and social distancing requirements have altered the way we think about work, many of us are no longer chained to a desk, a specific office space—or even a city—in the way we used to be.
As we’re adjusting and settling in to this new way of working, it’s becoming clear that there are some upsides. Work from the backyard. Work from bed. Work from a lake house. This freedom also means that we can live where we want, unbound by the constraints of our jobs, and for some of us, this means we’re ready for a new city.
But the freedom to work anywhere in the world comes with the challenges of getting there. Moving is one of the most stressful things we can do—moving during a pandemic really ups the ante. Whether you’re relocating to be near family or to finally live in your dream city, there are a lot of things to consider when picking up your life and moving it to a new city.
Read on for our list of the top 10 things to consider when relocating, whether it’s across the state or across the country.
Some cities are great to visit, but you couldn’t see yourself living there. A summer weekend in Seattle might make you consider it, but if you’re not ready to sport a rain jacket for the winter, none of Seattle’s many charms will make it a good fit for you. Other cities are hidden gems you’d never suspect until you start digging a little deeper to discover the hole-in-the-walls, dive bars, and local spots that get overlooked by tourists. Thinking about the pros and cons of your prospective cities can help you think about what actually living there might feel like.
A few of the practical things to consider when moving to a new city are job prospects in your field (if you’re switching jobs), how the climate suits your lifestyle (snow, or no?), and whether it will be easy to build community there (we all need friends). If you attend a place of worship, have your kids in specific activities, go to the gym, or get involved in local politics, find out what these activities would look like in your new city.
Another thing to factor in is whether you already have friends and family in the city you’re considering. Friends and family aren’t just a good reason to relocate—they’re a life hack for the big transition you’re about to make. From emotional support to being there to unload boxes to answering your questions about the best burger in town, local relationships in your prospective city will make a big difference in your moving experience.
If you want to maintain your current lifestyle in a new city, you’ll need to calculate the cost of living there. Many finance websites have cost of living calculators that allow you to compare your current city and any new cities you’re considering, with breakdowns for housing, transportation, and food.
If you’re looking for an apartment or sublet, read up on the average price range for apartment rentals and check out roommate opportunities on sites like Rent.com and Apartmentfinder.com. If you’re ready to buy a house, get plugged into the local real estate market with sites like zillow.com.
One of the most important things to consider when moving to a new city is the state of your finances. Before you move, take a look at your income, expenses, and budget to make sure the often expensive process of moving won’t stretch you too thin. Spreadsheets do the trick, but so can tools like Mint.com.
Just like you might make a moving checklist for your belongings (clothes, couch, cat), you should make a moving checklist for your wallet. Create a spreadsheet of anticipated income and realistic expenses in your new city—this is especially helpful if your new city has a higher cost of living than where you currently live. Perhaps most importantly of all, have 3–8 months of savings as a cushion in case you need a fallback plan or if unexpected expenses pop up (and with a cross-country move, it’s almost inevitable).
One of the main expenses associated with moving is transporting and buying furniture. Is it worth it to transport a bed frame or a couch that’s worth less than it will cost to move it? Maybe. But this is where furnished apartments can come in: you move to your new city without the hassle and expense of transporting furniture, and save yourself trips to furniture stores to find the right sofa and the backache of hauling your new furniture up all those stairs. With a furnished apartment, your home will be ready for you when you arrive, leaving you with the time to explore, settle in, and relax.
Once you’ve chosen a city, it’s time to select your village inside the city. This is the fun part.
While exploring neighborhoods that fit within your budget, find out what’s nearby: museums, grocery stores, shopping, bars, parks. What do you want to have in your neighborhood, and how close are those destinations? If it’s possible to spend time in the area, go sample that interesting-looking taco place on the corner, have a beer from the microbrewery, or lounge in the local park. While some things are on hold because of the pandemic, you’ll still be able to get a feel for what’s on offer.
If you’re relocating to a city that’s under some level of quarantine protocol, you can still visit restaurants for takeout or order delivery. Visit open-air markets and farmers’ markets, whose operations are not affected by COVID. You can also research the kinds of festivals and other big events that normally happen in the city in question. The Gilroy Garlic Festival or Art Basel Miami are on hold this year, but they’ll be back.
First-hand knowledge is the best way to make an informed choice on neighborhoods—there’s something about being in a neighborhood that will give you the gut feeling if it’s right for you. But if that’s not possible, never fear: research can be done remotely and will get you halfway there.
Many of us are choosing to drive, bike, or walk to get around these days, and determining your preferred method of transportation can help you choose the right neighborhood. For walkers, checking out a neighborhood walkability score can point you in the right direction. Like to bike? Choosing a neighborhood with access to bike paths, in a relatively flat section of the city is key (unless you’re up for the challenge of a hill). If you’re driving, easy access to a freeway can cut down on travel time. Considering the public transit of a new city is helpful, too. While traditional commutes to the office are on pause for many of us, public transit is still an efficient way to explore.
Even the most dense city has parks, green spaces, and other ways to spend time in nature. Whether you’re planning to hit Ocean Beach in San Francisco, hike to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, or stroll through New York’s Central Park, exploring outdoor activities near your prospective home, from corner parks to national forests, is an important consideration when relocating to a new city.
Logistics are everything. When you’re planning your move, you want to find ways to save time, money, and stress without cutting corners or settling for less.
Be realistic about your belongings’ value. If the vast majority of what you own is replaceable, from thrifted items to IKEA furniture, it might not be worth moving it across the country. Decide what’s coming with you, and get rid of the rest by selling it on Craigslist, donating it, or giving it away to friends.
Now you have to decide how you’re going to transport what you are keeping. Moving trucks are a great way to keep track of your belongings, but fees for one-way trips can be expensive, and you’ll need to invest the time for a drive (it’s not for everyone). Hiring full-service movers is also an option, and while this cuts down on the hassle, it’s a more expensive option. Portable moving containers are also popular, as they tend to be less expensive than professional moving companies, and incredibly convenient.
Deciding on whether you should seek temporary or permanent housing will depend on why you’re relocating. If you’re swapping cities for work or to seek new adventures and aren’t looking to put down roots right away (or want to leave your options open), looking for rental housing rather than house-shopping is a no-brainer.
At Zeus Living, we often help residents who are relocating to a new city permanently, but want to try out a neighborhood or two before settling into their new home. A furnished rental allows you to do that, whether you’re relocating for six months or the rest of your life. You can rent a furnished apartment or home for a month or longer, giving yourself a launchpad in your new city. Take time deciding your next steps, get to know your neighborhood—or any others that have caught your eye—and then decide where you’d like to end up.
Family moves have to make sense for everyone. When considering relocating, make sure your new neighborhood—and home—is in a location convenient not only to your work and social life, but convenient for the rest of your family as well. Determine whether the schools, doctor and dentist offices, libraries, and stores you need are within a reasonable distance. Have pets? Having outdoor space or being near parks and other green spaces can greatly impact your (and your pet’s) quality of life.
From deciding where to move to packing your things to making the leap, relocation is a long, involved process that takes its toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy. While it may feel like one extra thing on your moving checklist, being proactive about managing stress while moving should be just as important as booking the right moving company or deciding on a new mattress.
It’s our mission to support you through life’s big transitions, when you need a place to come home to, whether that’s for a year, or for a couple months. Stay with Zeus and you can relax the moment you arrive, surrounded by the comforts of home. Next up: get out there and explore.