First, congratulations on your recent graduation, if relevant, and your decision to move to a new city!
Moving to a new place can be a really great way to help you jump-start the rest of your independent adult life. Whether you’re moving to your new city to enter the workforce or to continue your education, it’s never too early to start preparing for the move. However, the steps you need to take to start your move are not always clear, which can make getting started overwhelming and scary.
But have no fear! This post will provide you with a foundational checklist of steps you can take to help you plan out your move in advance and avoid any unnecessary stress. Figuring out how to move to a new city can be a daunting task, but we’re here to help you make your move successful!
Make A Timeline for Moving
Start planning your move to a new city as soon as possible! The best way to start planning is to sit down and map out your timeline. Because you are moving to a new city to start a job/school, you should build your timeline around your first day of work/school. In other words, you should work backward to build your timeline. Instead of looking at today’s arbitrary date and trying to figure things out from there, start with the day your job/school starts and work backward.
For example, if you know your job/school starts on June 22nd, then establish June 22nd as your goal date, and figure out what actions you need to take to make sure that you are moved in and settled before June 22nd.
What Do I Need To Have Completed And By When?
Next, you’ll have to figure out how much time you want to give yourself to move in. You’ll have to account for the time you’ll need to travel to your new city and for the time it will take you to make your space livable.
For example, if you know it will take you two days to travel with things like clothes and toiletries and three more days for your essential furniture (like a bed frame, mattress, etc.) to arrive, then you should plan to have the apartment at least a week before your job/work starts.
Your apartment doesn’t necessarily need to be perfectly set up before starting your job/work. You’ll just need somewhere to sleep, eat, and get yourself ready for the day. Things like couches, TVs, rugs, decorations, etc. can always wait. However, if you really want to have your apartment completely ready to go before your job/school starts, then you’ll just have to plan for that.
After you figure out how much time you’ll need for moving in, you’ll have to pick the date you actually want to move to the city. The start date of your job/school and your plans for moving in will affect your move-in date, which is exactly why it’s important to build this timeline backward. Whether you want to be moved in a month before your job/school starts or a week before, you need to figure it out and plan accordingly.
What Else About The Move Should Be Considered?
Finding an apartment and signing the lease can take more time than you’d think, so plan to start hunting at least two months before you want to move in.
To summarize, you need to figure out the dates for two things:
The day your job/school starts
The day you want to move in
Mapping out just these two dates will help you to start to build the framework of your moving timeline. This is key when building your plan on how to move to a new city. As you continue to go through the process of moving, you’ll notice that this timeline will start to include more and more dates, which is perfectly normal. These two dates are here to help get you started and to help make sure that you’re ready to go by the time your job/school starts!
Phew that is a lot already. Are you sure you want to know how to move to a new city? Yes? Alright, let’s get serious!
How to Start Apartment Hunting
Apartment hunting in a city, even a small one, can sometimes feel like a Herculean task because cities offer hundreds of apartments to choose from. But making your way through the options can be easier than you think. It’s just a matter of figuring out what’s best for you!
The first parameter you need to establish is your price range. Your price range will probably be your most influential factor when picking your apartment, so be realistic with your budget. Try to pick a price range that you will be able to afford, while also picking a range that will let you live where you want.
Pro tip: Sometimes jobs will offer moving stipends, so ask your employer.
When calculating your budget for rent, you will also need to consider the cost of amenities, utilities, renter’s insurance, the deposit, and more. These extra categories can make your rent a lot higher than the listing price, so make sure to calculate all of these costs when deciding your rent budget.
Read More: Get Our Free Excel Budget For New Adults
The next thing you need to do is find the apartments that are available in your new city. Depending on how far away you are from your new city, apartment hunting online will be the most convenient way to see a lot of apartments quickly. There are tons of apartment hunting websites and apps that will help you filter through all of your apartment options. Websites like Apartments.com will allow you to search for apartments within your budget that have the particular amenities that you want.
For example, if you indicate that in-unit laundry is a must, Apartments.com will only show you apartments that have in-unit laundry. In order to make your apartment hunting even easier, you’ll also want to decide how big you want your apartment to be.
It can be hard to tell how big an apartment is just by looking at pictures of floor plans online. But if you look at the floor plans based on the square footage of the apartment, then it will be a lot easier to see just how big (or small) it is. You can also set up filters for certain square footage on apartment hunting websites!
To Have A Roommate or To Not
Next, you’ll need to decide two things: your roommate situation and the amenities you want. First of all, deciding whether to live with roommates is an extremely important decision. There’s a very good chance that you’ll end up living alone for the first year or so that you’re in a new city because you won’t know anyone.
However, social media and other websites may help you find people to live with. Either way, remember that there are both pros and cons to deciding to live with other people. Some of the pros include cheaper rent, constant company, and people to help cook meals. Some of the cons include noisy roommates, messy shared spaces, and a lack of privacy.
Ultimately, your decision of whether to have roommates boils down to the cost of rent and how willing you are to live with other people.
After deciding whether to have roommates, you then need to decide what kind of amenities you want in your apartment. The amenities offered differs from place to place, which makes it difficult to provide an exhaustive list. However, this list will cover most basic amenities, which will help you start to figure out your criteria:
How to Understand the Basic Amenities
Some places include in-unit washers and dryers, some include hookups for you to bring your own machines, some have laundry in a common building outside of your apartment, and some don’t have any laundry services at all. Basically, you’ll just have to decide whether you’re willing to leave your apartment to wash your clothes every week.
2. Pet policy:
If you plan on living with a furry friend, make sure to read the pet policies of the apartments you look at. Some places don’t allow any pets, some only allow cats, and some only allow certain breeds of dogs. Additionally, some pet policies require that you pay a few hundred extra dollars a month as a “pet rent.”
You’d be surprised at how many apartment buildings do not have A/C, especially real central A/C. So, if A/C is a must for you, make sure to check to see if the apartment buildings you look at offer it.
Pro tip: Check and see if the apartment has window-unit A/C or central A/C. They are two very different things.
Determining how far away you’re willing to live from your job/school will really help you figure out which area you want to live in. Don’t forget that most cities have reliable public transportation, which will allow you to live farther away from your job/school without having to drive or walk forever to get there.
5. Kitchen appliances:
Most places come with a refrigerator and an oven, but many places don’t come with a microwave or a dishwasher. While purchasing a microwave tends to be cheap, buying a dishwasher can be a much larger investment. Additionally, you’ll have to check to be sure that the apartment even has a hookup for your dishwasher before buying one.
If you plan on bringing a car, be sure to check to see if the places you’re looking at offer designated street parking, parking deck parking, or no reserved parking at all.
7. Package receiving:
Some places can be tricky with their package delivery system, so be sure to ask about how it works.
Many apartments do not come furnished, which means you’ll have to buy your own furniture. Bigger pieces of furniture like couches, bed frames, mattresses, and dressers can be pricey. It helps to account for the cost of furniture upfront by making a list of everything you’ll need to buy along with approximate prices. Some great places to buy furniture include IKEA, Wayfair, Target, Amazon, and more! Depending on where you buy furniture, it will probably end up costing you several thousand dollars.
Don’t forget to check for extra, more luxurious amenities that the apartment building might offer. These kinds of flashy amenities can include things like a pool, a gym, a movie room, a game room, and elevators.
While these kinds of amenities might be essential for you, do bear in mind most places won’t have all of these available. Additionally, these extra amenities can increase rent by hundreds of dollars, so, depending on your budget, you might want to go without some of these amenities.
Remember Moving Can Be Fun, With Caveats
Despite all of the work that goes into it, apartment hunting can be really fun! Getting to select your own home is a really exciting step to take as an adult! With helpful internet websites, apartment hunting has never been easier—especially if you live far away from your city. Remember that your budget will probably be your largest determining factor, so calculate it wisely.
Additionally, it may be helpful to look at apartment hunting sites first before setting your budget.
That way, you have an idea of how much your desired kind of apartment will cost in your city. Be patient with the process, and give yourself plenty of time to find a place! As you are seeing, there is a lot goes into learning how to move to a new city.
How to Visit And Apply For Apartments
After finding some apartments that you like, it would be a good idea to travel to your new city before signing a lease. While pictures and walkthrough videos on websites can help you narrow down your list of potential apartments, actually standing in the apartment is the best way for you to understand the space. Also, by visiting the apartment, you can check out the surrounding area to see if you could see yourself living there.
Before you go, it can be helpful to have a list of questions ready to go. You’ll be able to find a lot of answers to your questions online, but there will also be some questions that aren’t answered. Make sure to take notes on what you learn! Here are some example questions that you might want to ask:
- How long is the application process?
- Do I need a co-signer?
- Do we need proof of income?
- What’s the renewal process for the lease?
- Is parking a flat rate or is it a monthly rate?
- Is the apartment furnished?
If you can’t spend too much time in your new city to visit apartments, try to schedule all of your tours on the same day. Most apartment tours can be scheduled in advance online, and some places even allow walk-in tours. Most tours only take about 20 minutes, so, depending on how far away the apartments are from each other, you can do a lot in one hour!
Pro tip: Consider visiting apartments that are a part of a large management group. Generally, if you visit one apartment building from a management group, you can get a good idea of how clean and well-maintained their other buildings would be!
Try to narrow your list of places down to 5-7 different apartments to keep you from feeling too overwhelmed. Also, bear in mind that some tours come with a tour guide, while others are self-guided. Self-guided tours can be nice because you get to take your time exploring the apartment, while guided tours provide the benefit of touring with someone who knows the building who can answer questions as they come up.
After you find someplace that you want to live in, you’ll have to apply to live in the apartment! The application can take weeks, so be patient and give yourself plenty of time to go through the process. Here are some documents you might need to complete your application:
- Proof of Income
- Driver’s License Number
- Social Security Number
Some apartments require that you (or a co-signer) make a certain amount of money to live there. Oftentimes, if you don’t make enough money or if you’re a full-time student, apartments will allow you to have a co-signer on the lease who can fulfill the income level requirement.
Choose your co-signer carefully! Additionally, references are not always necessary for the application, but it can’t hurt to have people to put down who are willing to talk about how clean, neat, and tidy you are!
Most places do charge an application fee that is usually around a couple of hundred dollars. Be sure to reserve money for the application fee, and ask management if the application fee goes toward the first month’s rent!
Signing The Lease
If for whatever reason, you didn’t get a chance to meet management before wanting to sign a lease, it would be a good idea to talk with someone from management on the phone. Ask any questions you may have and try to gauge how willing management is to talk with you and help you.
If you have trouble getting ahold of management or getting them to answer your questions, consider choosing a different place to live. You’ll have to work with management the entire time you live in an apartment, so finding management that’s not a nightmare to deal with will save you some stress.
After you know where you want to live, you’ll have to sign a lease. Make sure that you read everything! This is a binding contract that will affect your finances and your overall comfort, so take it seriously.
Here are some great questions to ask:
- How much is the deposit?
- When is the first month of rent due?
- After the first month, is rent due at the beginning or end of the month?
- Do I pay my rent in person or online?
- What are the consequences of breaking the lease?
Try to keep your questions short and to the point, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have. If you have a co-signer on your lease, let them ask questions, too, and make sure that both of you are present for the lease-signing process (even if it’s virtual). Take this process seriously and give yourself time to read the entire lease carefully!
Start Figuring Out How To Manage Your Money
Managing money can be tricky, especially with things like online shopping and credit cards. You have to know how to move to a new city within a budget. It’s very easy to lose track of money, so here is a short guide to help you start planning your budget:
1. Collect All Of Your Financial Documents
Have documents like bank statements, credit card bills, receipts, etc. ready to go.
2. Figure Out Your Income
Use recent pay stubs to calculate how much money you actually make after taxes are taken out. If you don’t have any pay stubs yet, then guesstimate based on your future salary, and adjust your budget once you have concrete numbers.
3. Write Down Your Monthly Expenses
These monthly expenses could include: insurance, rent, phone bill, subscriptions, loan payments, savings, groceries, eating out, and more! Arrange your monthly expenses from least flexible expenses (like rent, groceries, and insurance) to most flexible expenses (like eating out and entertainment). Any adjustments you have to make to your budget will probably be from the “most flexible” categories, so it helps to have them already organized.
4. Total Your Monthly Expenses
If you find that your total is way more than your income, reevaluate how much money you want to spend in each category. There are also a multitude of apps, like Mint and YNAB, and financial services that will help you digitally keep track of your finances!
Read More: Why YNAB Is My Favorite Adulting Tool
Keep up with your budget! Every time you spend money, write down how much you spent and what you spent it on. Otherwise, you’ll lose track of how much money you’re spending, which could get you into all kinds of financial trouble. If you are in financial trouble it will be hard to figure out how to move to a new city without getting in more financial trouble.
Be realistic with your budget and stick to it as best you can to help you achieve your long-term financial goals!
Find Local Places To Be Excited About
Don’t lose sight of your excitement about the move because of the logistics of moving. Be excited about learning how to move to a new city! One great way to make sure you enjoy the moving process is to learn about your new city.
From learning about your city’s history to popular local attractions, there will no doubt be a wide array of things to be excited for! Here are some fun attractions that your city might have: restaurants, zoos/aquariums, walking trails, public parks, museums, art galleries, sports stadiums, and local music hotspots.
You can find out about local attractions from websites, your city’s welcome center, or from coworkers/peers. Going to these attractions with new people is a great way to start making friends and feel more comfortable in your new city! Cities have a lot to offer—you just need to know where to look!
Go Forward With Confidence
Hopefully, this ultimate guide has made moving to your new city seem less scary. Just remember to start preparing early and be confident and decisive when selecting your apartment. Knowing how to move to a new city takes a lot of steps, so it can be a lot to keep track of! But just keep pushing through, and everything will work out in the end.
What are your thoughts? Was this a helpful guide on how to move to a new city? Tell us in the comments below!
Best of luck adulting!
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