1. Can I afford it?
I know this sounds obvious, but you can’t budget enough when you’re thinking about jumping ship to a new city. Last minute expenses will always come up and although we all hope for that silver lining to appear right when we need it, the less you can count on that lucky break by covering your grounds monetarily, the smoother that transition will be. Tip: whatever you’ve budgeted for your move, double it. If you can afford it still, you’re in good shape.
2. Do I know anyone that lives where I’m going?
When I moved out to Kansas City, I knew one person. And that was a friend I’ve known for more than half my life. Even with one solid person that I was connected to, it took me just over a year to finally get my footing right and get everything to align accordingly. It’s hard moving to a new area, and it’s even harder if you don’t have a network where you’re going. It’s not impossible, but the more connections you have, the quicker you can get yourself acclimated to your new stomping grounds.
3. What are the good/bad neighborhoods?
Take advantage of the technology we have now and use it to do some good research. At this point, you can probably ask Siri what types of neighborhoods to look into. I’m kidding (although, who knows? If I had an iPhone, I’d be tempted to try it). See what kinds of areas you’d be interested in moving into and call the people you know (if you know anyone) and ask around. If you don’t know anyone and you’re braving it on your own, call a realtor agency. There are plenty of companies that are specifically designed to help you relocate and they’ll tell you all the things you’ll want to know about the area you’re looking into. Utilize the resources that are available to you, it’ll make things a lot easier.
4. What’s the cost of living there?
Cost of living varies from state to state; never under-estimate this fact. Be as extensive as you can be with this. Find out through locals how much groceries are, average rent/mortgages, property expenses, taxes… The better idea you can get before arriving, the more prepared you can be—and also the more negotiating power you’ll have when you’re determining what to request for your salary.
5. What’s the job market like?
Speaking of salary, you’ll want to know this for sure. What is the job market like where you’re headed? Is it expanding? Is it consistent? Are there multiple opportunities? You may already have a job lined up or you may be transferring with your existing job. Do research on your own employer and see what their particular market is like in that specific area. Even within companies, management can be completely different. The culture can contrast from what you’re accustomed to, so you’ll definitely want to know what type of environment you’re putting yourself in before you arrive. Who knows? Maybe it suits you even more than where you are now.
6. How much does it cost to register my vehicle?
I know, I know. Everyone hates dealing with registration. Everyone hates the DMV. This is common knowledge. But trust me, even if your tags are good to go for another 8 months after you’ve already moved, unless you have a permanent address where you currently reside that you can continue to renew your information through, do yourself a favor and just rip the Band-Aid off. Find out the information to get your stuff transferred over. The sooner you just get it over with, the sooner you can just be done with it and not run the risk of forgetting it has to get done and get pulled over because you have out-of-state tags that are now also out-of-date. Not a fun way to get to know your new home.
7. How do the school systems operate?
This really only applies to those who have children, and this should go without saying but still. Just to be thorough, you always want to know what types of schools are in the area you’re planning on heading towards. This may change your whole game plan once you find out how different districts are run. It’s much more work to figure all this information out in hindsight, so the more contact you have with the state, the schools and anyone else that can be a viable resource to you before you get there, the happier both you and your child(ren) will be.
8. How much is gas where I’m going?
This kind of ties into the cost of living aspect of things, but gas has become its own demon nowadays. For anyone who’s planning on road-tripping to their new destination, you’ll definitely want to map out your budget accordingly. Instead of going through the leg work of trying to figure out the exact dollar amount each state you’ll be traveling through charges, just over-estimate what the gas price will be and go off of that number. Example: If gas is $3.65/gallon where you are, assume its $5/gallon, then multiply that by the amount of miles you’ll be travelling. It’s safe to say there aren’t many places that charge $5/gallon for gas and hey, once you arrive, you’ll have extra cash in that reserve. Over-budgeting is never a bad idea.
9. How long do I want to stay there?
Perhaps you just want to try it out for a year, or maybe this new place is where you want to raise your grandchildren. Maybe you won’t know this answer until you’ve already gotten there. The idea is not to necessarily have an answer to this question, but to have this question in the back of your mind. It’ll give you a better trajectory of where you’re aiming to go. Time is valuable, so make the most of it. Have at the very least, a tentative plan. The beauty of life is that plans can always change.
10. Do I really need this where I’m going?
Maybe it’s just me, but I detest packing. Like, loathe. Vehemently… viscerally… despise. Have I painted a vivid picture? I don’t like packing. So maybe this next question is easier for me to answer than most because I know some people grow an attachment to the things they’ve accumulated. And you should, you’ve earned what you have. But, sometimes the costs to move these things across state borders outweigh the costs to replace them/get new things once you move. Really evaluate what is absolutely necessary for you take with you and what items you have in your personal inventory that you can live without or replace once you get to your new domicile. It’ll cut down your costs initially AND it provides a valid excuse to go shopping for new, fun stuff! It’s a win-win.
11. What is here that I’m going to need out there?
Everyone has their vices. Their favorite pizza parlor, nail salon, barber shop, boutique… “dealer”… (just being real, here…) Most people gravitate towards exclusivity, so many of your favorite hangouts most likely won’t be in the next state over. Me, in particular, I’m a fat kid at heart, so Yelp has been my faithful BFF. I refuse to move to a new area unless there is some sort of homemade ice cream/custard shop. I’ve made a few compromises as far as coffee and pizza… and I still have trouble adjusting (you’ll know this from my last article), but one of the things I enjoy about being in a new area is discovering the hot spots. You’ll learn that every state has a gem worth finding. So make sure you stock up on anything you can’t replace from the gems you’ve found in your state before you go. For instance, when I do move back home to NY, I’m buying as much Sweet Tea as my Jeep will fit and hurling that with me. No shame.
12. When should I leave?
Timing is everything. Check the weather forecast, watch your calendar for any major holidays or reasons there would be higher traffic and find out the optimum time to put in your two weeks so that you can get the most out of your remaining pay schedule… coordinate diligently. Sometimes your heart just wants to jump and bug out ASAP and other times, your boss is hounding you to get out there on his time table. Push back. Don’t forget your rights as an individual when you’re being uprooted out of your current living situation. As long as you’re firm with what you’ve got going on and can bring valid points as to why you want to move when you want to move and not when they want you to move, they have no choice but to oblige. If they’re not willing to, then that should be a big indicator of how you’re valued in the company you’re about to relocate for. Compromise within reason, but remember that you come first.
13. What am I losing if I leave?
We all have to make sacrifices anytime we invite change into our lives, but as long as the sacrifice is worth whatever we’re attaining at the end of it, we’ll have the peace of mind to know that it wasn’t in vain. Make sure you weigh out all the pros and cons when you’re taking this next step. Make sure that you tie up any loose ends and prioritize pragmatically. Your days are numbered once you make this decision and if this is a permanent move, realize that even though there’s a possibility you may come back, it won’t be the same. Not trying to sound melodramatic, here. But just appreciate where you’re at now because you never know what can transpire once you take that leap. Be excited, though. It’s a chance for re-invention, for growth.
14. What am I gaining if I leave?
This is the more fun question. Dream a little. What can this new environment offer? What can be learned here? These are inspiring questions, questions that should get you motivated. Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish this time around. What you want to see, where you want to go, the type of people you want to meet… have at least a bit of direction (and not too much direction, being flexible can work greatly in your favor during a time of transition). That way, when you set foot on your journey, you’ve got something to look forward to, like a pin point, a check mark, or a “that was easy.” Having small, easily accomplished short term goals will boost your confidence in making this decision and comfort you during a time of adjustment.
15. What is my goal for moving out there?
Short term goals are great, and so are long term goals. There should always be a final destination—whether that changes in a few years when new information has been brought to light, that’ll be a time to regroup and create a new plan, but have an end goal. A goal that states “while I’m here, I want to make sure I at least get X, Y and Z accomplished.” These don’t have to be save-the-world campaigns or crazy marks on your career. Just goals that will require time that you personally will find satisfaction in knowing you were able to get done. Find your inner kid and hear what he/she has to say. Every new chapter in your life presents an opportunity to connect with that side of you again. Seize it.
16. What’s my back-up plan?
Sometimes, we fail. And that’s okay, as long as we can anticipate that as a possibility. If it doesn’t work out for you, you should always have a plan B to fall back on. Be careful not to burn any bridges where you are, you never know what resources you’ll need in the future. Maybe where you are is just not working for you at all anymore—so don’t feel like you have to go backwards, just have another place mapped out in your mind. Maybe your dreams were just a little too big to fit into reality right now… and that might not always be a bad thing. Failure and struggle inspire creativity. Embrace it, keep an open mind and see what else the world has to offer. You may surprise yourself with realizing you don’t always know what you want the first time around.
17. Is this the right move?
Don’t expect to find the answer to this right away, because it won’t happen until you’ve already made the move. But be cognizant that every step you’re taking is with the intention to move forward and not just because you’re restless and you want a change of scenery. You’ve got to know that if you’re in a rut and you’re not happy where you are, it’ll take work on your part to change that no matter where you go. Don’t expect a new city to do that for you. Sometimes, you need everything around you to be different to see what parts of you are controlled, and what parts are variable. That’s fine. But never assume that just because you’ve changed your address, things will get better. You’ve got to make that change happen inside of you first.
Godspeed, fearless nomads.