Post-Grad: The Low-Stress Guide to Moving to a New City

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Welcome to a brand new series here on the blog: Post-Grad! As you may know, I recently graduated college, and I thought I could use a space to document all the "adulting" tips and tricks I find. Transitioning from college to the adult world can be overwhelming, hopefully this series makes it a bit easier!

Fun fact: I've moved over 20 times in my life. It's an awful lot of moving, but honestly I love nothing more than getting to know a new city and establishing a new routine and list of favorite places. Honestly, at this point I get a bit restless once I've been in a place for more than a year. Now, I know that might sound insane to a lot of people. Plenty of folks live happily in one town their whole lives! But the reality is, these days, a lot of people move after college for potential opportunities, jobs, and lifestyles. So today I've rounded up all of my tips for moving to a new city while minimizing your stress levels.

  • Establish your budget: Before you do anything, map out a budget for rent, utilities, transportation, moving expenses, and home decor. You gotta know what you're working with before you start making decisions. If you're not sure what to budget for utilities or moving expenses, do a little Google-ing to find averages for the area.
  • Start researching early: Get on Zillow, Apartments.com, look up local guides to neighborhoods. The key here is to get an understanding of not just where you want to live, but what neighborhoods have the best amenities and are within your budget range. Check out what the typical amenities are for rentals in the area and whether utilities are normally included in the rent.
  • Keep your commute in mind: A cheap apartment an hour from work might seem feasible, but make sure your transportation costs won't add up enough to make a more expensive and closer apartment a better option. There's not much difference between spending an extra $200 on gas and an extra $200 in rent at comparable apartments.
  • Make a list: Write down what neighborhoods fit all your needs and tastes. Also be sure to jot down everything you consider essentials - things like in-building laundry, parking, good security, etc. This should make things a lot easier when you start picking out potential apartments. Make sure you know your target move-in date as well.
  • Here We Go!: Get back on the apartment search websites, find places that fit most, if not all, of your criteria and your budget, and contact the listed agents to make sure the places are still available and will be available by the time you want to move in.
  • Visit: I can't emphasize this enough. Yes, it will involve spending more money, but it's key to see a place before you rent it. You never know if accurate photos were posted or if other random little things like noisy neighbors or weird smells will bother you. There are also a million and one rental scams out there, so never send anyone any deposit unless you've seen the apartment and made sure everything is legit. I've heard of people who paid several months rent in advance and showed up to a non-existent address - don't do that to yourself!
  • Moving: Now that you've secured a place, you should already be thinking about how your stuff is getting there. Do you have enough stuff that you need to hire movers? Can everything squeeze into your car? Once you know that, stock up on supplies and start sorting what's going where so you don't have to run out and grab ten more boxes at the last minute. Personally, I'm not a fan of buying moving boxes, packing paper, or bubble wrap because it all just gets thrown away at the end. Anything with drawers or cubbies can be wrapped in cellophane so you won't have to pack and unpack its contents. Leave hanging clothes on the hangers and wrap them in a garbage bag for easy transportation. Books go best in rolling suitcases (in my personal, book hoarding opinion). Storage containers and space bags work great for handling everything else and they stay useful once you get where you're going. For breakable items, wrap them in clothes! 
  • Utilities: Once you know where you're headed, you also need to figure out how your utilities are going to work. If they're included in your rent, awesome, just make sure everything is good to go for your move in date. If you're paying them yourself, do some research and figure out when exactly you need to set up accounts, schedule appointments for set up, and pay bills.
  • A final tip: Don't go crazy buying new stuff for your new place before you move in! Buy any absolute essentials once you're there and then take your time filling in the rest. It's hard to tell exactly what you need and what will be practical in a space until you're actually living in it. You really want to have a good sense of things like lighting and how you move through the space before any shopping sprees. I'll share more tips on this in a separate post!

This is exactly the process I'll be using for my upcoming move. Got any moving tips of your own? Feel free to share them below!