What to Consider Before You Move to a New City

Samantha Shim/ Thrillist

Whether you’re starting a new job or just looking for a change, making a big move is an opportunity for a fresh start and perspective on life. That said, switching cities is an enormous undertaking and pretty daunting. For those in the early stages of contemplating a new city, there are a million different factors to consider. So, we outlined the biggest pieces of the puzzle you need to know before you start calling apartment brokers.

Weather

It’s easy to say you “love seasons” until you’re actually dealing with them. Moving to a snowy area sounds great, and then you find yourself dealing with two extra dreary gray months out of the year. Alternatively, those relocating to California celebrate the sunny weather, only to be unnerved by an eerie lack of rain. If possible, try to visit your prospective city in several seasons, and talk to locals to see how they handle them. Pack accordingly — if everyone is carrying around “just in case” jackets, umbrellas, or, say, snow shoes, they probably know something you don’t.

Job hunting

When moving to a new city, the job hunt is usually your first consideration. So if you’ve landed the job of your dreams, congratulations! Except there’s one last concern: what if this gig falls through? It’s a good practice to consider the job market in your target city, within your field. That way even if your new job doesn’t work out, you’ll have other opportunities. Do a quick scan on industry-specific professional networking sites (Fishbowl is one for those in media and marketing, Otta is good if you’re looking at tech and startups, both can give you city-specific job hunting advice.) Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box: in the remote-work world we’re in now, your options may be less limited than you thought. (There are even some places that will pay you to move there.)

Real estate markets

If you’re anything like us, you’ve already procrastinated by looking up places you could never afford. Once it’s time to get serious, though, check out some realistic options for your budget on Apartments.com. Rule of thumb: the bigger the city, the smaller your space. That garage, extra office, or pottery studio you’re dreaming about may mean you’ll need to move further from the city center. Figure out how much space you need, your budget, and where to find that right balance between space, commute, and cost. Even if you don’t have a permanent space locked down when you first move, you’ll have a head start on where to look.

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Moving and settling in can be a saga, but finding a place shouldn't be. Apartments.com has successfully helped over 40 million happy renters sign leases nationwide, so they've likely got the right spot for you, too. Their easy-to-use interface helps simplify the process, with features like virtual tours and filters that can pinpoint exactly what you're looking for. Whether you're going cross-country or just looking for more space in your own city, check Apartments.com to make the process easier.

Samantha Shim/ Thrillist

Moving costs

It may seem like a small factor in the apartment hunt, but schlepping stuff across the country is no joke. A simple moving calculator can help you figure out your budget but a general rule of thumb is that a full cross-country or long-distance move will run, on average, $5K. There’s also the time and stress of a move, which is considerable, to say the least. As much as you can, try to simplify: new city, new you, right?

Transportation

Speaking of commuting, know before you move how you want to get around. Big on biking? Think tight-knit city. Can’t give up your SUV? You might have to avoid downtown. Figuring out bus and train routes to get to your new job, grocery stores, and friends will make your life easier if you do it prior to choosing an apartment. Here’s where the “ask a local” tip really comes in handy: chances are, they’ll be willing to talk your ear off about which highways are congested at which times, which buses never seem to show up, and more.

Community

It helps to like the people you live near. When you’re checking out local media, keep track of events and stories in your neighborhood. Are you moving to hotly contested political territory? (Hint: voting data is public info that can be looked up online.) What are the important issues in local news? If schools or churches are important to your family, you’ll have to do some research and figure out if they match your values. (Luckily if you’re prioritizing, say, restaurants and nightlife, a simpler maps search is usually sufficient.) Finding your community is hugely important, so see if there are any meetup groups that’ll help introduce you to people who share your hobbies, whether that’s board games or getting outdoors. Finally, you get to think about all the fun parts of moving, so get excited and let your imagination run wild.