Moving to a New City? Answer These Questions Before You Start Packing

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Unless you’ve been living off the grid for a while, you’ve probably heard about this great influx of people moving to Oregon–Portland specifically.  For those of us that live here, it’s definitely been an adjustment to the increases in traffic, general cost of living, and the changes in housing availability and affordability.  And of course there’s the great debate that comes with these changes: whether Portland was better off before all these newcomers, or if the influx has forced improvements that make the city better.  Walk 5 feet down any street and you’ll hear 10 different opinions.  This migration has got me thinking about something a little different, though: how people decide to move to a new city in the first place.

Moving to a new city can be a fun, but scary experience.  I’ve done it a couple times now, and each time I feel the same way: excited but nervous, hopeful but hesitant, adventurous but like an outsider.  It’s a mixture of good and bad feelings that forces me to take a good look at the move I’m about to make and ensure I have made a good decision.  Now, I do have to say that there’s always unknowns, and no matter how much research you do, there are some things you can’t learn about a place until you move there.  You can minimize the uncertainty, however.  Answer these questions to figure out if this move is the right one for you.

1.  Can I afford to move?

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 This is the biggest question you need to ask, so might as well get it out of the way first!  Moving is expensive.  If you’re just moving a town or two over, it’s less so, but there are still a lot of costs to consider.  Are you driving to the new city?  How much will gas cost along the way?  Do you need a moving van?  Movers? Boxes and packing materials all cost money, too.  If you’re using a U-Haul or Penske truck, do you need a car carrier?  When you get there, are you moving straight into your new place?  Or are you doing your house hunting when you get there?  You’ll have to budget for hotels or rentals while you’re looking at homes if it’s the latter.

You’ll also need to find out what the costs are for transferring utilities and updating your information at the DMV (if you’re moving out of state, find out how long you have to get this done! In Oregon, it’s 30 days after you’ve moved).

So, now that you’ve deducted the costs of the move itself, ask yourself:

2. Can I afford to move there?

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 Not all cities are created equal, and that goes doubly for affordability.  Now, if you’re moving out of the San Francisco Bay Area or New York City, you can probably afford to live most places. But for the rest of us, checking out the cost of living in a new city is paramount. Even if you have a job lined up, you need to make sure it’ll pay the bills.  Portland was long heralded as a place “where young people go to retire” because it was feasible to work part time and still be able to pay their bills AND have spending money.  Those days are gone, but people still think of Portland in those terms, and then are surprised when they find that median rent alone is over $1600/month.
Plan a mock monthly budget and utilize median prices (Google is your friend!) for your needs before you start packing.  This will help minimize unexpected costs of living. Things like your car insurance may change depending on where you’re moving, so be sure to talk to insurance providers and the like to find out how your move will affect your payments.
If you’re dying to move to an area, but the city itself is out of reach, check out the suburbs. More cities are integrating public transit into their greater metropolitan area making living a little farther away more affordable and still accessible.

3. Do I know anyone in the area?

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Picking up and moving away from it all sounds great in theory, but the first few months after you’re in a new place can be very lonely.  You can absolutely make it out on your own in a new place and thrive; many people do it every day.  I will say, however, that having a point of contact somewhere in the vicinity is such a comforting feeling, even if you’re moving with another person.  I live 1000 miles away from my parents, but I’m only 50 miles away from my stepdad’s family. I don’t see them all that often, but when I make it down to visit, I feel welcomed, eat more food than I ever should (plus leftovers!), and get to have that sense of family that I don’t get every day.  It also eases my mind that if there is an emergency for whatever reason, family can get to me fairly easily.

Chances are, you know SOMEONE that lives near where you’re going.  Between high school and college, I think I have acquaintances in most major cities across the US.  Reach out to them before making your move, and you can at the very least pick their brain about the city.  If you’re comfortable, try to plan a meet up when you get to town.  It will help you feel like you’re not so alone.

 

4.  What is the Cultural Climate?

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Most people have a sense of this before they move, but it’s important to think about nonetheless.  Different regions have wildly different attitudes, and you don’t want to end up somewhere where your ideals and beliefs make you an outsider before you even get there.  Attitudes can change vastly in small areas as well; for instance, Portland is thought of as a very liberal city, but go just a few miles out of town and you’ll find rural, more conservative folk dominate the area.  You can even find big differences just within one city.  Now, I’ll be the first to say that political attitudes are not the end-all, be-all on what an area is like, but it is important to be aware of how people in general react, as you will be able to make an informed decision.

 

 5. What will I do when I get there?

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Obviously, if you’re working, you’ll need to find a job.  But it’s just as important to figure out what recreational activities your new home has to offer.  Many people move to Portland for the easy access to nature, but that’s far from all the city has to offer.  Again, Google will be your friend here, as you can search for any interests you have to find events and communities in the city.  If you’ve never heard of Meetup.com, it can be a life-saver for newbies in town to find new people and experiences.  There are so many groups to join, and most cities have at least one “New to ____” group specifically for people who have recently moved to the area.  I’ve met great people and tried all sorts of things I never thought I would through this website.  The human connection can’t be overstated, either.

 

I hope this has been helpful to you as you think of making your move to a new place.  And when you’re ready to buy a home in your new city, be sure to reach out to me!

Posted on November 15, 2016 at 12:26 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

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