Taking a job across the country was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my adult life.
While the prospects for greater upward mobility in my career, more money and a nice benefits package — including more vacation time and better insurance — definitely made the move worthwhile, leaving family and friends behind in order to chase career gold nearly 2,000 miles away was a scary and stressful idea.
I learned a few things along the way that I wanted to share. If I can help to minimize stress and anxiety during one of the most difficult tasks in your life, then it makes sense to share what I know in order to attempt to help a few of you along the way.
What Should I Take With Me?
The answer to that depends on a lot of factors.
- Is it a long-term move or a short-term gig that could lead you to another location after a few months?
- How much stuff do you have to begin with?
- Is there anything that doesn’t necessarily suit the new locale (surfboards in Colorado, downhill skis in Florida, etc.)?
The method I used when purging things from my house was asking myself how often I used this particular item. Once a year? Donate it!
Obviously, if you’re living in a three bedroom home with a wife and kids, you’re going to have more decisions to make than someone living in a studio apartment as a single person. Just take your time, start early and go through each item to determine whether it has a place in your new home.
Where Will I Live?
This is another point of stress and anxiety. For some, housing will be part of the relocation, or the job will at least set you up with a realtor whom they trust and knows the area well. For others — like me — you’re sort of on your own.
For me, I checked local Craigslist listings to see what I could afford and in what area. I checked neighborhood reports, crime statistics, school data and did a quick “drive” through Google’s street view in order to check out potential neighborhoods.
Now, I can’t make recommendations on where you should live, but I can tell you one that you should never do. Never put a deposit down for a place you like that you find on sites like Craigslist.
There are numerous scams that involve people in situations just like yours, and when they come to their new rental when they get to town, the place is already lived in, foreclosed or the landlord is nowhere to be found. Save yourself the trouble.
How Do I Get My Stuff There?
For me, looking into long distance moving companies was really the only option. I had a small car and didn’t intend to drive a large truck across the country by myself, all while towing my car behind.
Your situation could vary, and depending on what you take, it might very well fit in your car or SUV. Since mine was intended to be a permanent move, I was bringing a lot of my belongings and this option just didn’t work well for me.
How Do I Integrate Socially In a New Area?
This was another pain point for me. Friends at work were a great start, and the activities section on Craigslist was also a goldmine. I started playing volleyball and meeting in a local park each morning for yoga with some amazing people.
The anxiety was unjustified. I settled in within weeks and have a great new group of friends.
What if I Hate It?
Well, then you’ll have some decisions to make. I can’t help you much here, but I can tell you that hating a place and deciding to move home, or somewhere else is pretty far down on the “tragedy” scale.
Most people have the tendency to really forget how small some of these problems are in the grander scheme of things. Stay positive, and find your next adventure.
While there are no absolutes when it comes to moves of this magnitude, following these easy steps can certainly help to lighten your proverbial load. Just remember, it’s only stressful at first.
Eventually, you’ll settle into your new life in a new locale, and it’ll all start seeming relatively normal. Good luck!