One of the biggest decisions, as you prepare for a big move, is where you will live. However, many people fail to realize that whether you are advancing your career or just want to experience a new place, the entire moving process requires a substantial amount of planning.
Making a choice without the proper amount of planing can limit your options, and just picking the first affordable apartment you see in a new place can lead to suboptimal outcomes if you don’t take all of the below items into consideration. Here are some important things to consider in your moving process that will help you avoid the most common mistakes.
The biggest times for moving are in spring and summer, often around school changes or the beginning and end of school years. If you move to a new city outside these seasons, all services and the rent itself will be much cheaper. Movers will discount their price, landlords will offer 1 month of free rent, and everything else will be more favorable to you, the renter.
In addition, you need to start thinking ahead of time about locations, maybe farther ahead of time than you think!
- Start setting up automatic alerts, such as a zapier automation with zillow or craigslist about 90 days before you plan to move; you want to get a feeling for what the best and most interesting places to live are, as well as what the rents per square foot are in different parts of the city.
- At 60 days out, you can choose your neighborhood so that you can focus in on a particular set of apartments or a particular combination of the best location within that neighborhood and other features such as amenities, closeness to grocery stores, places of interest, etc… You can get a feel for different neighborhoods on these pages for San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Silicon Valley.
- Finally, at about a month out, try to reserve a unit; this way, if nothing is immediately available, you have a month of wiggle room to get on a waitlist.
When we are comfortable in a place we have lived for a while, we get to be a bit choosy about who we hang out with, and what we do with them. One of the most challenging parts about changing a city is that this attitude can make it hard to meet new people. Rather than being choosy, say yes to anyone who asks you to hang out. Did you have an interesting conversation with someone you just met? Ask them to hang out again.
If you are looking for work, you can attend some interesting networking events, joining clubs to make friends, or take the kinds of fitness classes you like. Remember: most people enjoy social interactions, so the downside risk is very low. Here are some great ways to meet people:
- Be honest that you are on the lookout for friends; ask people to set you up. Adults may seem like they “have it all together,” but most adults welcome the opportunity to connect those they care about to a new friend… or new potential romantic partner! If you can, use your current social network to locate people who live in the city where you are moving. Ask your friend-in-common to connect you two. It’s a good idea to suspend your initial judgements. You never know which new acquaintance can introduce you to someone awesome. One quick way to expand your circle of people-who-can-introduce-you-to-people is to live with roommates; they make those first introductions so much easier and help you spread your wings here in a new town. Many people find that Tinder and Bumble are great ways to quickly and easily meet new romantic partners and friends.
- Spend time pursuing your interests. Sites like Eventbrite.com and Meetup.com offer the opportunity to specifically meet other people who love needlework or Ultimate Frisbee. Yes, many of us stopped joining clubs years ago, but there is something really nice about getting to scope out a new social scene where you know you already have at least one interest in common. If you want to really find your next challenge, try a group that isn’t connected to an interest you already have, but rather one that seems really awesome! You may have to ask for help, which feels odd, but you’ll make a lot of friends as the experienced group members are many times eager to introduce new people to an activity they are passionate about.
- Choose a comfortable place. The best option for you will be a place that can be your comfort zone. If your apartment has excellent amenities and you feel great spending time in it, it will make you more likely to do things that are slightly out of your comfort zone when outside. Many people see the value in starting out with roommates, who you can cook with or socialize with, to get accustomed to your new city.
- Get to know your neighbors. Once you’ve got your spot and are making a few friends, you should also tap into the resource of potential friends all around you: your neighbors! Whether your apartment building has many units or only a few, you’ll find that you pass someone in the hallway frequently, and a smile and a “hello!” can go a long way. If your neighbors are new to the area, they will probably be looking to meet new people. If they have been around for a long time, they can have excellent tips or recommendations. When you are willing to be the first one to reach out, neighbors often are quite surprised and pleased: you may find yourself with the need for a gym buddy or a person to pick up your packages, and having these neighbors to turn to is invaluable. Another option is to join Nextdoor, the social network for neighbors, and give that friendly wave and hello digitally.
Here are some important questions to consider when picking out your location within a big city. You get to choose your own priorities, but don’t just do it based on feelings; pop out Waze or Google Maps and really map how far the distances are to the places that are important to you. First of all, determine what it is that you care about:
- A quick, easy commute?
- An easy trip to your after-work gym or hangout space?
- Centrality to a friend group?
- Being Downtown for weekend entertainment and fun?
Don’t just map out one of these activities; try to see how many times you visit your favorite places per month, and see what commute times will be required from each potential apartment. You’ll find that many times tradeoffs are involved, but by going through this exercise you will get a much better idea of the total commute time as compared to just looking at where your work is.
To go along with your chosen location, pay attention to whether you’ll need a car, public transit, or a brisk walk for your daily commute. Here are some points to consider carefully:
- What does your commute look like, given the job you have or want to have? By trying out your commute and seeing what it really feels like before you sign a lease, you determine whether your commute will give you joy or be a burden. You’ll also see how early you have to get up each morning to not be late on your job. Get to know the mobile applications for public transit, since they can often help you know when public transit is coming in real time, and take into account delays.
- What is the parking situation in your city? Many downtowns have astronomical parking rates, but the insiders know how to make parking manageable. Figure out what are the street cleaning times, parking lots, and any regulations that might have been different in your last city. You’d be surprised: even San Francisco, a city with very expensive parking, has some hours and places where parking is free.
You may discover that, between commute and parking, your car is more trouble than it’s worth. You should evaluate what you are paying for the car (take into account all costs – lease, insurance, maintenance, parking, gas, etc…), and then look at what you could get with that money if you used Uber, Lyft, Getaround, or Zipcar. You may be surprised by how much you can save while getting the peace of mind of not having to care for a car in a bustling city. Even if a car was essential in your last city, take this move as the opportunity to reevaluate.
Who doesn’t love food? You want to know what is the optimal setup to get your culinary needs taken care of. Pick a location to live where a great grocery store is within easy distance of your place. You may need to spend some time getting to know which food places are available around you that have the things not generally available in your grocery store. Get to know farmer’s markets, butchers, neighborhood corner stores, grocery outlets, ethnic food stores and places that will be open in the middle of the night. When your new job gets crazy, make sure you also have resources like Instacart, Amazon Fresh, and Uber Eats available at your fingertips.
It’s much cheaper to prepare food at home than to eat out or order prepared food, but you likely won’t have the energy to do it if you don’t have a good setup and a well researched plan.
Living with others makes handling the food situation much easier. You can take turns shopping, cooking and doing the cleanup, and communal eating is always more fun than eating alone in front of the TV.
The first few months in a new place always require some adjusting. Try to limit the negative self-talk that tells you that moving was a mistake by comparing all the bad things in the new place to all the good things in your old place. It’s natural to be a little less social in the first few months in a new city, but things tend to get much better with time. Before you decide whether the move was a good idea or bad, take it easy, give yourself some time and only evaluate after a couple of months. All good things are difficult at first, but chances are, you will be much happier after all the dust has settled.
Just take it from these guys – here are some images from our residents having fun together in their HomeShare buildings. You can also be part of our amazing community. To reserve a unit, click here.
The HomeShare team