4 Things to Consider Before Relocating

Do you dream of moving closer to the beach? Or perhaps you need to move to a different city for your dream job. Or you’re ready to make a big move to be closer to a significant other. Whatever the case, deciding to relocate is an important and exciting change in your life. However, it’s a lot more complicated than just moving across town.

RELATED: How to Adjust to the City After a Big Move

I hate the cold, so I would spend most of the winters in my Pennsylvania home shivering and feeling miserable. I dreamed of sunshine and warmth. After years of talking about moving, I finally decided to take the leap a few years ago. While I thought about the cost of movers and a deposit on a new apartment, I didn’t realize all of the other expenses and issues that would come up when I was relocating.

Take a moment and learn from my experience. Before you plan a big move, here are four factors you should consider:

1. Moving expenses

Unless you have the good fortune of a new company fronting the bill for your move, moving can be extraordinarily expensive and stressful. In fact, a move to a new state costs more than $5,600, on average. I overlooked little things, but over time, they added up to be a real headache. Dealing with unexpected expenses on top of the logistics of moving stressed me out and led me to feel completely overwhelmed. It wasn’t the mindset to have when starting a new job, and it took a while for me to figure things out and calm down.

I didn’t really think about the cost of my vehicle and driving-related expenses. Transferring my car over to a Florida title and tag was shockingly pricey. Between a new license, title, and taxes, I spent more than $500 at the DMV. I also found that my insurance premiums increased, despite not making any changes to my policy. Simply moving to a new area boosted my rates.

To avoid sticker shock in your new home, you should plan for the following expenses:

  • Movers: Professional movers to both load and unload your stuff can make your life much easier, but, depending on your location, it can cost you $400 and up for each portion of the trip, and you also have to factor in a tip.
  • Truck or transport: The mover cost only covers the labor. If you want to have someone transport your items for you, that can add several thousand dollars to your bill. I opted to use a POD, a mobile storage unit that the company picks up and ships to your destination. It was much cheaper than traditional moving companies. But even the POD cost $1,500.
  • Car expenses: If you’re bringing a car with you, expect to pay extra to transfer the tag to a new state and to get a new license. Because insurance rates can vary depending on your location, you could see your premiums skyrocket. If you need to park in a garage, you might also have to budget for parking lot fees.
  • Setting up utilities: Depending on where you live, you might have to pay a fee to get your utilities turned on. And if you have a low credit score, you may even have to put down a deposit. If you need cable and internet (how else will you watch “Game of Thrones”?), you’ll also need to pay a service fee to have it set up in your home, and you might need to purchase or rent a router, too.

2. Cost of living

The cost of living can have a big impact on how valuable your salary is in the new locale. If you’re moving from a rural area to a city, you could see your household costs, like rent or groceries, skyrocket. Or you could get more spending power if the cost of living is lower.

I moved from Philadelphia to Orlando. My salary was almost exactly the same at my new job: In both positions, I made about $35,000. But because Orlando has a lower cost of living than Philadelphia, my money went further. While my salary was the same, it felt like I received a big raise.

You can use this cost of living tool to compare how far your salary will go in a new area.

3. Area safety

When you’re moving across state lines, finding out if an area is safe is tricky. Without knowing the city or town well, you could end up renting a home that turns out to be on a street that’s a hotbed of illegal activity.

Before looking at homes, check out resources like StreetAdvisor, which gives you detailed analysis of different neighborhoods, right down to individual streets.

4. Local connections

When I moved, I didn’t know anyone but my husband. While I didn’t think about it at first, I did get a little lonely, especially around the holidays. Facetiming my family on Christmas morning just wasn’t the same, so holidays felt hollow at first until I created new traditions.

It also affected me professionally. My lack of connections made it harder for me to find a mentor and build a professional network.

When you know you’re going to move, check out Meetup or Facebook for neighborhood groups to get to know the locals and introduce yourself. You might be able to join groups or informal gatherings at the local cafe, which will help you build new friendships.

If you have a hobby, that passion can help you meet people, as well. If you love exercise, you could join a local gym or informal running group. For those who are foodies, check out local events, such as restaurant openings or food truck nights. You’ll get a chance to interact with all new groups, helping you establish relationships.

You can also use LinkedIn to help establish professional connections. Most cities have professional groups, and there are often niche groups in certain industries in your area. By joining them and interacting in discussions, you can get to know others and build your own network.

Adjusting to a whole new place

Moving away from everything you know is a momentous and terrifying idea. But for me, it was well worth it. There has not been a single day where I missed Pennsylvania. Orlando feels like home to me. I love the year-round sunshine and warmth and how I can get to multiple beaches within an hour. I love that my home is beautiful and costs half of what I paid in Pennsylvania. It’s the best place for my family.

Whether or not to relocate is a big decision. But if you do your homework ahead of time, create a moving budget, and have a plan to meet new people and get involved in your new community, you can make relocating one of the best decisions in your life.

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