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Relocation Tips When Moving to a New City

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: August 10, 2016

Relocating to a new city or state can be one of the most exciting, yet most stressful events that people go through in their lives. Packing, moving, changing residences, meeting new people — for many people the process is fraught with chaos, disorientation, and a feeling of being out of control. Moving within the same city is certainly no small task, but moving to a new state or region is particularly stressful.

Everything changes and the simple comforts you took for granted, such as favorite restaurants and supermarkets, are now gone and filled with apprehension and fear. It might be a new career opportunity that was the catalyst for relocating your family to another city; thus, not only do you have the stress of the relocation process and associated adjustments, but a new job to acclimate to as well. Factors such as a partner's career, the effect on the children's educational and recreational activities, and financial constraints are all major considerations involved in the relocation process. With all these things to deal with, why would anyone want to move?

Relocation Tips

Upon researching for writing this article, I note that there are probably thousands of websites that give list after "checklist" of "things to plan and do when moving". So I decided not to recreate that here. This list of tips will certainly contain some typical moving items but I tried to collect useful suggestions more geared toward "significant" moves, such as out of area/county/state. The type of move where you have to do a little more research and upfront legwork to make the transition go smoothly, relieve the stress of relocation and turn your move into a successful endeavor.... anyway, hope it helps just a bit!

  • Familiarize Yourself with the Local Chamber of Commerce. They can provide you with maps of the area and also relevant business opportunities and job listings. To find the website for the Chamber of Commerce in the area you are relocating, perform a "google" or keyword search using the phrase "Chamber of Commerce". Along the same lines, another great source of information is the local newspaper: find it online if possible and subscribe to it. Even if you read the local paper for just a few weeks, it may give you a feel for the community, people, social culture and issues that concern and enhance people's lives in the area.
  • Consider "Time of Year" When Planning Your Move. There is a "high season" for real estate and moving, and it is typically late spring/early summer (area contingent to some degree, of course). Depending on whether you are buying a home, selling yours, renting, have kids in school, etc, you'll want to try to plan the optimum time considering these aspects. If you have children, you will need to try to make your move when it will have the least impact on their school schedule; typically summer break. However, as different areas of the country may have varying vacation schedules, you will want to contact the school you are considering to confirm their scheduled breaks. If you need to sell a home in the current market, if possible take advantage of the "high" season for your area.
  • Find a Good Real Estate Agent. A real estate professional can be a great resource as he or she should have a thorough understanding of the area you are planning to move to. Additionally, they should have insight on the area's job market, schools, recreational opportunities and may be able to give you names of career counselors or just help you feel comfortable in your new surroundings. How do you go about finding one who is good? Well, the traditional way is finding one through referrals; friends, family, co-workers, etc. But if you are moving to a new area, this method may not be an option. You'll probably have to do your research online to find a local agent; of course they are all over the internet like vultures. Once you find a few potential candidates, interview them in the same way you would if you were in the same city. Maybe you have a trusted real estate agent you've used in your "old" residence that you could ask for a referral.
  • Plan a Research Trip. Hopefully, you've already visited the place you are planning to move to. But if not, you probably want to do a scouting trip a couple months or so before you are planning the actual move. While it is certainly possible to arrange a new residence (either a rental, or even the purchase of a home sight-unseen) I wouldn't recommend it. Unfortunately, using the internet exclusively to shop for a new residence may leave you stuck in an area that is undesirable (but the home sure looks great; at least, it did in the pictures!). You really need to be able to see the neighborhood and get a feel for whether it is a fit for your family. The second best thing, if you cannot be there in person to view the potential home or apartment selections, is to have a trusted friend, family member, or real estate professional view the prospects for you and provide feedback and recommendations based on the needs and requirements that you have outlined. If you are stuck with internet, pictures, video and relying on other's opinions and recommendations, make sure you try to use google maps fairly new Google Maps function to see your potential new home; it gives you a perspective like you are standing right in front of it, looking up and down the street where you may eventually live.
  • Address Your Personal Paperwork. By this we mean things such as licenses, identification, insurance, medical records, etc. Obviously, you will have to do an address change on everything in your life (that's a pain!) but the critical things involve your identity, health and well-being; so inform your health insurance company as applicable (you'll need to select/identify new doctors), get copies of your medical records from your Dr.'s, get a local driver's license and register you vehicle in your new state (and auto insurance, of course), investigate local pet immunization and licensing requirements as necessary, get your child registered for school (get copies of any school, immunization records, etc) as applicable. Not to over stress this, but if you've connected with a good real estate agent will also have all the main information you need on setting up your new life, including a checklist of who to call and where to go to set up utilities and get a new driver's license.
  • Create a Moving Plan And Timeline. Sit down, take a breathe, and create a list with a timeline for getting things done. As with all moves, there are so many things you need to do both before and after you relocate into your new home. Make a list and divide it into three categories: immediate, secondary and future (post-move) tasks. What are all the steps that need to happen to reach this point and by when? Jot down each thing you need to do with a due date, allowing ample time to set up each. Set your own timetable because you are the boss of this project and the only person you have to please is yourself (and your spouse, family, dog....). Most importantly, don't push yourself by setting unrealistic goals. Moving is a process and it will take time for you to complete it successfully.
  • Find a Professional Moving Company. Take the time to research or get a referral for a good one. A good mover may be found through friends, family, acquaintances and your real estate agent. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or local Chamber of Commerce where you're moving. Get references and we recommend finding a major moving company that has offices in both your current and new town. Pack all items that cannot be replaced and bring them with you in your car or on the plane. These include important financial papers, family photos, love letters, special jewelry, etc.Do not leave anything that you cannot live without in the hands of the movers; videotape and/or take pictures of your valuable items prior to boxing them if you are entrusting them to movers.
  • Downsize Before You Move. Weed out all the unnecessary items that you haven't used in a long time. Give it to charity, have a garage sale, sell it on craigslist, give it to a friend. Why expend the energy to move it or pay the movers to do so; they do charge on the basis of weight and distance, after all.

Planning and transitioning through a relocation is one heck of a task; it's taxing on the mind, body and spirit. And once you finally arrive at your new destination, it really only just begins; you get to relearn the "practical everyday stuff", like where your house is in relation to the schools, what the best pizza place is, and where the movie theaters are. Next there's the challenge of meeting new friends and learning the new social norms associated with each area of the country, which can be amazingly different. Following the steps above can hopefully help reduce the stress of your move, and make it a successful endeavor. Remember that a good real estate agent can be a major asset for assisting you in many of these tasks, so take advantage of this fact if at all possible.