Relocating to another state is no small task. Purging, packing, organizing, feelings of anxiety and the general uncertainties of moving to a new city can all be overwhelming. Add kids into the mix and you’re also dealing with helping them get adjusted to a new location, new school and new friends.
There are so many unknowns in the equation, but the good news is there are a few challenges we do know about:
- Resources - It’s likely that if you’re moving because of a job, your company won’t be giving you any relocation support during this rollercoaster economy. Whether it’s moving expenses, school district reputation or suggestions for family-friendly neighborhoods, you should expect to find these things out for yourself.
- Network – Chances are that your network of family and friends is small to nonexistent in your new location.
- Knowledge - Even if you’ve been to your new city before, it’s never quite the same as actually living there and knowing your way around. You can do some research, but you’ll be a bit of a tourist for a while.
Now that you know what to expect, there are a few ways to prepare for your upcoming move so you can make a smooth transition to your new location. The following tips are based on the expectation that you will make at least one visit to your new city prior to your official move.
Before Your Visit
Search the Internet for local newspapers and news stations to get a feel for what’s important to area residents. How far away are hospitals, restaurants, movie theaters and more from the neighborhoods you’re considering? A helpful resource is Picket Report, which allows you to see demographics, schools, crime statistics, retail, and lifestyle data simply by entering a zip code.
Research home prices and contact a mortgage lender who specializes in relocation to determine how much home you can afford. Obtain a pre-approval letter and locate a realtor in the new city who will ask questions in advance so they can show you homes appropriate to your needs during your trip.
If you have children, research the school district to help you narrow your home search. Go online to evaluate academic and athletic programs and find out what types of after-school activities are available.
During Your Visit
Once you’ve scheduled a house-hunting trip, it’s important to know the measurements of your current furniture if you plan on bringing it with you. You’ll be able to determine if a home’s layout and design will work with what you already own.
While you’re in town, arrange to make a personal visit to schools of interest as well as daycares, senior living facilities or any other places of importance to your family.
After Your Visit
Don’t feel like you have to make a decision on a permanent home right away. Many rental agencies and apartment complexes allow you to rent on a month-to-month basis, giving you a chance to get more familiar with the area and be comfortable with your decisions.
Nonetheless, there’s much to do and several moving checklists available to help you stay on track.
Pack up as much as you can and live with the bare essentials until it’s time to move. Portable moving containers are a big help. They come in various sizes and will be delivered to your new place when you’re ready. Ship a box of things you’ll need ahead of your departure such as a few changes of clothes, towels, cooking utensils and an inflatable mattress to tide you over until the rest of your belongings arrive.
One caveat is, don’t pack important papers – keep them with you! This includes birth certificates, your marriage license, social security cards and anything that’s needed to prove residency. If you have school-age children, give permission to the current school to send academic records to the new school. In addition, get copies of all medical and immunization records for everyone in the family, so your new doctors can have a seamless view of your medical history.
Determine all the places you need to contact to cancel service in your old home (phone, utilities, lawn care, etc). Your realtor should be able to provide you with a list of all the services you’ll need in your new home such as cable, phone, electric, gas and more. Arrange for these utilities to be turned on the day before you arrive.
Last, but not least, plan to arrive a few days before your start date at work or first day of school. Get some of the basics set up at home and introduce yourself to neighbors! Drive around – find out the best routes to work and school and locate a convenience store and pharmacy. It definitely takes time to get acclimated after relocating to another state, but these basic tips can help make the transition less hectic as you start a new chapter in life.