Welcome my friends to my Moving Cross Country series, where you'll the find tips and tricks you need to make your move a success. No matter the motivation for your move, you should consider planning and preparing before moving cross country. Don’t worry! I am not here to lecture you, too. Believe me, I know what it’s like to be lectured. I am here to offer you my thoughts, my own personal experiences and maybe a helpful link or two.
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Why Did I Move Cross Country?
In case you haven't read about my story, let me sum it up. Back in 2011, I moved to Southern California from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My then boyfriend had just been offered a great new job, and our blossoming relationship was too good to give up. So, I followed.
Up to that point, I'd never lived outside Louisiana. I never thought I would or could live anywhere but Louisiana. But my newly found love of adventure and my love for my guy lead me to pack up my car and go West! And years later, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
What Did We Do to Prepare?
We knew that moving cross country would be tough, so we took action as soon as we could. About five months before our move we started researching, planning, and saving money. After all, Los Angeles is an expensive place to live!
Every chance we go we cut costs: making dinner at home, limiting frivolous purchases, selling furniture, and limiting entertainment and travel expenses. I found ways to make extra money by working overtime, selling unnecessary items, and cashing in unused sick time. By the time we moved, I'd put away a few thousand dollars just by making these lifestyle adjustments.
How Did I Find a Job?
By the time we moved, I'd been out of graduate school for five years. My professional career was a priority, and finding a job that would challenge me was paramount. So, I began searching and applying for jobs well in advance of moving cross country.
To find the right job, I relied on Indeed.com, my favorite site for finding quality employment in a variety of fields. I also went directly to the websites of agencies and organizations where I wanted to work to search for available positions.
Signing up for email updates ensured that I would get regular updates on potential new jobs, significantly reducing the amount of time I spent looking. That freed me up to spend more time updating my resume and drafting custom cover letters for each of the applications I generated.
Now, I knew no one would hire me until I arrived in Los Angeles months later. Simply put, candidates were needed long before I would be available.
But, applying forced me to learn the job market, to get familiar with the application processes, and to identify the stakeholders in the community. It also forced me to dust off my resume writing skills. Plus, my proactive approach got my name out into the Los Angeles job market.
Ultimately, I found a great job within thirty days of arriving in LA. An interested organization contacted me after in response to the resume I'd sent several months earlier. In the end, I got my dream job because I'd filled out an online application months before moving cross country. And for the record, I'm still there and making great money doing something I love!
How Did We Find a Place to Live?
I'm not sure if you're aware, but the Los Angeles metro area is HUGE! So, we knew finding the right place to live would take time. It had to be safe, affordable, and centrally located to our jobs.
The big problem was that I didn't know exactly where I'd be working. This complicated matters, for sure. We started looking for places we could afford on one salary in case it took me a while to find a job.
Before moving, we'd researched the cost of housing in Los Angeles, which helped us target budget-friendly areas. Learning the major freeways and thoroughfares also made our search much more efficient. We were able to rule out options and target others based on our research.
Luckily, a very gracious friend opened her home to us while we searched for an affordable place to live in Los Angeles. We spent countless hours looking for a safe, affordable apartment online. We searched Craig’s List, local classifieds, and sites like Westside Rentals. We scouted, toured, and applied.
After only two weeks, we found an affordable place to call home. All our hard work and research had paid off.
Be sure to check out your new city’s official website. Many times there are great resource pages to help you start planning your move.
What Have I learned Since Moving?
Without a doubt, I can say that moving cross country taught me so much about taking chances in life. I also learned that having a plan and knowing the answers to some of the big questions (see below) is important.
Also, moving cross country to Los Angeles has taught me a lot about my resiliency and inner strength. Being separated from all my friends and family has been hard, but I've developed some good coping skills to help me cope with the stress and homesickness that comes with a cross country move.
What Should You Ask Yourself Before Moving?
Now, I will say this: your parents are right…about some things. Wait, WHAT? There are some very real considerations you should make before moving cross country. You should probably have an idea of how you plan to pay for this move? Or how you will earn a living when you get there? Do you have a place to stay? What about friends or family to help you get settled? What area of the city are you hoping to live in? Will it be safe?
So, ask yourself this: do you have the emotional fortitude to be separated from all you know by 1000s of miles? And I'm not just talking about your friends and family. I am talking about all you knew about yourself, your culture, and your value base. At some point, your choice to move will shake your foundation. It could be when you least expect it, when you are at your weakest. And, believe it or not, it can be a good thing. Trust me.
We didn’t know the answers to all these questions, but we were at least THINKING about and TALKING about these things long before we took the plunge. We prioritized what was most important to us (a source of income, a place to stay) and formed a plan for the rest. But, in the end, the opportunity to "GO" was just too attractive, no matter how unplanned the path. So, we went.
What Actions Can You Take to Prepare?
Moving cross country is hard. It is scary. It is exciting. It takes planning and plenty of action. You will learn a lot about yourself and your worth. Here are a few key things to consider:
1) consider all your job options and do your research. You may have to compromise before your dream job becomes a reality.
2) Map out your short and long-term goals. What do you hope to accomplish by moving?
3) Start your job search before you move. You never know what you might find or who might find you.
4) Save, save, save. Having a few months of living expenses and an emergency fund is crucial.
5) Update up your resume and create a few cover letter templates (if applicable). Being ready makes applications a breeze.
6) Study your new city. Finding places to explore and making new friends is much easier once you arrive.
Remember, you can do this. But, you have to plan and prepare for bumps along the way.
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