Moving to another city, state, cross-country, or internationally can be a huge undertaking physically, emotionally, and financially. Moving from Boston to Los Angeles in 2015 was the biggest move I had ever done. It took over a year to plan which gave me time to research, prepare, and evaluate my current situation. When making any large changes in your life preparation is the key to it being successful. To help prepare you for your next move, here are my top 5 financial tips:
Put away $10,000 - This sounds like a lot but it will be your saving grace when the inevitable random expenses come up. One normal cost that you will experience will be housing. If you are renting, you will need first and last month's rent, security deposit, and if you have a pet sometimes pet deposit or pet rent. Let use Los Angeles as an example - For the first and last month's rent as well as a security deposit you are looking at about $3,000 - $6,000 depending on where you live in the city. Keep in mind Los Angeles is in the top 10 of the most expensive cities to live in so your cost may not be that high. Besides housing, you will need to look at utility bills (gas, electric, internet), food, and transportation. Planning for at least 3 to 6 months of expenses with no frills will be vital to your survival in a new city.
Research areas to live in - Finding an area that is safe and affordable can be a challenge. Don't be afraid to get creative by finding the right situation. Many people in Los Angeles will rent a room or a separate unit that is a part of their home. In other cities such as New York, looking into the lower part of New York State (Westchester, White Plains...etc.), Connecticut, or New Jersey can give you a bigger space and cheaper on the pocketbook.
Be realistic about your job commute - Understanding the traffic and public transit in the city is vital for your sanity. If you decided to live further from work, but sure to understand which way heavy traffic flows for your commute and how it is going to affect your time. When I lived in Boston I was able to commute to work easily when I lived in Cambridge. I had multiple ways to get through various subway lines and buses, but when I move farther out from the city to Braintree my commute went from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Being real about the time you may lose to save money is a struggle no matter what city you live in.
Have no debt - Debt is a weight that hangs over your head. If you have debt and do not have to move wait. If you are moving for a job see if your job will cover the expenses. This will give you more flexibility when you make it a move and when the inevitable murphy's law happens it won't be so stressful to deal with at the moment.
Develop a job plan - It is not always possible to move with a job, but having a plan to make money is your best chance of survival. Never think that is a job is beneath you. It is easy to make money, especially in a large city. There are endless contract opportunities in the digital age such as delivery apps (i.e. Shipt, Instacart) as well as rideshare apps (i.e. Uber, Lyft...etc.). Think of these apps as a way to supplement your income until you find a job that you love and want.
Moving is stressful. Be real with yourself about the challenges you are going to face and how to best navigate them.