Sara Stringer is a freelance writer with a passion for all things eco and family-friendly. You can find her on twitter @sarasblogging
When I moved to Arizona to attend college, I was just a student looking for a chance to get ahead. I had no idea I’d plant myself there and stay. I was a native Californian, so the summers weren’t that bad to me, and I was close enough to home that I could visit. Still, if I had to do it all again, I’d have vetted the location better and reconsidered my options.
Whether you’re relocating for work or for school, make sure that you thoroughly check out the place where you want to live first. There’s nothing worse than uprooting your whole life for a big move, only to wind up regretting the decision because of things you could have foreseen. Moving is also a good time to purge all your “stuff” via a garage sale, or even donating. If you do have a sale, you’ll earn a few extra dollars to spend on the move and you’ll have less stuff to pack, which will be great for your sanity and save you on moving supplies.
Here are some things to consider when planning your move:
Visit the Place
If possible, you should visit the place. When I did this, I learned that Arizona was a haven of sunshine, and the state has seen a huge increase in solar adoption rates as customers look to shave money from their power bills. I also learned I could lease or own solar panels, so options to go green were very affordable.
Concerns like weather, privacy and noise level are all pretty easy to resolve if you do a drive by in person. If there’s a specific area where you want to end up, head there and scout the neighborhood thoroughly. Spend more than a weekend there if you can, especially if you’re moving for work.
Plan for the Weather
The temperature here drops pretty low at night and in the mornings, so you’re never really sure whether you want to go out in shorts or a jacket. Use the months or years leading up to your move to research that kind of thing and prepare for it. If I moved from California to New York, I’d find winters there to be jarring to say the least. But the move to Arizona was much less of a temperature shock.
Instead of air conditioning, I use a swamp cooler to cut down on the power bill and keep my rooms cool. Solar is a popular alternative, especially in places like Florida where sunshine is abundant, but sometimes you just have to let some air flow into the room. Open windows on opposite sides of each room so drafts can cross through, carrying warm air out and creating constant circulation.
Read what other residents have to say about the weather. The more you know about your environment, the better you can plan for it.
While I went to ASU, my parents paid for a storage unit rental so I could conserve space in my dorm. There are a million options these days but Storage.com has a nice little feature that let’s you narrow your search down to just Phoenix storage, or whichever city you’re closest to. Just remember to take measurements of your items. You’d be surprised how much you can fit in a 5’5’ room if you know how to pack.
Also, in Los Angeles, where I’m from, space is quickly becoming a commodity. The city is far from New York’s sardine can status, but the cost of real estate was much lower in Arizona. On my move to Phoenix, I stored my things in reusable crates. They were a bit more expensive, but I can store them easily in my garage now and they have lasted for years.
The relationships you maintain may take a hit when you move across state lines. You’ll form new bonds, which is a nice comfort, but it can be a poor replacement for the people you’ve grown up with or known for an extended time. Be sure that you’re moving for the right reasons, and that you tie up any loose ends before you leave. Keep an open line of communication with your friends, and invite them to visit. Plan for these events and make them special, as you may find your time with them to be more valuable.
Consider the Environment
When you’re planning for your moving expenses, try to take the environment into consideration and lower your footprint. Small changes to your packing, like using recycled materials or rentable crates or boxes, can make a big difference in your footprint. Ask your moving company if they use eco-friendly vans and trucks that use biodiesel, ethanol or other fuel alternatives to haul your things, or even if they purchase carbon offsets to make a difference in their emissions.
And when you’re moving out of your old place, or even into your new one, you’ll probably have to do some major cleaning. Don’t forget that citrus is a great natural cleaner before you leave your old place. It saves money on costly chemical cleaners and will reduce the amount of toxins that contribute to poor indoor air quality.
Plan for Cost of Living
When I moved, with lower real estate costs came an overall reduction in my cost of living. In LA, everything is priced at a premium. A meal at McDonalds can run you $10 if you’re not careful. Arizona had a much more laid back and affordable lifestyle, but for anyone looking to move somewhere like New York or Connecticut, expect a big increase in cost of living because of housing and pretty much everything else. Got a job in Chicago or any major city? Then you’ll also have plan for parking, which can get extremely expensive. You’ll either have to budget for it, or plan to commute to work via public transportation — which is the greener option anyway.
Locate Job Opportunities
What job opportunities exist in the region? What’s drawing you there in the first place? If you’re moving far from your current location, you need to have a survival plan, particularly if you don’t have a friend or family member to rely upon for help if things get rough. Getting marooned in a strange and new city is difficult enough without a car full of stuff and no place to go. In most cases, you’d be better off securing a job — or some other means of earning a living — before you move.