So You Have to Uproot Your Life in Two Weeks or Less

I spent two and a half years waiting to get an email offering me a full-time job, salaried and with benefits. In the two weeks between the email and the start date, I managed to relocate my life ninety minutes south of where I was currently living. That’s no small feat; even moving into a college dorm room is a hassle. But I pulled it off flawlessly. So can you.

If you’re not currently participating in the relocation Olympics, here’s how to prep like a pro:

  • Research the area in which you’re job hunting: What’s the cost of living? Will you need a car or use public transportation? What’s the typical commute like? What are the typical amenities in an apartment (e.g., laundry facilities, full-size kitchen)?
  • Make a list of apartment features that are important to you and those that are a bonus (e.g., pet-friendly, short commute, in-unit laundry). Rank them so you know what’s non-negotiable.

What to do once you’ve scored the first-round interview:

  • Start looking online at apartments in the area. I highly recommend websites like Make a spreadsheet so you can compare the features of the apartments that appeal to you. Note things like: rent, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, apartment features, complex/community features, and length of commute (Google Maps can help you calculate this).
  • Once you’ve compiled your spreadsheet, review it, starting with the category that matters most to you. I wanted a commute under thirty minutes that didn’t involve driving on the interstate. I reordered my spreadsheet so that the shorter commutes were at the top and threw out the apartments with long commutes on the interstate. I continued to go through the categories and reorder the apartments until I had a top five list.
  • After your first-round interview (assuming you go to the office), take some time to drive around the area. Visit your top five apartment complexes and see what the neighborhood is like. Take some pictures if you want, but pay attention to the vibe you get from each area.

What to do once you’ve made it to the final round of interviews:

  • Start making lists and doing research! This was how I handled my pre-interview anxiety. Make a list of apartment items you’ll need to get and do some online window shopping to get a sense of how much money you’ll be spending when it comes time to make the move. Binge-read articles about managing your finances and being thrifty. Educate yourself so when it’s go time you will rock it!
  • Schedule several apartment tours after your interview. At this point, you should have narrowed down your apartment choices to no more than three. If you live far away from where you’re interviewing, extend the trip by a day or two so you have time to properly scope out your potential future residences.
  • When you tour the apartment, come prepared with a list of questions, have the phone memory and battery life required to take photos of the apartments you tour, and take note of the customer service you receive. While a friendly leasing agent or landlord is great, an efficient and communicative one is even better, especially when you have two weeks or less to relocate your entire existence.

Now that you’ve got a job and have an actual start date:

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  • Get your apartment ASAP. Pretty much everything else relies on you having somewhere to put your stuff. I picked up the keys to my apartment three days after I got the job offer email.
  • Get your renter’s insurance lined up. This might be something you have to do before you can get the keys to your apartment.
  • Set up any utilities your complex doesn’t take care of for you–electricity, internet, etc. Better to have them there before you move in than a week after.
  • If you’re hiring a moving company, start making phone calls as soon as you’ve secured an apartment. Customer service and how soon they could move me where the factors that quickly narrowed down what moving company I went with. (Pro-tip: Moving on a weekday is cheaper.)
  • If it’s possible to make day trips to your apartment, start lugging breakables and other personable items you don’t want the movers messing with or potentially breaking. Not only is this a great way to adjust to your new place, but you won’t have to worry about locating your dishes or finding your pajamas the night of your big move. These trips are also a great time to assess your apartment for what maintenance requests you need to place.

The ideal moving day:

  • Your scheduled moving day gives you a minimum of two days before you start work.
  • All of the furniture you moved is in its place before you go to bed.
  • You have a general idea of where everything is so unpacking won’t turn into a scavenger hunt.
  • Your kitchen is mostly unpacked, you have pajamas for tonight and clothes for tomorrow, your bed is made, and at least one bathroom is put together enough that you can do everything you usually do. (A shower liner, toilet paper, soap, towels, and your essential toiletries are the baseline requirements.)
  • Your TV(s) are set up and all of your devices are connected to the internet. Seriously, you will want that sweet, sweet wifi when you begin to unpack all your stuff. My unpacking spanned four seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Your first month in your apartment:

  • Finish unpacking. Do not let that one box of random stuff sit in the corner of your room for all eternity. There’s probably something in there that you will need at some point in the future.
  • Settle into your apartment. Decorate. Make a list of furniture and decor items you’d like to get at some point.
  • Get a local bank account and a library card.
  • If you’ve moved to a new state, you’ll probably have a month or two to register your car and get a new driver’s license. Google that. You’ll also need to move your car insurance to an in-state office, but only once you’ve registered in the state.
  • Alert everyone and anyone of your change of address.
  • Pop some champagne! You did it! Hooray!
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