There’s nothing quite as exciting as packing up and moving cross-country to a different city. There’s also nothing more panic-inducing than packing up and moving cross-country to a different city. The possibilities and challenges combine to make for a very stressful, yet rewarding experience. New opportunities and friends you haven’t met yet await in a land ripe for adventure and discovery. But how do you make it not-so-anxiety-ridden? Well, here’s a place to start…

Social Media

The world is undoubtedly more connected now than ever before. Your friends from high school can be scattered literally anywhere in the world and you would still have a way of reaching them. While you may not be on Best Buds For Life terms with the friendly acquaintances, the option to send a message asking for advice is always available to you. Reach out and ask about the area, commutes, neighborhoods, cost, etc. How did they find their place? What do they love/hate about their current living situation? Tips on what NOT to do, anything they can give insight to is of value. And if you don’t know anyone personally who lives there, you can always throw out a general “Anyone ever visited X for an extended amount of time?” and see what answers you get. It won’t be the same in-depth knowledge as a resident of the city, but it’s more than what you had before.

Property Company/Realtor Sites

If you’re moving into an apartment, you’re in luck. Every management company will have up-to-date information on their available units and the surrounding area. For rental properties not managed by a company, subscription-based sites are everywhere. In LA there’s West Side Rentals. Sites like this will give you basic info for free (neighborhood, price, walkability, a photo or sometimes more), or you can pay the subscription fee and get access to landlord contact info, more specific details, and even set up viewings (really only useful if you’re already in the area). Even if you don’t subscribe, these sites can be helpful in familiarizing yourself with the area and price ranges. If you’re buying a property though, you need a realtor in your corner same as if you were just moving down the street.

Exploratory Trips

Depending on where you’re going and where you’re coming from, this may or may not be an available option. But without a doubt, the absolute best way to be confident in your move and finding your new home is to take a trip and explore the city. You want at least 3 days to run around, a week if you can afford it. You won’t be able to “see the city” like you would try to on a vacation, but there will be plenty of time for that once you’ve moved. If you are able to take a trip to your new destination, however, make sure your focus is on point by having these steps planned out in advance:

  1. A Place To Stay. If you’ve got friends in the area, ask to crash on their couch. If you’ve got family – even better. If you know no one, find a hotel you trust anywhere in the city and book it. If you’re moving for work, you know where you’ll need to be most of the time. Pick a place away from your soon-to-be new work location. (Stay with me, explanation to follow.)
  2. A Place To Visit. Hop online a day or two before the trip and pick 3-4 currently available houses/apartments that you can visit while you’re in town. Choose a variety of places to check out that are both near to work and farther away. If you’re moving somewhere like LA and you work on the West Side pick a place in the Valley. Properties vary drastically in what we’ll call Bang for Your Buck from area to area. The price of rent for a Two Bed, Two Bath in Sherman Oaks would only get you One Bed, One Bath at best in Brentwood, but the commute… Dante’s Seventh Circle of hell ain’t got nothin’ on the 405 North between 4 and 7 pm. (Or any other freeway in that and other insane cities for that matter.) Cheaper rent means more for Savings and Doings, but your sanity should also always be in consideration. Which brings us to…
  3. A Way To Get Around. Anticipating how you’ll get around once you’re there also aids in the decision making. New York City is a walking city. Los Angeles is a driving city. Whatever your main mode of transportation will be, use that as your main mode of travel on your trip. Rent a car so you know what driving will be like as you travel from apartment to work, the other house to work, and the other place to work… Find your subway or bus routes so you know what your daily trot is going to feel like and how much time it will take. This is also why it’s important to look at 3-4 different locations in relation to your office. It’s easy to think, “This is where I’ll be working. This is where I should stay.” And yes, you want to explore that option. But as mentioned earlier, what you get in relation to what you pay for in rent can change where you opt to live. Knowing all the strings that come attached to that choice  – or at least having an idea of it – will affect the choosing. Added bonus, it forces you to see more of the city.

You won’t know exactly what you’re truly in for until you get there and experience it. But follow these three simple tips and choosing a place to call home will be easy as pie. Which is actually quite easy.