How to handle moving away for work

Thanks for asking me to answer, Michael.

I moved for work three years ago, and it was the biggest, scariest adventure of my life so far.

First, there're always a lot of questions and worry from family members and friends. I'd highly recommend taking the time to sit down with any of them that express concern and talk through your decision to move. It helps them feel like you care and won't forget them when you're gone (which of course you won't!) but it also reassures them that you're making a good decision. Talk about better pay, better opportunities, a chance to meet new people and learn/try new things, how grateful you are for their support, thank them for the things they've already done for you, and so on.

Second, start familiarizing yourself with your new city. Read up on the city from a data perspective, and then browse through Yelp and reddit threads to see what locals think about the city. Ask your social media audiences if anyone has been to the city before and what they remember about it. You'll be surprised how many people will either know someone in your new city or have something interesting to tell you about it. (Though, take what they tell you with a grain of salt. Our friends told us our new city was extremely conservative, but they hadn't visited for 13 years. And when we arrived, it was more liberal than we ever expected.) Look at the touristy things to do, make lists of what interesting things you want to see or try when you get there, and try to do one a week once you're settled in. Start looking as well for places to live and reading up on neighborhoods (here are some tips on doing that remotely: The Inside Scoop: Renting an Apartment Sight Unseen).

And as far as making friends, meeting new people, adjusting to life in a new city, one of the best things to do is just jump right in. Find a few things you're passionate about (like volunteering at the animal shelter or gallery strolls or silent films) and start routinely doing those things in your new city. (Here are some more ideas of things to do to get involved in the city's life and movement: 8 Modern Ways to Make Friends in a New City.)

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Now, if you're also curious about handling work paying for your move or reimbursing you for the move, be sure you've addressed this with them before you actually move. Get their relocation policy in writing and confirm that they will be compensating you for the move (may as well get that in writing too).

There's usually two ways a company will compensate an employee for a work relocation: prepaid move arranged by the company or a bonus/reimbursement program once you've moved.

I had the latter - I had to take out a credit card to handle the upfront expenses, but they were giving me a sizable moving bonus once I arrived, so I planned carefully for the move and then paid the card down with the bonus as soon as I was in the new city.

If they're paying for your move upfront, that's easier - all you have to do is maybe box your stuff up, figure out where you're going to live, and plan to arrive at about the same time as your stuff.

I'm not sure one method is better than the other. I liked the freedom of controlling my own budget and handling the move myself, but I didn't have very much stuff, and we had family to visit on the drive. I could also see the benefit of letting someone else handle the move and either spending your free time saying goodbye to friends or flying ahead to the new city and getting acquainted with it.

Either way, I hope that everything goes smoothly and you really fall into place in your new city! Best of luck!


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