You’ve just graduated college or high school and it’s time to move out from your parents’ house and make your own way in the world.
Whether you’re staying nearby or moving to an entirely different city, moving into your own place will be tough. Much of this article will deal with moving to a new city, as that presents the greater challenge. If you’re simply moving across town, adapt your plan accordingly.
Decide Where to Live
Is there a city you’re interested in moving to? We have dozens of articles on moving, including many about some of the best cities to live and work in the United States, so check those out.
This may have already been decided for you. Perhaps you applied for hundreds of jobs across the country, and you landed a great one a few states away. Or, perhaps your first foray into living on your own (aside from during your college years) needs to be relatively close to where your parents live.
In any case, making this decision is a big step and will shape the steps to come.
Have a Place to Live
If you already have a job waiting for you, and a little money saved, you may be able to rent an apartment right away. Start looking a month or so before you have to move, and apply to the affordable apartments you like best. Once you know you can pay rent, it’s time to find a place of your own. Good apartment listing sites include Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads. Craigslist is also a good place to find private landlords who may be more flexible than property management companies.
Perhaps you have a friend or relative who lives in the area who would be willing to let you stay with them for a month or two while you get settled. If so, bring only what you need, and the day after you’ve moved in, start looking for a job and a place to live.
These days, there are a variety of job search sites to help you find work. These include Indeed.com, Monster.com, Glassdoor, and Ziprecruiter. You can also seek out agencies that offer resume workshops. You may find one that will give you the advice you need to polish your resume and land you a great work opportunity. One trick is to read the keywords in a given job listing and to then tailor your resume to the job, using the keywords. Be honest, of course, but remember that how you frame your skills is important.
Become a Virtual Explorer
Now that we have the more crucial, serious considerations out of the way, we can focus on ways you can get to know your new city or neighborhood!
Today, it’s possible to tour an area without ever going there, via Google Maps. You can drop into street view almost anywhere and click on the arrows that appear on the streets to move, and click and drag the mouse to look around. When you get there in person, you’ll be surprised how familiar it all seems. This is also a great way to spot shops and other places you’d like to visit.
Explore in Person
Once you’re settled in, you can really get to know your new city or neighborhood. Go exploring in person. Try unfamiliar restaurants and stores. Get your groceries at one place today, and another a few days later. In fact, over the first two or three weeks, don’t shop at the same place twice. Try to stay within a reasonable distance from home or work, though.
After a few weeks, you’ll know where you prefer eating and shopping and can frequent the places you like best.
Discover the Local Culture
There are several things you can do to learn more about the local culture. Look for local chain stores. Check if there’s a city website, which may tell you more about local events, parks, and more. What makes your city different? Is it a surf town? Is there a large theater or arts community? Does it have local vineyards?
Go to your city’s downtown area and wander. Check out local shops, restaurants, and cafes. Go to the library and check out a book on the city. Talk to locals and ask what they like to do around town. Use Google to look up must see places.
Hopefully at work and around town, you’ll meet some interesting people and make some friends. Another great way to do that is to sign up for an account on a site like Meetup, Eventbrite, or Groupspaces. You’ll be able to find groups that share your hobbies and interests, and then go meet them.
If you don’t have enough room for all your belongings at first, and can’t keep them at your parents’ home, consider renting a self storage unit. It can either be near where your parents live, or where you’re moving to. Depending on the weather in the area, you may also need a unit with climate control.
Self storage costs significantly less per square foot than residential space, and once you have a big enough apartment, you’ll be able to move everything in.