How to Budget For & Plan A Move (Timeline & Tips!)

September 16, 2015

Get a plan together for 1 year 6 months, 1 month out before you move- it doesn't have to be stressful!

This is a great post from contributor, Zina.  I’ve moved across the country 3 times and wish I’d had this guide to help me plan better!  

A week ago, I moved 1,000 miles to Denver, Colorado, along with my husband, dog and a friend of ours. We decided to move to Denver more than a year ago, which helped when we started to plan.

Moving across the country is popular for many Millennials, especially those who don’t have roots where they currently live. So many of my friends have moved to places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and New York City.  Due to work, or simply a sense of adventure, many of us have had to, or decided to move to a new city we’ve never lived before, where we may or may not have friends and family nearby.  You don’t have to be intimated!

If you’re interested in moving, here are some guidelines so you’ll be prepared when the big day comes:

One Year

If you know where you want to go, start researching what the cost of living differences will be. It’s important to know what kind of salary you’ll need to make out there. Will you able to afford to stay in your industry? Will you have to find a job with a much higher salary? What kind of positions are out there in your field?

This is when you want to reach out to people you know and find out what it’s like to live and work in the city of your choice. Find forums dedicated to people who live in your city or work in your industry. That way, you won’t be surprised to find out that you need to make $15,000 more than you do now.

You should also start budgeting for the move at this point. I know a year seems early to plan, but if you want to move without stressing, this is crucial. I made sure to have six month’s worth of living expenses, as well as $1,500 for the move and $1,500 in new furniture. Remember to overbudget – you’ll be surprised at how quickly money goes when you’re moving far away.

Six Months

At this point, you should visit your prospective city and research what neighborhoods you want to live in. I used Reddit and personal friends to get an idea of what places we could afford that would fit our basic needs. Make sure you to plan your visit around moving.  Cheaper days to snag airfare are during the week, usually on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.   Sightseeing is for later – this trip is to research in-person, and you may need to rent a car to get around and travel further to make the best use of your time when scoping out a new spot to live.

Three Months

Depending on the housing climate, this is when you can start looking for a new place to live. We looked on sites like Craigslist, Zillow and Trulia. If you have friends who live in your city, let them know you’re looking and ask for advice.

The more time you have to find a place, the more likely you’ll be happy with your choice.  Be cautious of the time of year as well and whether there are colleges nearby that could impact when more apartments are on the market.  Winter may be a slower season to try and find the right place, but you may be able to snag a deal if a place has been sitting vacant for a long time.  When you call to inquire about the place that’s available, see if you can negotiate for add-ons (like free parking), cheaper rent for a longer term lease or waive the move-in or pet deposit fees.

1 Month

You can start packing up your things, booking your moving company and if you’re on good terms with your employer, giving your official notice (though they may already know). I also started planning our going-away party and meeting up with people I wanted to say goodbye to.

This is also a good time to start reaching out to people who live in your new location so you’ll have a built-in network before you leave. You can also research Meetup groups based on your interests, fitness classes, churches and volunteer groups to hit the ground running when you’ve moved in.

I also researched ways to get rid of our stuff so I wouldn’t be stuck taking our old furniture to the dump.  You can schedule a day to take any furniture to a thrift store, or see if they will pick up your furniture for you (Be advised:  some thrift locations do not take older, “tube style” televisions sets, be sure to call ahead if you have one!).  Additionally, if you live in a city, leaving furniture by the curb or in an alley for neighbors to grab might be part of the culture, so nothing goes to waste.




6 comments so far.

6 responses to “How to Budget For & Plan A Move (Timeline & Tips!)”

  1. These are great points, and I love to suggestion of using Reddit!

  2. Amanda says:

    We moved 2000 miles to Denver a couple years ago, and we planned very similarly to you! We started actually a year-and-a-half in advance and picked a date back then. With our careful planning, we actually ended up arriving 1 day earlier than that date, even with selling a house and finding jobs.

    Great tips!

    • Amanda says:

      Oh, and we actually managed to save around $8000 for our move (by selling furniture, stuff on Ebay, etc.) in addition to 6 mos of living expenses because we used a Pod thing to move (kinda expensive) and planned to live in an Extended Stay hotel until we found a new house. What helped me was to track all the expenses I expected to incur, even gas to drive there… literally every single thing. And while I was saving, if I ever had a plan to say, get pizza for lunch (every day! ha!) or go to the movies or buy clothes and managed to refrain from doing it, the money I didn’t spend would go in that account.

  3. I love this detailed advice. Doing your homework is definitely a key. I have moved from Eastern Europe to France, again from Eastern Europe to California and then back to Europe. Now I ended up in Minnesota as well. Based on my experience it depends a lot about your family and expectations. Moving as a single is obviously so much easier than with a toddler 🙂 The earlier you do your homework the better.

  4. Wonderful advice. I’m in the process of moving countries as we speak and this list will help me a lot. Where did you search for a job? I think it’s necessary to have at least 6 months of savings even more if possible. I’m planning on 7-8 excluding the travel costs.

  5. Angela says:

    Great tips! Can you talk about finding a job in another city before you move?


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