At the ripe age of seventeen, I made the very mature, very SPONTANEOUS decision to graduate high school early and leave the corn. Looking back, I now know, I was simply born to live a bigger life than what my small hometown in Illinois had to offer. Whether you have received a job offer to relocate, need to move for family purposes or simply just need a change of scenery, any purpose to start a new life can be the biggest decision one can make. By experience, it can also be the largest life changer to learning who you are within your shining soul. From that first move from Illinois to Florida and the years to follow, I realized that picking up my life and resettling in an unknown territory wasn't as hard or as scary as it first seemed. In the last 23 years, I have relocated nine times, that included six different states. Each time I took that huge leap of faith, I ended up walking away with new life tools, new friends and a lifetime of unforgettable memories.
"You are one decision away from a totally different life." ~ Mark Batterson
Sharing these experiences with my daughter as she's prepares to leave the nest, helping her strategically plan and prepare for this next step in her life only sets her up for success. As she will heavily rely on us as her parents to be successful, sometimes you just don't have the same support. So where do you even begin? Just looking at the big picture can overwhelm even the most organized individual. As mentioned in one of our Not Your Mamas Book Club discussions, breaking the big move (main goal) down to the small steps and milestones will make the finish line look not so frightening. I can honestly admit, in one of my moves from Florida to Arizona, I didn't prepare at all. I pretty much had a place to sleep and cash in my pocket. Ya'll, do NOT do this! It can leave you feeling doubtful about every decision you have just made. All that said, the first step to all of this, is the WHERE. Are you moving out of town but in the same state or traveling across the country? Whether either of those, both require detailed preparations which include the most important in planning, the research. The time you put into the research will assist you in picking the right location for what you are trying to accomplish. Someone who hates the snow and cold weather, clearly shouldn't consider Washington State to relocate to. Another thing to consider that most forget is your health. Someone with asthma shouldn't contemplate moving to Philadelphia. Ya'll it's listed in the TOP 5 in most challenging cities to live for asthmatic patients. Once you have the location, start narrowing down the metropolitan and it's suburbs. From there, all the fun begins as you learn all the possibilities for your new life. In 1997, there was no such thing as Google. The tools to research were limited to say the least. Now we are lucky to have the world wide web. The internet is the world's largest encyclopedia with everything you need to know about the location you choose. If you are choosing to relocate without already locking in employment, it's important you research the job market. Will your income be the same or more? Will the cost of living and average salary ratio be sustainable? The web can ensure the location chosen is the best suitable for your overall financial health. A phenomenal web tool for finding average salaries in a specific area is Glassdoor. Not only will you be able to plug in any position, you will also be able to determine what salary to negotiate come the job offer stage of your transition.
If you find the salaries provided don't quite match up to what you are currently making, it may take some consideration to either reevaluate the location you've chosen, or possibly consider a career change. I have to be real here people, I have updated my expertise so many times my resume should just read, "Jack of All Trades". I'll walk you through this process in the upcoming weeks. It's easier than you think. As well as Google, I used Facebook and Instagram to start following groups, pages and public profiles to gather some additional knowledge. As an example, Dallas has a great FB group, "Dallas Girl Gang". The group has over 19,000 members, full of women from all different walks of life. I joined the group with the intent to gather information, receive and review recommendations and just maybe I could meet a new friend before even parking the moving van. As I continue to be a member of this group, I'm finding a minimum of two women a day chiming in to introduce themselves as new residents to the Dallas area. Another great web tool for location research is Niche. The site will give you a report card for even some of the smallest towns including, crime, schools, housing, etc. If your plan involves moving to a big city, I recommend using Niche to search each suburb.
When I first picked an area of DFW, the housing costs were spot on and it was nicely parked right north of downtown Dallas. It wasn't until I went on Niche to realize, all was great if you were young and single. It is not ideal if you have children for the school district had a D rating. Definitely not good! You also don't want to end up picking an area where the average cost of housing is five times the amount you can afford. Nothing worse for your wallet like drinking Dom Perignon on a Bud Light budget.
Wherever you choose to plant your feet, the decision rests solely on you. The time you dedicate to the research will encourage you and add confidence that you've picked the right spot! To recap, researching your move should include:
Any health precautions to consider?
Cost of living
Current and projected job market
Making the decision to pack it all up, stepping out of your current comfort zone and taking your journey to a new town may be one of the hardest choices you will make in your life. It can also prove to be victorious to living the life you've always dreamed of. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will cover all the dirty details on budgeting, monetary resources and financial planning. You don't want to miss this! I'll be sharing my own personal moving budget spreadsheet just for YOU!