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New City Moving Guide

If you've recently graduated from college and accepted a job in another city there are some things you should know. The first of which is: This is not like moving to college. If you've lived in a dorm your for your entire career and missed out on finding a place, living with roommates, getting bills paid on time then you've got some work ahead of you.

Finding A Place to Live

There aren't many reasons to support you buying a home. For starters, you probably don't have the credit score to secure a home loan. Regardless of whether you're thinking about your first credit card or have been building credit for years you don't need the weight of a mortgage on your shoulders. Odds are you'll have a few jobs, possibly in different cities, before finding one and settling down. If you do manage to secure a mortgage the difficulty of having to sell your before you move could prevent you from taking a new job or be extremely costly down the road. To some, rent is like throwing money away. To others it's the key to freedom. In an uncertain job market the safest bet is to keep as many options open as you can and wait to commit yourself until you have security in your job and personal life.

Too many websites exist for finding an apartment. Many of them are full of listings that shouldn't interest grads. The site that has given me the best results has been padmapper.com.

Padmapper overlays listings from craigslist, Apartments.com, Rent.com and a number of other sites on Google Maps. Instead of picking through dozens or hundreds of listings it allows you to filter on price, number of rooms, pets, pictures, just about any attribute you can think of. Also, they show how the apartment cost weighs against apartments in the surrounding area. It may not be the most accurate but if you don't know the area you will get an idea of the different neighborhoods price ranges.

When figuring our what you are willing to pay for an apartment try to spend less than 25% of your after tax income. When you apply for the apartment the realtor may run a background/credit check. As long as you can show that your monthly rent is reasonable with respect to your monthly income you should be fine. This should put you in the $500 - $700 range depending on your start salary. If you can pay less than that even better. One of your biggest goals right now should be paying off any debt you have.

Filling Your Apartment

If you already have furniture that's great. You're ahead. If you don't it's easy to find yourself stuck looking on Craigslist for hours a day trying to find a good deal. While Craigslist is a wonderful resource for finding an apartmment it's not as great for furniture. Thrift stores and sites like Craigstlist earned their reputation from the time before the Bush/Obama economy made things tough on everyone and the Internet made it easier for everyone to communicate. Often it was easier to give old furniture away than try and find a buyer. You'd have to put a listing in the paper, hope someone saw it and you could end up selling it and fielding calls for days or weeks before the ad leaves circulation.

If you're on the East Coast or in the Midwest you should be looking at American Freight. You can buy a full living room set - sofa, love seat, coffee table, two end tables, and 2 designer lamps for <$500. Bedroom sets go the same way, for less than $300 you can get a three peice set. It may look expensive but for under $800 you've just furnished your two main rooms. Spend the rest on a nice kitchen table/chair set and you're done!

Thrifting is also a great way to find things for your apartment. I found that using American Freight for my base and then using stores like Goodwill, Gabriel Brothers and Big Lots to provide the “filler.” Goodwill is run on donation but stores like Gabriel's and Big Lots often get product lines from Target and other big box stores after the season is over. Most of the time the markdown is incredibly low. Everything is being priced to move as these stores rely on freeing up shelf space to fit in more product. Furniture from American Freight will look a little bit skeletal or like framework without accessories and having some paintings and a clock to hang around your apartment will definitely take away the “bare” feeling.

Finding Something To Do

It's good to be excited about a new career. You should be. When you move to a new city you're leaving behind friends, family and possibly an entire support structure. Every city is different, some make it easy to find new friends. Others can be difficult. After you've moved in and taken some time to settle in to your apartment you'll probably start feeling anxious to get out and do something. It's intimidating going out an meeting new people but there are plenty of resources available for this as well.

Start at the office. If you can find people with similar interests they probably know the best places to go. For example, my city has a large biking movement. Many of the folks in my area like to ride their bikes to and from work. It's become like a game for many of us - seeing how long we can between using our cars. I found out a person I worked with raced for a local bike shop. He gave me so much information from where to ride to where to find races to trails to local groups. You get the idea.

People like to talk about themselves. If you like the same things as them it's easy to ask the right questions and get so much free information as well as a new friend.

Check out sites like Meetup. There's a group of 100 people in Pittsburgh who get together to talk about Bitcoin. There are dozens of groups for dancing, fine dining, social events. Anything you are interested in probably has a meetup group. If not, make one. There's a lot of value in starting something. Odds are you won't even have to put much time in to running it. If enough people join the group will likely perpetuate itself. Meetup is a great way to find someting to do as well as meet people who have something in common with you.

Above were three tips designed to help you get yourself setup when you move to a new city. In truth, it's not as intimidating as it seems. Just keep your wits and try not to overbudget. The more you can save yourself now the more you'll save yourself in the long run.

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