Take the Job, Make it Fun is Big Decision #1
Have you made the choice, like I did, to accept the job offer, and move across the country? Or, are you still on fence—uncertain as to how you would approach such a task?
I received a lot of advice and direction, of course. But in the end, you have to take control on your own. This is simultaneously daunting and exciting. You get to create your own life and reap the risks and rewards.
The primary task is obvious— finding a place to live.
I didn’t know much at all about Seattle, just some glimpses from walking around downtown when I visited for interviews.
I asked my soon-to-be colleagues for neighborhood recommendations—they were varied and useful.
Take advantage of your colleagues knowledge—they know the area in ways that guidebooks won’t relate. But use their recommendations as a springboard for your own research.
Your Way, Finally
Remember, this is your chance to do it your way, to decide where and how you want to live. Scour local periodicals for information on nightlife, entertainment, fitness and other topics that interest you.
- Research crime statistics for the area, if you have that concern (I didn’t, but it’s a smart move).
- Use the Street View function on Google Maps—does this look like a neighbor hood where you could thrive? Can you see yourself there?
- The more opportunities you have to walk the streets, versus driving, the more quickly you’ll familiarize and feel part of the scene. I chose a neighborhood on the water near the Space Needle, within walking distance to work.
Big Decision #2
The first one in case you are wondering is To Take the Job or Not. The second one is just as important. Finding a place to live…
How do you do that if you, like most people moving to a new city, will need to no only find that first place and then, (drum roll) sign a lease?
You could stay at a hotel for a few weeks and visit places in person, but I didn’t want the added expense. I looked online and sent inquiries to about five places, finding two that were immediately available. I simply looked at real-estate web-sites and looked at virtual-tours and apartment lay-outs. I found a place with a Puget Sound (Elliot Bay) facing balcony, and accepted it without ever first visiting.
Another Pro Hint: Take a shorter lease, if available. That way, if the place, location or even the job turns out to be a disaster, you won’t have to bear it as long. Backups are always a valuable part of the plan. Do note, however, that a shorter lease means you’ll be facing a rent increase sooner.
I took a shorter term lease of six months, and I liked the place, so the building had a quicker opportunity to increase the rent—and they did (around 5%), six months after my arrival. But it was worth the peace of mind knowing I could move in and there weren’t any unpleasant surprises. You can’t plan for everything so it’s good to have options.
And yes, it was a bit scary heading to Seattle, never having seen the place and wondering if when I arrived, deposit pre-paid as the building required, if there was a chance they would pretend they didn’t know me. They were ready for me, thankfully—but I didn’t arrive until after 5 p.m., after the leasing office closed—so I stayed in a hotel, anyway, for the first night. I planned the trip so that I would arrive a few days prior to my first workday to give myself a chance to move in and acclimate a bit.
Pro Hint: But if you want extra measures of reassurance, contact the local Better Business Bureau and research the building—make sure they have a good reputation (or not a bad one). Look for reviews on line, but obviously take them with several grains of salt!
Once you’ve chosen your spot, next question up is how are you going to get yourself and your stuff there?
If you don’t need a car in your new location, don’t bring one. Between parking costs and car payments you free up a lot of money as well as hassles. I was only four months into a new car lease when I accepted the move, so I was stuck with the car and the need to drive across the country (more on that in the future).
Now for Some Fun Choices
So what are you bringing? Everything from your current home? As little as possible? Unless you have expensive furniture, it might not make sense to pay for a long-distance moving company—do the research, but you might save money—and hassle—by selling most of what you have and buying new upon arrival. I brought no furniture—slept on the floor for a few days and grabbed a $20 cloth chair from Bed, Bath until new furniture arrived.
But I did have a car, so I filled it with clothes, kitchen tools and cleaning supplies, towels, an alarm clock, etc., to make my arrival easier. But you really don’t need much at first. Go minimal, if possible, and buy things as you need them. I didn’t buy a television for weeks. Simplify and focus on your reason for being there—work and new experiences. Searching your new locale for furniture stores, kitchen and bath supplies is another way to explore your new world—have fun with it!
You’ve arrived. Enjoy and thrive.