My first time moving to a new state. Help me prepare!
May 1, 2012 9:24 PM   Subscribe

I've never really moved before. I went off to college, sure, but that was in the same state, just a few hours from home. This is a different ballgame. I'll be leaving Iowa to live somewhere else for an extended period of time and this will be a first. I could use some help in preparing for this and advice on what to do when I get there.

After tons of advice from this thread and this thread (and thanks again for all the support and suggestions), I've made a lot of changes in my life over the past month and gotten over the fear that was holding me back from a lot of decisions.

I've not only started writing again (almost every day; I've missed a few days here and there) but I've also started working on breaking through my tendency to mask my emotions like anger or frustration, which have made me into a pushover and caused me a lot of internal fury. I've been doing some exercising. I've been taking a lot of time out for me. I've been reading. I've been meeting people and socializing, going on dates. And most importantly, I've been cutting out the people in my life that I find toxic and hazardous for my well-being. I've also been unmedicated for the past two weeks, after deciding that I wanted to know what my 'normal' is before I go back on medication (and honestly, I haven't noticed any difference versus the medication I was taking).

While working through all of this, accomplishing all of this, I've also come to the decision that in a month, I'm getting the hell out of this state and out of the Midwest, which I've wanted to do for years. On the 21st, I'm flying down to Austin for just over a week to scope out the city. I have a good friend down there who is willing to put me up for a couple weeks while I find a place, and my grandmother is willing to spot me for rent until I can land a job, so the runway is clear.

I know that I'll need to be living alone; I don't do well with roommates. It causes a lot of paranoia and insecurity for a lot of weird reasons. I also know that, like I did last summer, I'm going to have to make finding a job my job. Last summer, I'd regularly 'work' an eight hour shift at a coffee job, filling out applications, sending them off, tweaking my resumé. And I'd write and read. That's what I'll have to pick up again once I get there. And yeah, some people have told me to wait till I have a job to move down there but I've made excuses to get out of things I fear for long enough. It's time to do something.

But I've never really left my safety net, so to speak. I don't know what I need to do to prepare for such a move, what I need to do when I get there, what things I need to keep in mind or questions I need to ask. Hell, I don't really know that much about Austin to begin with (except that it's full of a hell of a lot of interesting things/people/culture). So any advice y'all could give would be appreciated.
posted by Modica to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Rent a cheap apartment in area you think you'll probably like with the shortest lease you can get because you won't *really* know whether you'll like an area until you've settled in for a while.

Don't worry too much about having the right stuff or what to bring or not to bring. It will make very little difference in the long run whether you ship your bed or buy a new one there.

Make sure that you try to find people to interact with once you're there. In a new city, it's easy to feel alone and retreat to solitary activities like web browsing and reading as your standard evening. This will probably not get you where you want to be, you don't need to move to Austin to hang out alone in your apartment. Just be aware of this.

If there's anything you ever really wanted to do, but never could convince yourself to try, let this be an opportunity. Always wanted to try (for example) mountain biking but didn't have anyone to ride with? Maybe now's a good time to look for a cycling club and give it a try.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:32 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I made the move to Austin a year ago. If you get worn down by the hella hot days you are about to encounter, please remember that the "winter" makes up for it.

Know that Austin is really a different culture. It may take some getting used to, even spanish words that work their way in, like knowing "pollo" on a menu is chicken. I knew "gracias" when I moved down here, that's it. I was surprised that a mexican restaurant was kind of frustrating for me at first- so much info to take in!

Some people actually make some good first connections through AA meetings. Given past questions this may be a good place to start for you.

I don't know if you're looking for Austin specific information, a moving info, making friends info or something else, so a more specific question may help guide your responses as well. (And I'd love to help you out down here but I'm just about to move out of Austin, though feel free to memail me any more questions).
posted by raccoon409 at 10:11 PM on May 1, 2012

Moving can be great -- its a great opportunity to kind of start over. I moved across the country for college: I'm from Houston and moved to Providence, RI. Most of my friends from high school stayed in-state (actually, most of them moved to Austin), and I didn't know anyone here when I got here. Aside from being miles away from anyone I know, it was a little bit of a culture shift (I definitely wouldn't say shock though) -- saying "hi" to strangers on the street and saying "y'all" got me some quizzical looks, among other things... and the Rhode Island/New England culture was new and odd to me too. I agree with Raccoon about the "Spanglish"... that's another thing I didn't even realize I was doing ("I need to go to the bano", "Let's go back to mi casa") until people were like "Uh, what?" that you will also have to get used to. ;)

Just give yourself some time to adjust before you decide you do or don't like it... you might have a moment of "holy shit what am I doing here, this is definitely not Iowa and everything I know is so far away and ohmigawd it's 110 degrees in the shade". I know I did, and was desperately missing the familiar, but now I'm absolutely in love with Providence. My life is here. I actually pretty rarely come home, only about twice a year... comparatively low to my other college friends.

If you decide you still aren't digging it in say, 6 months, then think about relocating, but it takes time to adjust to a new place, finding new friends, new things to do, an apartment, job, etc. Set up some sort of timeframe for yourself... like "Okay, if I make it through January and I still don't like it here/still don't have a job/etc. I am going to make plans to move."

All that being said, as a Texan/sometime visitor of Austin, I'll just throw in that Austin is an awesome city that is getting a lot of growth lately; I'm considering moving back there post-graduation if I can find a job there in my field. Lots of stuff to do, especially for 20-somethings-early 30s. People tend to be on the friendly side. Don't be afraid to ask people about things to do and places to go, even if you think it's kind of a weird/awkward thing to do. Just say you're new in town and are looking for a good X. Austinites (is that a word? Austiners?) are pretty enthusiastic about their city in my experience, so pretty much anyone you bump into will be thrilled to send you in the direction of their favorite pizza/coffee/Indian/whatever joint. I'm sure your friend will know some cool spots to hang out, but doing some exploring on your own can help you get your bearings in the city and meet new people-- both things you'll need to do. I'll go ahead and recommend Mozart's Coffee... real pretty view.
posted by jorlyfish at 10:20 PM on May 1, 2012

Let me suggest Hyde Park, a central neighborhood with lots of fairly cheap apartments, as a promising place to live in Austin. It's close to several grocery stores, it's quiet and close to everything that makes Austin great.

I would argue against living outside central Austin. Even Oltorf is too far. Live central.

Check out Barton Springs pool. Go to UT. Walk up and down the drag. Hang out at Quacks Bakery (43rd and Duval) some morning. Go down to South Congress (which has become much too hip for my taste but is fun to explore). Walk around downtown. Hit Book People (which is downtown). Go to Hamilton Pool or one of the other swimming holes around Austin.
posted by jayder at 5:33 AM on May 2, 2012

Set up a meetup and by the time it happens, you may have a better idea of what to ask us. Welcome to Austin.

(Also as someone who lives just south of Oltorf, I'm laughing at the idea I'm in the boonies and Hyde Park, which I think is way north, is central. We all have our own Austin. You'll find yours.)
posted by immlass at 7:44 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take good care of papers like rent agreement, insurance etc. Make a place where you always archive them, so you can easily find them again. I 'earned' one month of rent because I kept the receipt. Best hourly wage, ever.
posted by flif at 7:54 AM on May 2, 2012

One of the perks to Austin is that there are a lot of different areas with lots of different subcultures, but it's still small enough you can find your own place. Definitely get out and explore different neighborhoods and see where you feel at home and remember if you don't like one place, there's another one just around the corner. People from downtown act like I live in Oklahoma when really I'm all of 10 minutes away. Well, that depends entirely on traffic. There is a LOT of traffic during rush hour, just be prepared for it. However, our occupancy rate is extremely high, so if you find a place you like, you need to pounce on it.

As to what you'll need to do once you find an apartment, it's usually something like: Have the utilities turned on in your name, which is usually a matter of calling and maybe paying a deposit. Have any other services (internet, cable, phone, whatever) turned on in your name, which may involve calling or may involve an installation visit. At some point you'll pick up the keys and then you can move in.

For furniture and stuff, there's some cool funky stores in town and there's an Ikea in Round Rock if you just want to do everything in one fell swoop. For groceries, there's HEB, Randall's, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and a variety of ethnic groceries of your choice. We're getting a Trader Joe's soon and that's pretty cool. And there's the usual Target and Wal-mart stuff.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:03 AM on May 2, 2012

I moved across the country a few years ago in the other direction. Here's what helped me:

1. Temp. I didn't even do proper job hunting, I just temped my way into long term assignments and eventually full time work. It's easier to get your foot in the door for a short-term gig, and once people know you and know your work they are much more willing to hire you.

2. Being in a new place is exciting but also a little depressing - for me, anyway. Seek out support networks (church, AA) and be patient with yourself.

3. Leverage the internet and social networks to meet as many new people as possible. Be a little cautious - you may be more likely to get into friendships or relationships that aren't that good for you, just to cope with the loneliness. That's ok, just recognize it when it happens and back out.

4. Find a local coffee shop where you can hang out and read and chat with locals. Look for cool free/cheap events and go to them. Host potlucks and dinner parties.

It takes at least a year to really get into the groove and get used to a new city. You will have some funks, but you will also have some amazing fun. Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 8:29 AM on May 2, 2012

Get involved, get out and do things. Nthing the set up a meetup, or using the internet and social networks to meet people. Even use your current network, you never know who might have connections in Austin. Being involved (even if it's a writing group or kickball or something), gets you out and helps you make those connections.

I found, when moving, that for furniture and housing and such Craigslist was my friend. However I'm in a significantly larger city than Austin, so I'm not sure if it's the same. But use it. Especially on a tight budget.

And look into temp agencies or something similar for finding work when you get out there. It's a place to start, sometimes the opportunities turn into full-time positions, and a lot of times they're readily available.
posted by bleachandink at 12:40 PM on May 2, 2012

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