Movin' on up
January 14, 2013 2:36 AM   Subscribe

I've lived in just one city for most of my adult life. I know a lot of people who've spent their large parts of their adult lives working and living in many different cities. Those of you who've done this, how did you go about doing it? How did it work out for you?

So I've been living in London for about 6 years. I like it here, lots of friends, own a place, etc. But I'm interested of moving around a little - maybe to a different city or even a different country. New York would be cool but really, any big city that isn't in the UK would be interesting.

Many people I know appear to do this easily - a couple of years in Singapore, a stint in France, etc. For my part I am very interested in making this work but overwhelmed by the admin that such a move would seem to entail. How do you find a job when you're in a different country? How about sorting out a place to stay, when you're not there in person to check the place/neighbourhood out or talk to the landlord? How on earth do you sort such things out? Assume I know a handful of people in the cities that I'm considering. I work in development and alumni relations at a large university, and have an MA from a good university here. I know I could rent my flat out while I was away.

So I'm looking for advice or anecdotes from people who've moved around from city to city successfully (there must be lots of you). Thanks in advance, guys!
posted by Ziggy500 to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This may not be what you are looking for since the company I work for has been moving me around, but in my case, my company pays for everything. Since they want me to go somewhere, they pay for a trip to do househunting, look at schools for kids, etc. Although I have a contractor to help me, I still am pretty much on my own when it comes to the logistics of travel, arranging movers to come, etc.

The biggest headache of moving overseas is obtaining a visa (not a business travel or a tourist visa) and/or work permit. Ugh.
posted by xmts at 2:56 AM on January 14, 2013

There seems to be a lot of different approaches depending on situation and freedom of movement / visas, availability of jobs etc.

One way is find Job in destination country before moving - this can involve flying over for interviews / or Video interviews, or headhunters or other recruiting agencies in the destination country. Sort out visas before moving over. Then

Either go over for a quick visit for a week or a weekend to look for and sort out a flat or fly over with a bag and stay in temporary accommodation for a month while you look for a flat. either crashing with friends or a serviced apartment or hotels.

I just moved from Netherlands to London and we left our stuff in storage in The Netherlands for a few months until we had found a flat then hired a van and drove back to get stuff. My partner had a job lined up in London already and we stayed with friends for a couple of weeks while looking for a new flat. I found a job after arriving.

When I moved from Sydney to London it was all paid for by the company. I shipped stuff by sea as I left and it arrived in London about 3 months later - by which time I was all setup in a new (but rather empty) flat.

I also know people who have put all their stuff in storage for 6 months then gone on a city hopping "holiday" (tourist Visas) and stayed for a month or two in different cities until they found one they liked and could get work in (legally). Then they went back to sort out visas and moved to the final destination. - this obviously requires quite a bit of savings / financial freedom.
posted by mary8nne at 3:23 AM on January 14, 2013

I've done multiple kinds of moves. With and without relocation assistance and to countries where I did and did not need residence visas.

If you're being moved by your employer then relocation assistance is usually provided and you'll hopefully have a pre-move recon trip funded by them. I've also done moves where the company provided accomodation for the first few months, giving me the opportunity to move right in and look for a place to live at my leisure.

My latest move, in December from Dubai to London, was done without assistance - though I did get a lump sum joining bonus to cover the expenses myself.
In this case I didn't need a visa, so that step could be skipped.
As long as you're very organised, it's not really a big deal. The key thing is to keep in mind the lead times for crucial paperwork and understand what is critical to get done early on. For instance, I got myself on a friend's electricity bill as a payer before I even came to London for interviews - that meant that when I needed a utility bill to a UK residential address to set-up a bank account in late November I already had one.

Don't expect to get everything 100% done the first time, the first week I was here I couch-surfed at friend's places, then I moved on to renting a room in a shared flat for a month while the person who usually lived there was away on holiday (in cash, as I didn't have a bank account yet), now I've been in London for five weeks and working for four and I'm looking for a flat to rent long-term. Finding good intermediate term solutions takes the time pressure off.

My things are being shipped from Dubai to London, when they get here they'll go into storage for a month or so - that way they can be delivered straight to my new permanent flat and I won't have to move them again.

Unfortunately, I started work 2nd week of December which meant a lot of crucial activities like getting an NI number and setting up a bank account stretched out over the holidays. Had it not been for that, I think I could have cut two weeks off the time needed to get settled in.

Honestly, the most important factor that removes stress from a move without relocation assistance is having money readily available. I'm not getting my first paycheck until the end of January (7 weeks after starting) for all kinds of paperwork reasons and if I didn't have enough cash to handle the relocation expenses and two months of living in London unpaid then this would be much more complicated and stressful.
posted by atrazine at 3:34 AM on January 14, 2013

I am just at the beginning (2nd week) of a year stint in Germany alone, following shortly after a year and a half stint with my husband.

My company is helping with funding, but setting up an apartment within the budget, and doing all the moving type tasks has been the most stressful part for me. The visa and apartment hunting was worked out on an earlier trip, so I didn't have to worry about that, but setting up internet, cell and other things is a huge pain and the company I have helping me hasn't been that much help, so it has been quite stressful, but all of that is a problem no matter where you move. Hell, when my husband set up our apartment in Boston a few months ago, he had to wait 2-plus weeks for internet too...

When we did the earlier stint, all the shipping of our goods was covered by my husband's company, so we didn't have any problems there. But the whole internet, cell, apartment finding, furniture buying etc. was just as horrible and inconvenient.

Also, as I am learning, don't underestimate the stress of being separated from people you know. When it was my husband and I together, we had each other there for support for much of the time. Now that we are an ocean apart, it is much more difficult to support each other--we're making it work, but this first week has been really tough.

All of this is not to say "don't do it". Our first stint was the best time of my life and I am sure I will be more comfortable in my current stint once the rest of the details are worked out and all my furniture is assembled, but the transition time can be tough. So much so, that I told my husband the other night that the next move we do will be in slow motion, so the transition won't be as abrupt.
posted by chiefthe at 4:11 AM on January 14, 2013

I spent my entire childhood and adolescence in once house. Since then, call it a dozen years, I've lived in five different states.

How'd that happen? Mostly by accident. I went off somewhere to college, then lived there for a while after I graduated. Then I moved to a different state for another academic program. Then I moved home for a while. Then I moved to a different state for law school. Got a job in-state but in a different city. Now I'm looking to move to the Mid-Atlantic, which will add another city and possibly another state to the tally.

The logistics are a pain in the ass, and as I get older, I acquire more and more stuff. When I moved off to college, my family fit all of my stuff and enough for a week-long vacation for the rest of them into our minivan with a cargo carrier. I moved to New York and Indiana with all my stuff in my Subaru. But leaving law school took my car and two minivans, and my last move across town took a moving van. I'm totally not looking forward to moving again.

Figuring out a place to live without being on-site at all ahead of time is a pain in the ass, but you basically just do it. There isn't any really good solution to that that doesn't involve hiring a relocation service.
posted by valkyryn at 5:35 AM on January 14, 2013

It is not that difficult. You just need to be organized. I've lived in San Francisco, NYC and London. Just recently moved out of London to Gloucestershire.

How do you find a job when you're in a different country? How about sorting out a place to stay, when you're not there in person to check the place/neighbourhood out or talk to the landlord? How on earth do you sort such things out?

In all cases, I landed in temporary accommodation. Either staying with a friend or doing a short-term let for a couple months. This allows you to focus on getting there, sorting other things out, before you decide on the more permanent place to stay.

As others have said, during this period, your stuff gets moved into storage and then moved back out when you find a more permanent place.

For me, in all cases, I already had a job waiting for me at the destination. If not, I presume there would have been a lot of flying back and forth.
posted by vacapinta at 6:12 AM on January 14, 2013

I've moved cross country in the US a number of times and signed leases to rent places without seeing them in person or having anyone to do it for me. Here is how:

-Use to find the rentals (or other sites depending on the location)

-I would ask the landlord or the realtor, who ever was showing the place to go through and either take photos or video and send them to me electronically. So I would have a virtual tour to look at.

-Where possible (and if moving to a city it's almost definitely possible) I would then use the Google Street Map feature to look around/explore the block/neighborhood

-Use to search for food in the area and see what sort of ratings pop up. This is a bonus step but if you love to eat out like I do then it can be very helpful....

the places I have rented sight unseen using this method have worked out really well.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:37 AM on January 14, 2013

You apply for a job, and work out the rest when you get there. Or beforehand, if you have the opportunity to make a visit to rent a place beforehand. Visas - totally depends on the country/sector/organisation.

You are in the EU - that seems to be the most obvious place for you to start. Academic jobs are advertised in Times Higher for Europe and beyond.

Like chiefthe, I'm currently living in a different country to my husband. It is very difficult, even though this is the third time we've lived in different places. As I get older, this life does get harder - where should we invest our money, how do we save for retirement, will we ever go 'home', how do we compensate for missing our friends, etc.
posted by wingless_angel at 8:22 AM on January 14, 2013

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