Moving far away, getting jobs far away - what's the plan?
July 7, 2014 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Short form: seriously thinking of moving to be closer to the husband's parents. Would have to find work and housing there while still living here. Complication: cats (old and not in peak health), too much stuff, I'll need to learn to drive. Mefites who have done this: what's the plan? Advice/warnings/omens?

My husband and I are thinking of moving to live closer to his parents. The time seems to be right because:
I just got laid off from my IT job which is FANTASTIC because I've realized I don't want to work in IT any more. The husband currently has an IT job which might be mobile-acceptable, but when that job ends he, too, is sick to the teeth of IT.

I already have an idea of the kind of work I want to go into, and it should be viable both here and in the destination city.
The husband will probably be allowed to continue to work mobile for a while if we move, but we're not assuming anything long-term. He has some ideas for alternative employment also, and some connections back home.

So. How does this... happen? What's the best order of events? Job/housing/moving etc. etc.?
posted by L'Estrange Fruit to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you own a house where you live now? This will affect what needs to happen. If not, are you on a lease or month-to-month?
posted by Lyn Never at 9:04 AM on July 7, 2014

Well, a word of advice on moving in general: you have about 500% more stuff than you think you have, and it will take you five times as long as you think it will to pack it up and move it. So start getting rid of things now. Summer is a great time for yard sales.
posted by desjardins at 9:06 AM on July 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

One-year lease, law round these parts is three-month notice.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:06 AM on July 7, 2014

The best approach is to get a new job in the city where you plan to live before you move, and have your new employer pay your moving expenses. That's how I ended up in Seattle fourteen years ago.

Now, if you don't have any experience in the field you want to go into, this isn't likely to happen. So stay where you are and get that experience. Also, learn to drive. (Believe me, you don't want to learn to drive and learn how to get around a new city at the same time.) Plan to move in a couple years.
posted by kindall at 9:19 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Give notice and start throwing out everything you own. This will take several weeks to a month or more - you think it won't but it will. Start packing whatever you couldn't bring yourself to get rid of, down to survival supplies.

Then you go to stay with his parents while he continues to work normally. You get a job and then a place to live. Pack up the last remaining items and move, with him working remotely for however long he can get away with it while he looks for a new job.

If you cannot stay with his parents, rent a room from someone as cheaply as you can. You say "far away" so it sounds like going back and forth is not an option. You might be able to start the job-hunting process remotely, using his parents' address and getting a phone number in that area code (google voice, burner cell, whatever), telling prospective employers that you have a firm moving date (which you make up), but you may need to be there.

You can start this plan whenever you decide you're ready - waiting for the cats to die if that's your plan, learning to drive, whatever else. But you might as well just go, because then you'll have no choice but to do what you've got to do. There's never a perfect time, so don't wait around for one. Put things in motion and go.

If the two of you living with his parents is a really good option, then just go ahead and give notice and throw all your stuff away and move as soon as you're packed.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

A bunch of questions to consider:
* How far are we talking about? Is it a few hours drive and you can go for the weekend to look at places/take a few days and go on job interviews? Or is this a cross-country/continent type move?
* Do you need to train for this new work that you're thinking about? If so, start now, since you aren't working and have the free time.
* Likewise, start learning to drive now.
* Are you open to living somewhere temporary when you first move to the new place or does it have to be an immediate permanent/semi-permanent situation?
* Could you/would you want to live with his parents for a few months while you got your feet on the ground?
* How adventurous/open to change are you and your husband (and the cats) in general? Are you ready to move whenever or are you going to wait until you find the ideal home and job(s)?
* Can you afford to move now or do you need to save up money?

But basically if you really think you're going to do this at any point in the next year or two, I'd say the first things to do are to start applying for jobs (in the new place, and use your husbands' parents' address on your resume/cover letter), and start getting rid of any Stuff you don't absolutely love.
posted by mskyle at 9:22 AM on July 7, 2014

Note that in the current economy, nobody gets relocation anymore unless they are exceptionally valuable, and if you are changing careers that seems unlikely. Do not bet on getting any money to move.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:23 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've done this a ton of times. It's really not that complicated. The key is to not get overwhelmed and just do it. Getting a job somewhere else isn't that hard. This isn't 1920. Look for jobs online and apply online. Network because you never know who will know someone. Focus on the job first and foremost.

If you don't know how to drive, you may not be comfortable driving with all your stuff to wherever you're moving. In that case, sell all your crap and fly with all your clothes. Ship anything to yourself that is irreplaceable. I've moved both ways and prefer being able to just drive with all my stuff, but for a very long-distance move, that's not even possible. Both ways are doable.

And I disagree with the previous poster -- relocation is a standard benefit in many companies. I think a company that doesn't offer relocation for a cross country move is probably a company that is stingy or doesn't care about hiring good people. The relocation may not be as much as you like -- I only got $3,000 to move literally across the country. My friend is making a similar cross-country move and is getting $5,000, which she says won't cover everything. That being said, if you are moving anyway, it might behoove you to say that. Companies may feel better knowing that you are already on your way and may view it as less risky. Mention you have family there -- I think they'd like thinking you're not a flight risk.

I think you're really getting ahead of yourself though. You need to find a job and the rest of the details will work themselves out. When you accept a job, come back and ask for logistics help on the move. It's really not a big deal and you are trying to deal with everything all at once. That is the absolute wrong approach. Just start with the job.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:03 AM on July 7, 2014

why do you want to be closer to the in-laws ?

Are they in poor health ? Will you be their caretakers ?

Are you planning on starting a family and want to be near other family ? Do you expect to have them as sitters/baby-watchers ?

Have you laid out expectations with your spouse and in-laws ?
posted by k5.user at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2014

Job first, move second if at all possible.

Before the move--get rid of stuff. Get rid of everything. Your furniture? Unless it is a family heirloom you can replace is there, from a garage sale or thrift store, for less that the amount you gain from 1) selling your current furniture on Craigslist, and 2) the savings on not moving that furniture. The same is true of nearly everything--75% of your clothes, your books, your dishes, everything. Get rid of it.
posted by LarryC at 10:21 AM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Another vote for starting to cull the herd of belongings immediately. It takes much longer than you think it will. Sell back books, throw out and/or donate clothes you're not wearing, etc. Be brutal about it.

Start packing things that you don't use often. I like file storage boxes (the cardboard ones that you fold into a box) for moving. It's hard to pack them too heavy because of their size and they're super easy to stack for the move. When you're done, unfold and keep for the next move or use for storage.
posted by quince at 10:53 AM on July 7, 2014

You can move with cats... I've seen previous AskMe's on this. I've done it a number of times myself, feel free to memail me. Another vote for job first. Start culling 'stuff' and learning to drive. I learned to drive well enough to get my license in a few weeks (in the US over 18), ymmv but it's not as big a thing as it feels like before you learn.
posted by jrobin276 at 11:01 AM on July 7, 2014

Culling stuff...omg, you will have no idea how much crap you have until it's time to load trucks. Seriously, I did not think I had *that* took 2 18' tractor-trailers 2 trips...for a total of 4 big ol truck loads, and I didn't have them move animals, or art, or crystal stuff. I've been at the new place for 2 years, and I still haven't unpacked everything because I can't figure out what to do with it all. I'm hiring a dumpster to be delivered next week. I should have done that *before* I moved all the crap.
posted by dejah420 at 11:53 AM on July 7, 2014

A few years ago we bought a home in Minneapolis and started looking for jobs while still living in New York. As a software developer with in-demand skills, I expected tons of interest but got none, surprisingly. A recruiter told me that local employers are extremely wary of outsiders and advised me to put our new home address on my resume, even though we weren't living there yet. I did that, and immediately got lots of interest from employers - and even then, everyone's first question was about my NYC phone number. So my advice is, if you are looking for jobs, put your in-laws address on your resume, and get a local google voice number.

As far as housing, you may have an easier time buying a home ("vacation" home) as a second home based on your current stable income (your job may still be eligible), as opposed to buying a first home (primary residence) while being "alternatively" employed. If you are planning on buying a home, definitely look into securing a loan before you give up your employment history.
posted by rada at 1:46 PM on July 7, 2014

When I've made cross-country moves (4 times so far), I've generally done the following:

Cut down possessions. This means digging out everything I own, combing through it and either Keeping, Selling, Donating or Discarding them. I start by asking myself when was the last time I had needed or used this item. If I haven't used it in a long time, but it's relevant and in good condition it goes to the Sell pile, otherwise the Donate (if usable) or Discard (if unusable) pile. This method really makes me evaluate why I own something and whether it's providing me with any benefit. Who wants to waste time packing, carrying and unpacking things they just don't need? Why create the extra work for yourself? The good part about this step is decluttering your environment AND raking in a little extra money by selling off the items in your Sell pile. Another added benefit to this step is that you could go from needing a much larger apartment (to house all your stuff) to a much smaller one - money saved.

Find an extended stay hotel in the new city. Every time I've made a fairly major move, I've saved up and generally spent at least a week (usually a month) living at an extended stay hotel in the new city. I started doing this step because I didn't want to have to make a decision on where to live based on websites/calls without having physically seen the apartment/neighborhood first. Since extended stay hotels include all utilities and sometimes free internet and/or breakfast, it's actually been much cheaper for me, on several occasions, than rent (plus utilities) for an apartment. Some other pros? You don't need a job OR a good credit score to rent/live at the hotel. There's not countless bills to keep track of (rent, gas, water, internet) - just 1. The front desk gives fresh new linens/towels. Weekly housekeeping service (may vary on the hotel). Usually found in walkable locations with groceries nearby. Usually on fairly major bus routes. Usually very pet friendly. There's downsides too, of course. Sometimes extended stay hotels can be more expensive than rent would be - you have to find the right one for you. They can be noisy and filled with unsavory people. They can be kind of run down/unkempt. The rooms are usually -small- and may smell funny. That said, I love the month or so of freedom that staying at one of these places provides so that I can familiarize myself with the new city before making major decisions (such as where to work/sign a year lease).

Hit up the local CL and other job-hunting resources. I've not really had the opportunity to work in a career where you can find a job in one state while still living in another - truly, this is a baffling concept to me. So my job hunt has always began after I've already made it to a new city (and am usually living in a hotel). The reason why I wait to job hunt is because I want hands-on info - what are locals saying? Who's the hot place to work? Who's going down hill? Where's the building located? Can I visit the company easily to find out more? For me, personally, having to determine whether a company would be a good fit via long-distance would be difficult (although I admit this is because of my lack of experience here).

FWIW, I would probably learn to drive before moving to new city. Learning to drive in a familiar area will be far more enjoyable (and less stressful) for you. Additionally, being able to drive before moving means instantly expanding your options/job hunting when you do arrive in new city.

And last, but certainly not least...traveling long-distance with your pets shouldn't be too difficult. I'm from a military family and we moved with pets (dogs, cats, small rodents) fairly regularly. For our cats, which were both large (15-20 lbs), very long hair, and notorious for hating to travel, we purchased 2 airline-approved, enclosed, plastic dog kennels (from Goodwill) large enough for a smaller litter box to fit in. We removed the metal-grid doors and zip-tied the door-entrances together so that the kennel openings faced one another and sat it across the back seat in the car. We had the litter box in one side, and plenty of towels/blankets in the other. The cats, which we shaved into lion cuts if it was a summer trip, hung out in the kennels together, and though they were often vocal for the trip duration, they seemed to handle it OK with such a set-up. FWIW, like most cats in general, ours were finicky about their water dishes and drinking standing water, which we found especially true when traveling (and using those plastic clip-on dishes that come with the kennels). This means they didn't really touch their water. As such, wet food was vital in ensuring they got moisture (to prevent dehydration) and rousing their appetite (because dry food + traveling = vomiting, for our cats anyway).
posted by stubbehtail at 2:40 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone!
Thanks to your advice I've taken a deep breath, and we're now thinking in terms of a tentative one-year plan with a move happening at the end of our lease next year, if we're on track with decluttering/education/housing/etc.

1. New city is 12+ hours drive away, so no casual back-and-forth.

2. Clearing out stuff is absolutely first priority, and planning to fit all of our stuff in one truck to drive up will help a lot to reduce my quasi-hoarder Piles Of Stuff.

3. Was planning to learn to drive on arrival because FIL can teach me, plus I'd have access to borrowable cars, which I don't have here. But the point is well taken, and I'll do my driving stuff here. Driving is also pretty necessary where we're going, so excellent.

4. Experience/training in new field: yep. I'm planning to contact the relevant companies in both cities to see what they require in advance, though due to the nature of the field I suspect they do a lot of the training in-house, but I can do OSHA certification etc. now (I want to become a crime-scene cleaner. Seriously. It's actually a perfect fit.).

5. Yes, staying with the in-laws is viable and we'd all be pretty happy to spend time together, though long-term I go kind of crazy if I don't have my own space. No, they're not ill or anything, but we're all getting older and we really like them and don't want to have any regrets. Also, for certain inheritance legalities, it's desirable for us to establish residence in their province at some point in the hopefully one hundred years we'll have with them before they pass (their idea, and we concur).
Lordy lord, no babies in our future.
Husband and I have already agreed on the ground rules re: family, and we all get on pretty well anyhow.

6. Using the in-laws' address for job-seeking: excellent notion! Hadn't occurred to me.

7. The cat thing: it's not that we have cats to move, it's that we have old cats with renal failure in progress. But we'll manage something.

Thanks again! I am much less panicky now.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 3:41 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

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