What order to do this in?
June 25, 2017 2:35 PM   Subscribe

I live in NYC and want to move back to the (general) area I grew up in, about three hours north in Western MA. I have friends and some family there and I want to be close to them and away from the city, and I want to live someplace quieter, with more green space and less hubbub. I'd like to do it in the next 12 months, hopefully less. In order to do this, I will need to acquire housing and a job. I'm trying to figure out the best way to go about it. What order do I do it in?

I don’t think I will be able to do my current job remotely, but I haven't asked. I *can* do *a* job like mine remotely. But I would also be within commuting distance of Albany and Amherst so these are possibilities for work. I don't expect to make as much as I do in NYC. I'm budgeting accordingly.

I have prequalified for a modest mortgage and have some savings. (This mortgage qual is based on my current salary, which means that if I can’t do my current job remotely, I will have to be reevaluated based on a new salary. My credit + savings are good enough that I don't imagine qualifying for a mortgage under these conditions would be difficult.)

I’ve thought about renting an apartment for awhile, rather than buying a place right away, but I’m apprehensive for a couple reasons: One, it would mean that I’d have to move twice (assuming I buy a house after living up there), two, the rental market is highly inflated compared to the housing market, so I would end up having to spend a lot of the money I’d set aside for a down payment on rent + incidentals. I worry that once I get up there I won't be able to save as much money as I can currently.

What do I do? Do I try to get a job, then move into a rental? Do I buy a house, move, then try to get a job? Do I get a rental, then try to find a job? I assume the answer is obvious to anyone other than me. Please chime in. For the record, I'm a single woman in her early 40s. I have been gainfully employed for 18+ years, doing professional communications/PR/writing/editing.

(Bonus question: How does one go about getting a job in advance of relocation? I'm not entirely sure. Do I disguise the fact that I'm not living locally?)
posted by cowboy_sally to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where in Western Mass? Depending on where you are going, the job and rental market is pretty tight. You can memail me if you want.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 2:36 PM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

lakersfan1222: Middle Berkshire County, if that helps.
posted by cowboy_sally at 2:37 PM on June 25, 2017

Whenever I have sought to move, I have done so by applying for jobs in the new place. Then the company paid my relocation expenses after hiring me. YMMV, based on industry/career specifics.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's good that you're doing advance planning on this. I would suggest focus on job first, then housing later. The other way around can lead to more stress, because you don't have your income sorted out. Some suggestions:

Plant the seeds - reach out to your network to let everyone know you are interested in moving back, so your friends can let you know if there's companies to look at or can make important intros. Depending on your relationship with your boss, you can let her/him know, and see if a remote job arrangement can work out. If that's not an avenue you want to pursue, then it doesn't hurt to start early on a job search.
Job search - at the top of your resume, note that you are looking specifically for roles in Western Mass. You can list your current contact info as usual. Ask around for some good recruiters to work with, but ideally best route is to find companies and hiring managers directly. Budget for some trips back to job search in earnest, and make the most of networking while there.
Housing - once you have some more solid prospects, then see if it's possible to stay with friends or family for a couple months as you start a new job? That would prepare you better for potential location/commute, looking for an apartment, or decide if it's the right time to buy property.
posted by hampanda at 3:06 PM on June 25, 2017

Agreed on the job first, then housing. I recently applied for a job in Ottawa (a couple of hours away by car) and the company had indicated that help with relocation costs was something I could look forward to if I were the successful candidate.

(I wasn't, but it was really nice to know that would have been something they would have helped with.)

Having said that, it was a large company I was applying to. I wouldn't expect this from a smaller company unless you are THE perfect candidate for an urgently-needed role.
posted by juliebug at 3:15 PM on June 25, 2017

Job first, then housing.

It's wise to rent first. If you don't, you'll find yourself trying to house-hunt, negotiate, and close at long distance and that would be a huge pain in the butt. Perhaps you can find a month-to-month rental, or even a furnished temp rental, and keep most of your stuff in storage while you house hunt. Also, it will really help you to get to know the area intimately, in specific, as an adult, before you commit. Finally, once you know what your job/income actually will be and start living that routine, you will have enough real information to optimize your home purchase to your commute (or work at home situation, should that be the outcome).

Though incomes are lower on average in Western MA, home prices are not necessarily. It is a desirable area and there are a lot of second homes, which creates pressure on the market and drives modest-house prices upward. You may need a fair amount of time to search - and that's another reason not to delay your move, but get to where your move will go easier.

Relocation usually costs money. That's just the way it is. You might be lucky enough to have an employer cover some of your moving expenses, but even so, it's likely there'll be more expenses than that will cover. So it's wise to be prepared to run through a bit of your savings. You will need furniture adapted to your new place, stuff to set up your house with (little hardware bits, storage stuff, etc), a handful of trips back and forth, various fees for setting up new services and having your doctors' records forwarded, etc. So yes, you can do it in a money-saving manner, but it might be a good idea to get your head around accepting that relocation is a major life change, more so the more of an adult you are, and it is an investment in the future - so it might require temporary expenditures, like a few months' rent, but in the end you will, presumably, be happier and more settled. Good luck.
posted by Miko at 6:34 PM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

We basically did this three years ago, from Boston to Berkshires. I couldn't have fathomed doing it without a job first, or without renting first, but maybe you have a really nice financial cushion? As mentioned and as you know, there aren't a ton of great paying professional jobs nearby. If you are willing to do Albany/Springfield/Amherst, at least for me living in a spot that makes the commute as painless as possible is highly important, so maybe if you get job first, you could buy instead of rent since you'd know what you need. Also isn't the rental market kind of all over the place (in other words, it's very possible to rent for cheaper without compromising a lot). That was our situation so we very happily rented after I got my job. Then we bought right near my job, and then I very unexpectedly found, interviewed for, and got a much more desirable job 40 minutes away. Two of my good friends also did it in exactly that order. (Job, rent, buy, new job).

It bugs me that I'm spending more time and money on a commute, and if we move again more money on a house, but that's just part of working and living in the Berkshires without extreme wealth I guess?! Good luck!!
posted by wannabecounselor at 3:37 AM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Aha! I had a feeling the answer was obvious, and your relative unanimity seems to prove that. Thank you, all, for your helpful and thorough responses.
posted by cowboy_sally at 1:25 PM on June 26, 2017

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