Relocating to a New City Without a Job

Smiling couple sitting at table in home reading newspaper together
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If you're planning a move but don't have a job in the new location yet, don't worry.  You can move without a job - just know that it takes a little more work, determination and yes, some luck. But you'll find you can make it work if you're willing to trust yourself.  

Calculate Costs

The first step is to ensure you have enough money to live on while looking for employment in the new city or town. This should be in addition to all your moving costs. Take into consideration either six months rent or a solid down-payment plus food, living expenses, utilities and other moving in costs. We usually have at least three months of living expenses in the bank before we'd attempt to move without employment. This also depends on your skills, your contacts and network in the new location and how flexible you are in your employment goals. With our family, my skill set can usually land me a decent job within a two-week period, simply because I have such a varied background. My husband, on the other hand, has a very defined skill set and usually takes longer for him to find the perfect job.

Research the Job Market

To determine a reasonable time frame for finding a new job, you'll need to know the job market in the new location - whether it is hot or not and if your particular skills are in demand - and be honest about what kind of job you'd be willing to take if needed.

Employment market information can often be found through headhunters, employment agencies and by looking at the local job placement ads in newspapers and on employment websites.

If possible, start sending your resume to employers before you move, noting in the cover letter your move dates and when you'll be available for interviews: include if you'd be willing to fly-in/drive-in for an interview before your actual move date, too.

Get a Local Cell Phone Number

The easiest way to get a local employer to pay attention to your application is to ensure you have a local contact phone number and address. An address is more difficult to obtain if you haven't found a place to live; however, a new cell phone number is relatively simple depending on your provider. Ask about getting a phone number for your new location; it's worth the extra cost and will come in handy when it comes time to move, too.

How to Rent a New Home

The hardest part about moving to another new city is finding a place to live, whether you're buying or renting; trying to find a place to live without a job is even more difficult.

If you're renting, even for a short period of time, there are some documents you'll need to bring with you to help with the rental process:

  • Landlord contact information from the past three residences; this information will be used as references
  • If possible, obtain written recommendations from previous landlords - I've found that letters often push our application to the top of the pile
  • Bank statements
  • Recent credit rating records (if available)
  • Employment contact information (past and present)
  • Checking account from local bank - bring blank checks with you to the viewing

Without employment, keep in mind that if you're in a hot rental marketplace, landlords may choose local residents with a local employment history first, just because their references are much easier to check and to know that their applications will be accepted. This means that you need to go the extra mile to try to convince the rental agent that you're the best choice. Sometimes this requires a few months rent up front or at least proof that you have enough resources to pay the rent for the next six months to a year.

And if possible, it's best to try to rent a place in the new city while still employed in the old. For our more recent move this past year, my husband and I made the decision to live separately for a few months in order to complete our move. Needing to rent a place for a short period of time, I moved first, giving my husband's employer contact information as proof of employment status. Most rental agents were okay with this arrangement even though my husband was a thousand miles away. Most larger rental agencies only need to fill in the blanks on the application form and as long as the references are confirmed, this is sometimes all that's needed to ensure your success.