Moving to a New City Without a Job

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If you're planning a move but don't have a job in the new location yet, don't worry. People do this all the time, and often it's an unavoidable situation. It does take a little more work and determination (and perhaps some luck). But most important, you should prepare yourself for the move to avoid the most common pitfalls. 

Calculate Costs

The first step in preparing to move without a job is to ensure you have enough money to live on while looking for employment in the new city or town. This is in addition to all  moving-related costs. Take into consideration either six months rent or a solid down payment, plus food, living expenses, and utilities.

Part of this decision is your confidence in, and prospects for, finding a new job. Consider your skills and any contacts or networks you will have in the new location as well as how flexible you are in your employment goals. If it's likely that you can find work relatively quickly, or you are willing to take a temporary job to tide you over, you may not need as much financial reserves as if you're looking for a long-term position or you have very specific skills or work in a narrow market.

Research the Job Market

To determine a reasonable timeframe for finding a new job, research the job market in the new location. Is it generally robust, and will your skills be in demand? Also, be honest about what kind of job you'd be willing to take if needed, and consider the availability of "backup" employment. You can find employment market information through headhunters and employment agencies and by looking at 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. You also might note that you'd be willing to fly or drive in for an interview before your actual move date, if applicable.

Get a Local Cell Phone Number

One easy way to get a local employer to pay attention to your application is to ensure you have a local contact phone number and address. Of course, an address is difficult to obtain if you haven't found a place to live, but a new cell phone number is relatively simple, depending on your service provider. A local phone number sends a subtle message that you are part of the community and plan to stay.

How to Rent a New Home

One of the hardest parts about moving to 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 and information you'll need to bring with you to help with the rental process:

  • Landlord contact information from the past three residences, to be used as references
  • Written recommendations from previous landlords (if you can get them); recommendations can help push your rental application to the top of the pile
  • Bank statements
  • Recent credit rating records (if available)
  • Employment contact information (past and present)
  • Blank checks from a local checking account

Keep in mind that if you're in a hot rental marketplace, landlords may choose local residents with a local employment history first because their references are much easier to check, and landlords who work for property companies may feel that applications from locals will be more readily accepted by their supervisors. This means that you need to go the extra mile 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 6 to 12 months.