Advice on moving across country

I'm planning on moving to California from Maryland pretty much as soon as I graduate (I'm almost a junior in college now). I've decided it's most definitely where I want to live, but I'm not sure how to go about making such a big move like that.

For those who have moved across the country, what advice do you have? How should I go about it? I really want to make this move happen, but I'm pretty much running on empty here as far as knowledge on it goes.

Get a job now. Save money. Get a job lined up THERE before you move.
Get a job now. Save money. Get a job lined up THERE before you move.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
Approximately how much money would I need to save up, though?

I moved from LA to NYC when I was in my 20's and it was awesome, but I also had a job that I could have anywhere (consulting) and being east coast was actually easier for me since I worked with Pharma companies who are primarily based on the east coast.

It was a fantastic adventure and I have zero regrets- but I do think you have to have a pretty good chunk of change if you are going after you graduate and without a "career" established or a job. You need to be able to support yourself for a few months with no or very little income- it would be great if you got a job right off the bat, but if you don't? That kind of move is hard to undo.

So save, save, save.... start networking in the area you want to work and research the areas you want to move too. Apartments are expensive in LA and the Bay Area some areas are very shady- I grew up in Orange County and lived in LA for a long time too-I also worked in the San Jose/San Fran area for a couple of years- are you looking at So Cal or NoCal?
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Get a job now. Save money. Get a job lined up THERE before you move.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
Approximately how much money would I need to save up, though?
Originally Posted by J.S.M.
Where are you planning on living?

If you are talking LA/OC you need to plan on 700-1000 for rent, 150-200 for utilities, cable, etc. Then incidentals- food, fun, clothes, cell phone, etc...

I would say you need about 5K minimum to float you for a few months if finding a job is hard- you can always get *any* job (waitress, etc) but even those jobs can be competitive right now, so it really depends...

Take a look at Craigslist for the area you are looking to move, see what rents are, that will give you an idea of your biggest expense (Housing)- then add in the rest to get an idea of what you need to live on a month.
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Yes, as Scuba said, 5k minimum. I was thinking more along the line of 10,000.
I moved from LA to NYC when I was in my 20's and it was awesome, but I also had a job that I could have anywhere (consulting) and being east coast was actually easier for me since I worked with Pharma companies who are primarily based on the east coast.

It was a fantastic adventure and I have zero regrets- but I do think you have to have a pretty good chunk of change if you are going after you graduate and without a "career" established or a job. You need to be able to support yourself for a few months with no or very little income- it would be great if you got a job right off the bat, but if you don't? That kind of move is hard to undo.

So save, save, save.... start networking in the area you want to work and research the areas you want to move too. Apartments are expensive in LA and the Bay Area some areas are very shady- I grew up in Orange County and lived in LA for a long time too-I also worked in the San Jose/San Fran area for a couple of years- are you looking at So Cal or NoCal?
Originally Posted by Scuba Gal
I'm looking at Southern Cali. Can you suggest any decent neighborhoods that aren't overly expensive? I've been looking into it, but it's kind of hard to really tell what's a good neighborhood and what's now when you don't actually live in the state.

Where are you planning on living?

If you are talking LA/OC you need to plan on 700-1000 for rent, 150-200 for utilities, cable, etc. Then incidentals- food, fun, clothes, cell phone, etc...

I would say you need about 5K minimum to float you for a few months if finding a job is hard- you can always get *any* job (waitress, etc) but even those jobs can be competitive right now, so it really depends...

Take a look at Craigslist for the area you are looking to move, see what rents are, that will give you an idea of your biggest expense (Housing)- then add in the rest to get an idea of what you need to live on a month.
Originally Posted by Scuba Gal
Wow, 5-10k seems like a bit of long-shot at this point, but I guess I really shouldn't be too surprised since I don't expect to just get buy on my looks. I want to move there with my SO and live with him. Does that change the amount I need to save?

Thanks to you both for the advice! Other suggestions are welcome.

5K is definitely a minimum. It would help you to sit down and work through some basic costs:

- Cost of moving. At the absolute low end, you could move all your things in a car, or pack two suitcases and take a plane. Either way, this is going to run you about $400 as an absolute minimum. If you want to take your things with you and require a Uhaul truck, moving pod or something similar, expect the moving cost to be at least $1000.

- Since you're in college, you'll need to factor in the cost of furnishing an apartment (especially if you choose to only move your clothes to CA). You can do this pretty cheaply if you use sources like craigslist, but I would still budget $1000 at a minimum.

- Deposit and first month's rent. Just about any apartment you rent will require first month's rent and a deposit equal to the first month's rent at the time of signing a lease. This means for an $800/month apartment you need to have $1600 cash on hand to even secure a place. Many landlords ask for first and last month's rent in addition to the deposit (bringing you up to $2400).

- Money to buy basic food, supplies, etc. upon moving in. Having to rebuy everything after moving gets really expensive! Budget at least $300 for this (I suggest closer to $500).

So, as you can see, even if you have a job set up before moving, it's still a good idea to have at least 5K on hand to take care of moving costs...moving is VERY expensive (and often in unexpected ways!). The more money you save, the better off you'll be. When I got my first place, I had no idea I'd need so much money for deposit and first/last month's rent - I simply didn't have that much cash in my bank account and had to save up before I could make it happen.
5K is definitely a minimum. It would help you to sit down and work through some basic costs:

- Cost of moving. At the absolute low end, you could move all your things in a car, or pack two suitcases and take a plane. Either way, this is going to run you about $400 as an absolute minimum. If you want to take your things with you and require a Uhaul truck, moving pod or something similar, expect the moving cost to be at least $1000.
Originally Posted by goldilocks777
Agreed.. I moved myself from NY to FL and I did it in a Uhaul. Spent about $800 just in gas for the 1100 mile trip, and about $200 for the rental (I returned it after two days). I would have gladly spent an extra $200-300 to get a moving company to move my furniture for me. Remember, if you use a Uhaul you have to physically move your own furniture into your new place. After a cross-country drive you may not be in the mood to carry that heavy bed, tv set, or hutch up two or three flights of stairs.
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So Cal is a bit too big a loophole, you need to narrow it down a bit more-

Orange County, Los Angeles or San Diego. I think it really depends on jobs too- what type of jobs do you want to get?

There are a lot of pockets of LA that are safe, but even a 1B/1B apartment is going to run you 1000.00 + a month. A small condo even more- utilities will run you around 50-100 for cable/internet depending on options, water, gas, electricity- 50-100/mo depending on what is covered. Parking is more tricky in a lot of LA neighborhoods-I lived in West Hollywood and it was a great location, but I think I paid 1500.00/mo for a 1b condo- and this was 6 years ago- The problem with LA is the commute can be brutal if you pick to live in say- Santa Monica and work in the Valley. I had an office literally 4.2 miles from my house-a straight shot down Santa Monica Blvd into Beverly Hills area- that 4 mile drive could take me over 20-30 minutes on a regular basis. For 4 miles!

LA is very sprawled out- but areas that are good and safe- Santa Monica, West Hollywood, parts of Hollywood, Los Feliz, Beverly Hills, West LA, Burbank, Silver Lake- "West Side" areas are good- Downtown LA has gone a major "overhaul" to try to be more trendy and hip- buildings converted into Lofts, but it was changing when I moved so I am not sure how much has happened- Downtown LA use to be super scary, dead after 5pm, etc- I stayed about 3 years ago at a hotel when I was in town and it seemed up and coming...

Orange County is a totally different beast- and again- living in an area like Huntington Beach (where I grew up) vs. South Orange County (Laguna, Aliso Hills, Dana Point, etc) the traffic can be brutal if you live in Huntington Beach but have to drive to Mission Viejo for work as an example.... it too, is very sprawled out.

Then there are a ton of in between pockets- Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, etc...

I think you have to have a bit more of a game plan and if you goal is to "live in LA" then I would probably suggest the West Side or some pockets of Hollywood or Los Feliz... I would avoid the Valley personally..
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I lived in West Hollywood too! It was about 7 years ago. I was lucky to have a parking spot that "came" with my apartment, but my apartment wasn't cheap. My commute every day was just over 6 miles and it took me about an hour each way. It's not all beaches and sunshine. Just saying.
I lived in West Hollywood too! It was about 7 years ago. I was lucky to have a parking spot that "came" with my apartment, but my apartment wasn't cheap. My commute every day was just over 6 miles and it took me about an hour each way. It's not all beaches and sunshine. Just saying.
Originally Posted by Like.Australia
I live in San Diego and that is CRAZY. I know traffic is worse up there but I didn't realize it was that much worse. Ours is bad, but I live 23 miles from work and depending on what time I leave the house (my office doesn't care when we come in), it can take 22 to 35 minutes. We do have people who live 50 or more miles away because it's a lot cheaper and they can take up to an hour each way. Most of them come in really early like by 6 AM so that they can beat the traffic.
Yep, it was W. Hollywood to downtown LA. Pretty much a straight shot down... I can't remember now. Of course, I didn't MIND the commute because I was 20 and didn't mind sitting in my little convertible in perfect 70 degree weather for an hour. However, I would NOT be happy doing that isht now!
I live in OC. I once lived less than 2 miles from the office in Newport Beach, and it would take me 30-45 minutes after work to get home. Seriously.

Its really hard to explain this area and traffic. Because everything is so spread out, you just need to factor a long commute time. Of course there are times that traffic is good, but since you don't know where you will be working, it is sort of a situation of: pick a place and work with it.

I currently live in the "pocket" between LA and OC. South Bay area-ish. I live in a duplex (1bd/1ba) and I pay over 1000 a month. Cable is over 100 (just basic and internet) and other bills run me about 150 more. My cell is over 100.... you get the picture. I work about 20 miles from home and have mapped out a route that gets me to work in 1 hour (yeah. that is as good as I can do) and 40-45 minutes home.

Scuba Gal explained So Cal pretty well and the good areas. You can also check out Anaheim (parts) as well as Fullerton, Yorba Linda, etc. Or Cypress, Cerritos (in LA County but a border city), Buena Park, Santa Ana has good areas (especially South Coast area and the area north of the courthouse between Broadway and Bristol).

Rents can get pretty steep though. When I was looking, it was pretty impossible to find a place that has air conditioning for under 1000. And in the summer, I need me some a/c as the temps can get into the 90s and 100s. I would definitely suggest checking out Craigslist for OC and LA. You could always ask here about some of the areas you saw something you liked in, but it is practically impossible to tell you what areas are safe and not safe in all of So Cal.

But the one thing I was to say is that you will need a car. Nothing is close by to anything else unless you live in the Hollywood area, where the public transportation actually exists.

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I live in OC. I once lived less than 2 miles from the office in Newport Beach, and it would take me 30-45 minutes after work to get home. Seriously.

Its really hard to explain this area and traffic. Because everything is so spread out, you just need to factor a long commute time. Of course there are times that traffic is good, but since you don't know where you will be working, it is sort of a situation of: pick a place and work with it.

I currently live in the "pocket" between LA and OC. South Bay area-ish. I live in a duplex (1bd/1ba) and I pay over 1000 a month. Cable is over 100 (just basic and internet) and other bills run me about 150 more. My cell is over 100.... you get the picture. I work about 20 miles from home and have mapped out a route that gets me to work in 1 hour (yeah. that is as good as I can do) and 40-45 minutes home.

Scuba Gal explained So Cal pretty well and the good areas. You can also check out Anaheim (parts) as well as Fullerton, Yorba Linda, etc. Or Cypress, Cerritos (in LA County but a border city), Buena Park, Santa Ana has good areas (especially South Coast area and the area north of the courthouse between Broadway and Bristol).

Rents can get pretty steep though. When I was looking, it was pretty impossible to find a place that has air conditioning for under 1000. And in the summer, I need me some a/c as the temps can get into the 90s and 100s. I would definitely suggest checking out Craigslist for OC and LA. You could always ask here about some of the areas you saw something you liked in, but it is practically impossible to tell you what areas are safe and not safe in all of So Cal.

But the one thing I was to say is that you will need a car. Nothing is close by to anything else unless you live in the Hollywood area, where the public transportation actually exists.
Originally Posted by Curlyminx
Even then, I never really felt comfortable on it. I suppose it could've improved in the last few years, but I would definitely agree that you need a car in that area. I had a friend who moved without one and she was constantly bumming rides.
I moved cross-country with only about $700. However, I was staying with someone else until I found my own apartment (took a month), I only brought what I could fit in my car and gas was cheaper 5+ years ago. But how much you spend depends on how you travel, too. I took my time getting to my destination, so it cost a little more. (A former work colleague drove across the country with his wife in three days and slept in their car; I broke up the driving over five days, stopped to tour Mount Rushmore and slept in motels.)

So unless you already have a friend or family member out there who will help you, yeah, you're probably going to need at least $5K, especially if rent is expensive and you don't have a job waiting for you.

Creating a budget would be a good idea. Make a list of all the things you'll need to buy and make an educated guess as to how much they'll cost. Over-estimate to be on the safe side. As others mentioned, research the average rent for the type of apartments you're interested in: try rent.com, apartments.com and Craigslist. Go to fuelcostcalculator.com to get an idea of what gas will cost you, and check U-Haul's prices for trailers and any packing/moving equipment you may need.

I looked into renting apartments without a job. Most places wouldn't consider renting without proof of income. A few places said they'd allow us to rent if we could prove we had over $5,000 in our checking/savings account.

If you're going to try to get a job before going, you may need to fly to CA for a week for interviews, unless you can get the employer to interview you over the phone.

Here's how my budget is worked out if we ever move to a new state:
  • Rent (first, last, deposit, pet deposit/pet rent)
  • Utility hookup and Internet activation fees
  • Gas
  • Motel/food for the trip
  • U-Haul
  • Groceries
  • Furniture replacing
  • Emergency/Unplanned funds (whatever you feel comfortable with)
If you're moving with your boyfriend, he can split the costs with you. Cut back on unnecessary purchases and put as much into savings as you can.

If you and your boyfriend are up to it, you could also try to see about getting a roommate. There are usually some listings on Craigslist for that, and it would cut down on your move-in costs.
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Last edited by automaticflowers; 02-24-2011 at 01:51 PM.
Thanks for the help, everyone! It really has cleared a lot of things up for me.

Just another question: instead of Southern Cali, then, what do you think about the areas around San Jose? Is it generally unsafe or overly expensive around there?

There are parts of San Jose that are a little sketchy but mostly San Jose- and especially the surrounding areas like Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Saratoga, and all the other small places- are extremely safe. However, rents are probably a little steep. The bay area is expensive, especially in the middle of the silicon valley. I don't know any specifics for that area, but in San Francisco my sister shares a 3 bedroom apartment in a mostly safe area for about $800-1000 a month, which was a fantastic deal compared to the other places she looked at.
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Thanks for the help, everyone! It really has cleared a lot of things up for me.

Just another question: instead of Southern Cali, then, what do you think about the areas around San Jose? Is it generally unsafe or overly expensive around there?
Originally Posted by J.S.M.
The bay area is about as pricey as SoCalifornia.. it isn't as bad as it was during the .com craze (I lived in a corp apt in Cupertino while I worked at Apple) but it is pricey. Obviously San Fran is more expensive than San Jose, but I would say it is on par for the desirable areas as SoCal.
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Yep, it was W. Hollywood to downtown LA. Pretty much a straight shot down... I can't remember now. Of course, I didn't MIND the commute because I was 20 and didn't mind sitting in my little convertible in perfect 70 degree weather for an hour. However, I would NOT be happy doing that isht now!
Originally Posted by Like.Australia

My friend moved to LA and mentioned how bad the traffic was. But he said when he looked out the window and saw palm trees everyday, it was just worth it.

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