How I Prepared to Relocate and Made it Work

2009 May 18
by Grace Boyle

My disclaimer: I’ve relocated twice in the past five years, both times were over 1500 miles away. I’m may not be an expert, but I’ve done it both times with general success and I am a proponent, especially while you’re young. This is my candid advice on how to prepare to relocate for a career.


My relocation journey: Vermont–Iowa–Colorado, 2004-2008

You’re ready for something new. You’re ready to leave your hometown. You’re about to graduate college and don’t want to move back home. You’re not alone. revealed in a study that 85% of Gen Y indicated they were interested in relocating inside the country, and 70% even said they’d consider moving abroad if presented with the right opportunity.

This is how I planned my relocation:

Pick cities that are analogous to the industry you want to work in. If location is important to you, then focus on a place you’re dying to check out and live in but be sure the career you’re looking for is available. Check out listings like top cities for recent grads or Forbes’ Best Places for Business And Careers.

Create a relocation strategy. Basic planning such as financial saving, picking a date to move, potentially visiting the city prior to your move, finding a place to live and budgeting are all important in relocating. Don’t undershoot with your finances. Preparation is key.

Seek to acclimate yourself as much as possible to the local economy, media, business and lifestyle of the city of your choice. Before I moved, I subscribed to Boulder’s top newspapers, contacted the Boulder Business Bureau for a relocation package, regularly read articles about Boulder, created an RSS feed for “Boulder” on Search.Twitter and conversed with people already in Boulder through e-mail and Twitter.

Leverage your resources. I contacted my Alumni office and asked them to generate a list of graduates who currently lived and worked in Boulder. I then asked everyone I knew (professionally and personally) if they knew someone in Boulder. This ‘networking list’ I generated eventually led to my current job.

Research and be proactive. Where do you want to work? What kind of employers are in your choice city? I created a document of the companies I wanted to work for in Boulder. I researched them, found out who worked there, connected with them on LinkedIn and kept tabs on their job listings. By the time I got to Boulder, I was well aware of businesses in Boulder and where I wanted to work.

-Stay on employers radar. Although I was traveling a bit prior to my move and living in my hometown I would consistently e-mail my ‘network list’ to stay in touch which helped to establish a relationship with them. When my moving date was finalized and when I heard a company had a new job opening, I would get back in touch. It’s important to be persistent within reason. Once employers or contacts saw that I was coming soon, I arranged for interviews 2-4 days after I arrived. It feels good to arrive with appointments, meetings and interviews.

Be open minded and ready for adventure. Sometimes I felt like I was climbing an uphill battle, but in my deepest moment of frustration and confusion, I remembered I made this move for me and the adventure it would bring. Don’t be easily discouraged and be flexible. There is room for career growth and change. Shooting for the moon is admirable, but remember there are many other stars and constellations to learn from in the meantime.

You’re not crazy for wanting to relocate even during these times. In fact, many graduates have to consider relocating if they want to obtain their preferred job. The more open you are to relocation, potentially the more opportunities will be available to you.

Go for it.

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  • Brett Borders

    This is a great post that provides value and help for people. I have relocated a couple of times and it has always been an adventure. It takes me an average of one to two years to get settled and feel like I really “know” people and the town.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Brett that's an interesting point…wondering when you finally be acclimated to a new city (perhaps another post in the making)! I think it takes me a year, but I definitely jump right in. I like to take time for myself, but I also think that by being proactive you can meet a lot of people, attend events, research, and find your niche. Community is important to me, so I like to feel integrated as soon as it's naturally possible. This of course, varies for many different people.

  • Carlos Miceli

    Wow, this is such a valuable post. Great info for anyone pursuing the goal. I have to say that I agree with every advice here, since I'm already practicing a few now that I'm leaving to study in another country. Great post Grace, your writing is an absolute delight.

  • LouisM

    very helpful article! I’m looking to relocate from NY to CA by the end of the year. There are job openings in my current profession on the West Coast, but the whole idea of taking that big of a step and moving away from my friends and family (and out onto my own for the first time in my life) is what scares me.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Carlos Thanks! If I hear one person say this post was valuable, then my job is done :) I wanted to candidly share my experience because recently a lot of friends have been asking me how to go about relocating. Having it all in once place definitely helps. Thanks for your kind words, Carlos.

  • heartbot

    Don't forget that once you are there, you should get involved! It's one thing to relocate and have a job lined up and a place to live. It's quite another, though, to make a life in a new city (outside of work.) Look into what kinds of activities, clubs or programs are available in the city, and start asking about how you can get involved BEFORE you move. :)

    I've relocated three times since graduating college (Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle.) Getting involved can make a huge difference in how happy you are in a given location.

  • Lisa

    Wow, I wish I read this months ago. So helpful and full of insight! Even though I have already made the big move, many of your tips are still very applicable and can definitely help with the settling-in process. Thank you! :)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Heartbot It's very true. I focused mostly on the general preparation (another blog post coming about making a living, once you've made the move) 😉 I actually joined a few outdoors groups and then found out about a lot of events in Boulder. This is how I met many of my first (and still) friends.

    I would say preparing is the easiest part. It's maintaining and living successfully once you move, that's the hard part. With three recent moves, you definitely know how that goes. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lauren

    Thanks so much for this post. It's just the inspiration I'm looking for. It helps to have a plan to stick to and things to cross off the old to-do list. Glad to see it worked for you. Hope something similar works out for me too.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Lauren Thanks for the validation and again, any help I can be, please let me know. I see on your blog update that you're looking to visit Colorado this summer, if I read correctly, and you're in the Boulder/Denver area look me up! I also hope that relocating/moving works out for you, which I'm sure it will. These are just a few guidelines that worked for me.

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  • George

    You sound like an insecure person, so I'm amazed you were actually hired. But, I guess that's how thing roll these days. People only hiring people they know, regardless of skill. Oh.. and just wait until marijuana is legalized. Then we'll see “networking” exclusivity go to the next level.

  • Grace Boyle

    @George Thanks for your insight since you don't know me, at all. Last I heard, insecure people don't move across the country, multiple times, land jobs, graduate college at the top of their class, live abroad and find success. I guess that's just me.

    Also, I didn't know anyone at my company.

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  • theswan8

    This is really wonderful relocation advice thank you, I’m moving in the spring to a home 1,600 miles away. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this so it’s quiet daunting and I have the habit of panicking easily.

  • theswan8

    This is really wonderful relocation advice thank you, I’m moving in the spring to a home 1,600 miles away. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this so it’s quiet daunting and I have the habit of panicking easily.

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  • Sferna1

    This is a great article. Especially when its so close to moving time, just another godwink telling me Im onto the right thing. Great tips, loved reading this. Im sure I will be making use of the alumni tip. I never thought that I could just go to my university alumni office and ask for contacts like that.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Sferna1 Glad you enjoyed it. I hope it helps you in your move! Thanks for stopping by.

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  • totem111

    Great article, planning every little detail is the way to make sure relocation goes smoothly. I always take the type to research for the very best local moving services to avoid problems after having bad experiences in the past.

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    Really great post.. Thanks for sharing this to us! Being relocated is not easy cause you have to adjust yourself to fit in but it is fun as well, new place and met new friends but by fallowing with this information, I’m pretty sure you’ll love the place.

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  • Mathew Leonard

    Really good planning indeed. Everything nicely planned.

  • Joesublett

    Thank you for sharing your insight. It is interesting that I am planning to relocate to Denver in a few weeks myself. It was good to be reminded that I am making the move for myself as things are beginning to feel pressured. This move is to be the adventure of my lifetime as I intend to start a new business and a new life.

  • Grace Boyle

    Good for you :) It takes some time and there are rough patches, but it becomes so worth it for the adventure you’re going through. Best of luck. Make sure to have fun and try to worry (less) :)

  • Carolgstratton

    I think you have a great article for those newly graduated. Planning is the key, to have a feel for the community where you want to relocate. Moving can be such a stimulating experience if you have the right attitude.

    Carol Stratton

  • Pru Harrison

    Thank you .Best   tips for relocation i had ever came across to .Well planned &well executed ..

  • Elizabeth Claire

     I did relocate my self for my job. Moving companies was so expensive and my company did not even paid for my move.I think rather then the hiring traditional moving companies renting your own truck and hiring moving labor to help just loading, unloading, packing, unpacking will save you lots of money.

  • Lora DeSchepper

    How hard is it to get a place to live when you don’t have a job in that area yet?  Could you give me some insight into this process?