How to move across the country after college

Here’s some food for thought if you decide to buy a one-way ticket across the country for your first job.


Let’s say…

You just graduated after four years of studying at an in-state university. You feel like you have a lot to look forward to, but you’re not resting on your laurels.

After four years in Richmond, over twenty years in Virginia, and a couple weeklong work trips across the US, you think it’s time to move on to bigger and better cities.

You have a great network of professionals and peers alike you’ve met throughout your college career and a resume that you worked to make stand out. Walking across the stage with that diploma has you set up to believe you are going to be doing great things with your degree.

You should be all set to go. Right?

But here’s the deal: landing a job is harder than you expect it to be, even with a Bachelor’s in Economics.

But, you keep faith that the four years of business school, the four years of work experience and some hard work on a memorable resume will eventually get you noticed.

How did people apply to jobs before the Internet? Actually, I don’t wanna know.

You stumble upon a LinkedIn job posting so cool it puts Phoenix on the map for you. It was always one of those cities you thought sounded cool, even if it has a hot reputation. You’ve never been, but it’s a major US city, so it has to be filled with opportunities, right?

Might as well apply. It takes two seconds. You’ve got nothing to lose.

You get an interview, and, practice makes perfect, so you ace it. You realize during the subsequent interviews that the job’s in the field you want, the culture you would flourish in and you can see yourself staying with the company long term.

They give you the offer after a month or so, and you couldn’t be happier.

You tell all your friends, and they all tell you it’s gonna be hot in Arizona. You roll your eyes and tell them you can handle it. You tell your parents, and they are sad, but supportive and say they will help you out in any way they can.

With that, the decision been made.

You’re moving from Richmond, VA to Phoenix for a great opportunity to prove yourself at a great company that’s open to listening to your ideas.

With the guaranteed offer and peace of mind that you’re making a great decision, you’ve got the “where” and the “why” locked down. But “how” are you gonna do it? And, like, “what” about all your stuff?

You’ve moved three times to three different apartments in four years. You’re not even from the US. By now, you know how to downsize.

You narrow it down to your essentials. You can leave your desk, bed and TV behind because it’ll probably be cheaper to buy brand new ones anyway. You drop a hundred bucks on a new suitcase to fit as many clothes in as possible. Easy.

You tell yourself it’s time for a fresh start anyway. But then you think about the clothes. Can’t go to work naked. Your shoes aren’t all going to fit in that suitcase, and your desktop PC definitely won’t, and there’s no way you’re leaving that behind.

Then it occurs to you — it’s time to invest in a car. Not because you’re going to drive it 2500 miles across the United States, but because you’ll probably still need a cosigner and your easiest access to that will be on the east coast. And also because Arizona is definitely a place where you’ll have to drive, so buying a car there as one of the first tasks before you even start your job is a little too much to handle on top of everything else.

So your next decision made is to get a new set of wheels. You pick a used car to save some dough for the road. The dealership tells you it’s “graphite pearl,” but you know it’s just gray. There goes $8000 that won’t feel like $8000.

But that’s not a problem, so on to the next one. The one where you actually have to move it across the country. But, just because you’re not willing to drive it (you’re not) doesn’t mean nobody will. Time to find a professional moving company.

There goes $1200 and 2 hours of phone calls. But, put some of your stuff in the trunk and you’ve suddenly solved your first problem.

But then the moving company asks you where to drop off your car. Yikes, didn’t think that far ahead. I mean, you did, finding an apartment was the next thing on your list, but maybe it should have been first. And then you realize you’re completely uncomfortable with making a decision about an apartment without at least checking it out first. Sensible, as always.

“Entire Home”

You consider the company’s address, but you don’t want that to be your first impression, and also, you’ll have to get there still. And then you consider a hotel. And then you remember that AirBnb exists.

So you download the app, find a great place to stay for a week, and you realize that, with this, two problems have solved themselves. You asked the host if you can get the car dropped off at his place and he says yes. You also decide to stay for a week (for the low, low price of $300) so that you have a place to sleep while you simultaneously look for apartments and explore the city.

And there you have it. This is it. It’s the perfect plan.

So, back to getting there. You’re definitely not going to drive across the country, but you’re willing to fly. Your job starts in three weeks, so you go ahead and get the one-way plane ticket a few days before your car arrives that’ll put you down about another 300 bucks.

Your boss mentioned Tempe is a pretty young city, and, upon searching the #Tempe on Instagram, you decide it’s a great idea. You reach out to a bunch of apartment complexes in that city for a tour as soon as you land. It (finally) occurs to you that the move will be expensive, so you invest in a credit card.

You’re young, so you’re going to want to experience a lot of new things as soon as you get there, and that takes some income to start up. And most importantly, if you plan on living for two weeks before you get your first, fat, glorious paycheck, you’re going to need a couple bucks.

The credit card is a great idea, and now all your purchases are made on that. There’s no way that will backfire on you later.

So you know what you’re taking with you and how you’re getting there. You know when your car is going to be picked up from your hometown and when it’s going to arrive in Phoenix and even where. Now that the logistics are out of the way, what else do you need?

You think about it, and you realize it’s all planned out.

It starts to sink in.

It’s not like before, where you earned a spot to travel across the map because of your job.

This time, you’re leaving your family, friends and any sense of familiarity behind for a wealth of new experiences in a new place with new people and a new job for much longer than a week. But let’s face it — you just graduated college.

This is the most calculated risk you’ll ever take. You got the job you know you’ll love, you got the car, you have a plan for finding a place to stay, and you’re ready to meet new people in a city you will probably like. Of course you’re ready.

It’s just that, now, the next time you’ll be back in Virginia, it’ll be for vacation.

And then it really hits you. You’re all set to move across the country postgrad. And you’re not scared. You’re stoked. And you’re not going to look at your credit card bill.

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