How I Afforded to Move to the Big City

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For the first twenty-five years of my life, I lived in the same small town in south Florida. My hometown is nothing short of—well, boring.

While taking online classes at the University of Central Florida (UCF), I decided that in order to finally graduate, I needed to move straight into the heart of UCF. But the college campus is in Orlando and I had never moved more than thirty minutes away from my parent’s house, let alone a big city!

Moving from a small town to a big city can be intimidating. (At least, that’s how the movies make it seem.) However, what I learned from my own big move was that it shouldn’t be, and can actually be affordable – if you know what to do.

Step 1: Establishing a New Job

Step one when you are moving to a new city is to naturally find a job.

If you’re not moving for a career, establishing a new job in a big city was probably the most intimidating aspect of my move, especially since I was still in college.

In my small town, there were just a few chain restaurants here and there, only one hotel, and a handful of locally owned businesses. That’s it. Needless to say, jobs were scarce. (I worked at the same hotel for nearly four years because I heard horror stories about how hard it was to find work.)

Before I moved, I used the site Glassdoor because you can set up filters for the type of work I’m looking for. Every single day, I would submit resumes to jobs I considered accessible and efficient. My advice? Don’t be picky about the kind of job you start off with when you get to your new, big city home. You literally can’t afford to be.

Even if you aren’t a student like I was, one line of work I highly recommended is serving. Why? I needed to find something that would allow me to pay my budgeted rent and the ability to buy groceries without committing to forty hours a week. Serving not only teaches you humility, but it’s the easiest line of work to fall into; there are typically tons of opportunities, it’s an easily transferable trade, and the money isn’t bad, either.

Here are a few hacks to remember for getting a job in a big city:

  • Sign up for job search websites, such as Glassdoor
  • Schedule as many phone interviews as you can before you move
  • But don’t start taking interviews until you are 1-3 months away from your move date
  • For any in person interviews, let your potential employer know you are traveling for potential travel reimbursement
  • Calculate an exact starting so you can cite it for all your potential employers

Step 2: How to Budget for the Big City Prices

It can be hard to decipher what amount of rent you will be able to afford if you haven’t even started your new job. This was stressful for me at first, but I figured out a trick!

I saved up the equivalent of three months’ worth of rent so that I would have everything covered. I did this by saving 10% of my weekly earnings for my Big Move a year (yep, 12 months!) before I planned on moving.

An easy way to keep track of your money is to practice using a personal finance management app on a regular basis. There are plenty, but personally, I like to use Mint because it helps track what is going in and out of my bank account. (Which means I can see when I’ve been whipping out my debit card too much.) You can also set various different budgeting goals so you can start saving for your Big Move and traveling expenses.

I also set simple budgeting stipulations for myself that I implemented to last from the year before I moved, until the year after I moved.

During this time, my budget was strict, but worth it in the end. Here are the key components you need to keep track of:

  • Rent and Utilities: 35% of income
  • Life (food, gas, etc): 25% of income
  • Transportation: 15% of income
  • Debt Repayment (yes, get a credit card): 15% of income
  • Savings: 10% of income

Protip: Affording an Apartment

It was actually really easy to find a home within my budget. Unlike my hometown, Orlando has an insane amount of living options! Initially, I started by looking for studio apartments by UCF (there were a lot). But then I discovered Roomsurf, which lead me to find fellow students in need of roommates. It was a lot better (and safer) than using Craigslist.

I got to bunk with a fellow English major and met some of my best friends at my apartment complex. This was another great thing; I didn’t have to live in student housing, but I still lived around people my age.

Here are some things to keep in mind for you Big City home search:

  • Intricately figure out your rent budget before you start looking
  • Include three months’ worth of rent money in your savings (just in case)
  • Budget for traveling expenses and plan one full weekend to look at houses/apartments nonstop
  • Look for low-income housing, often near a city’s major college campuses
  • Find a roommate using Roomsurf, or another roommate app

Step 3: Getting Rid of Your Stuff

Next, start packing!

Rather than bring my baby photo albums and soccer trophies to my new, big city abode, I realized that there were some items that would be best left at my parent’s house. I also realized how much stuff I actually had! This meant either multiple trips or a pretty hefty moving truck rental.

Instead, I decided it was time to condense. Rather than dumping off a box of used clothes at Goodwill for them to make a profit, I found a way to use my old stuff to raise money for my Orlando move.

I hosted a garage sale. Then, I sold the remainder of my clothes to my local Plato’s Closet, a brick-and-mortar shop that will pay you for your slightly worn name brand clothes. What they didn’t want, I listed and sold on Poshmark. (Poshmark is a digital marketplace that allows to list and sell your subtly worn garments.)

Boom! Just like that, I was ready to start fresh, and I even had money in my pocket to fund my Big Move.

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Protip: Affording Movers

Let’s face it, if you’re trying to save money, you probably aren’t going to drop a few grand on professional movers.

But after I went through all the effort to sell a lot of my stuff, all I needed to do was haul a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen’s worth of essentials in a small rental truck. So instead of getting some big moving company quote, I just got my rental truck separately and hired a couple movers à la carte, to save a lot of money.

How did it work? After packing all my stuff, they got it all loaded into my truck for me (plus my annoyingly heavy couch). Then, I drove my truck to my new place in Orlando with the movers following behind me. After I got there, they just opened up my truck and got it all upstairs to my new place.

Since it only took a couple hours, the whole process only cost me a couple hundred bucks on HireAHelper, which honestly saved my moving day and was way, way worth it for the cost.

Now I’m a City Girl!

Moving to a city completely different from your own will take some getting used to. However, it is a far easier feat than most people realize. If you are looking to move to your nearby metropolis, I highly recommend it. Just like any move, it just takes some budgeting and ambition to get the wheels turning. And with these little tips and tricks up your sleeve, you will be fully equipped to make the Big Move all on your own.

Tiffani is a writer and a dreamer who moved to the big city to explore her opportunities. She has a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing from UCF and likes to travel. She also likes to watch Marvel films while researching social media marketing tips and cuddling with her pup, Lady Pug.

The Unexpected Perks of Local Moves

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Often when people move, it’s across the country or at least across the state. But for my recent move, it was just about seven blocks away! Yes, I just completed a local move. And I’m a little surprised about all the unexpected perks.

Here’s the story: My husband and I are expecting our first child and have had our eyes peeled in our “dream neighborhood” for over a year. This neighborhood came with a much better school district, a house big enough to accommodate our growing family, and a close-knit community that we were eager to join.

So although it seems silly to think we put in so much effort for a move just seven blocks away, we think it was well worth the investment and are so happy with the decision.

What We Learned

We didn’t have to be as organized.

A lot of my friends have moved across the country and in doing so, have had to really focus on their moving gameplan because it came with some serious logistics. How many days and miles do you need the moving truck for? Who will drive the moving truck and who will drive the family’s cars? What do you gotta bring on the moving truck to survive the few days en route?

Figuring out this information wasn’t exactly impossible for them, but I found out (the easy way) that common logistic problems definitely didn’t sneak up on me because our move was local.

Scheduling and driving a rental truck was easy-peasy.

To save money, I opted for a Hybrid Move. Translation: I hired Helpers for the heavy lifting, but rented and drove the moving truck myself. Because my move was local, when I was choosing the truck I needed, my priorities were strictly around the size. Nothing else.

Here’s another thing: Often times during long-distance moves, new homeowners need to research a truck that has extra seating, valuable leg room, USB or GPS capabilities, etc. Guess what? That extra information didn’t matter so much to me as I was zipping back and forth. Plus, the rental process was a breeze because there were so many trucks available in our area that fit our minimal requirements.

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Even details like where or when I needed to drop the truck off were far less complicated because I was going to pick-up and drop-off at the same location, which meant I was dealing with one salesperson the entire day. And yes, he quickly got to know me when I picked it up and was very flexible on when I brought it back. Repition is nice.

Plus, I’m not necessarily “used to” driving a 15-foot moving truck, but I can do anything for 7 blocks, right?! I would have been a bit more hesitant to drive a solo mission across the country, but zipping around a neighborhood I was already familiar with was definitely a perk that came along with this local move.

My neighbors were a huge resource.

When we moved into our new house, we needed an extension ladder to get up on the roof right away. The homeowner before us left several decorative ornamental pieces on the siding around our home and I couldn’t stand to look at these eyesores another day! You’re probably laughing at me, but seriously, a missing extension ladder was the only thing holding me back.

Google Map image of my new home.

 

Sure, we could have purchased one, but they’re expensive (like almost $200!) and it would’ve taken up quite a bit of non-existent room in our limited garage space.

But – yet again – because we still lived so close to our old house, we were able to borrow the ladder from our old neighbor! We drove it the seven blocks to our new house, used it, did a happy dance on our lawn once the job was done, then drove it right back to our old digs. I had no idea that the network we made in our old neighborhood would pay off so quickly, but staying local does have its perks … especially when you find yourself in a bind!

Potential financial overlaps pay off … big time!

Paying two mortgages at the same time is not fun, but ironically for the few days that we had possession of both our old house and the new house was pretty amazing in terms of moving perks. If you’re moving locally and have the chance to close on your new house just a few days before the old ones, do it! I can’t begin to tell you all of the hidden perks that came along with this situation.
For one, we were able to accomplish a lot of our DIY projects in the new house without having to live through the mess. We demoed the trim, added new trim, painted the walls, and had the floors re-finished all before we had to move into our new place. This was an epic success because we were not only able to dodge the mess and dust, but these jobs were so much easier (and quicker) to accomplish without the nuisance of all of our delicate, new furniture.

And speaking of all my “stuff”, after the DIY dust settled, we started bringing over the light-weight boxes to our new home. Anytime we would drive to the new house, we would fill up our cars with a few boxes and before we knew it, a lot of our stuff was already there and it wasn’t even moving day yet!

I can’t stress enough how much time, money and stress we were able to save thanks to this overlapping, local ownership.

We leisurely unpacked our wardrobes, bathroom essentials, and entire kitchen before moving day. When moving day finally arrived, we needed to hire the minimal amount of Helpers, then, the entire job was done in two hours! Plus, the unpacking process was a lot less stressful because nothing needed to be unpacked immediately since the closets, bathrooms and kitchens were already done.

With the help of the movers, moving day turned out to be relaxing (yes, that’s a thing!) … a welcome perk I definitely didn’t see coming.

The transition of utilities was seamless.

When we called about canceling some of our monthly utilities, some of the companies quoted us a cancellation fee because we would be ending our contract. But much to our surprise, a lot of these cancellation fees were waived if we had these services transferred over to our new house instead. We obviously opted for that option, which made the transition pretty seamless and much more affordable.

It also made paying our bills a whole heck of lot less time-consuming because we didn’t have to set up new automatic pay accounts through our bank for all of these new utility companies. So we could continue making payments and the utilities continued just like usual. It was definitely a win-win!

All our food stayed fresh.
How to Pack Up a Kitchen - Fridge, Pantry, and Freezer

Another unexpected perk was not as significant as the previous ones, but one I still appreciated!

In a long distance move, transferring your frozen or refrigerated food is another task that needs some pre-planning and an exact game plan. Groceries are far too expensive to let them go to waste because of poor planning. But in my local move, none of this pre-planning was necessary. No cooler (or planning) necessary! I don’t know about you guys, but I could get used to this trend of not having to pre-plan during a move!

Long story short, my seven block move came with some pretty unexpected perks that ending up saving me time, money and stress. Some of our family and friends rolled their eyes at us when we announced that we were hopping just one neighborhood over, but I’m happy to report it wasn’t that big of a deal to do, and the perks for us were huge; Even if it’s just seven blocks away from our old one!

The DIY Playbook are Bridget and Casey, two crafty bloggers writing out of Chicago about cool DIY projects, lifehacks and money saving techniques. After 15 years of blogging, they believe that if they can figure out how to DIY it, you can definitely do it too.

Where to Eat: A “Restaurants Near Me” Housewarming Gift Idea

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Housewarming Gift Idea: Where to Eat - Restaurants Near Me Photo 1

A Housewarming Gift from the Neighborhood FOODIE

Calling all foodies from the neighborhood… we need your help!

If you’re a food lover with the inside scoop about which restaurants in your area are amazing and have specific recommendations about what to order at these hot-spots, then today’s “Housewarming Gift” may be right up your alley. (more…)

Are You an Average American? $100 Giveaway

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Photo of the Statue of Liberty

In honor of the upcoming 4th of July celebration, we thought it was only fitting to do a post with a little dash of patriotism. Why not chat about the good ol’ US of A in order to celebrate America’s birthday? And the icing on the patriotic birthday cake? We’re giving away one $100 gift card to Manready Mercantile – menswear & gifts made right here in the USA. (giveaway details at the end) (more…)

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