8 Things for a Student to Consider About Relocation

I graduate from college in…eight months. (Yes, I did just take time to count it out on my fingers.) Eight months. The next eight months will fly by, and come graduation day I’ll be crying, wondering where my college years disappeared to and mourning the end of an era. I’ve spent a long time saying that I’m ready to be done with school, and while I am, nostalgia and reality have given me a strong taste of “enjoy-it-while-it-lasts-itis.” I have to balance myself carefully between making the most of the here and now and preparing for the future.

It’s no secret that I hope to find work outside of Illinois. I feel like it’s time for the next big adventure in life. Because of that, I’ve been spending a lot of time researching locations that I’d like to live at or near. I’ll follow the job offers wherever they take me, but it’s also nice to stay educated on where you could end up. Because of that, I’m putting together a checklist of things a college student should consider when looking into new places to reside.

Where will I end up? Who knows!

  1. First and foremost, cost of living. What will you be getting paid to work in the region you’d be working in? Can you afford to survive in that area? Could you get the same pay in an area with a lower cost of living? Remember, any money you don’t spend on your necessities can be put toward paying off student loans and car loans. (That is, if you have student loans and car payments to worry about. I do, but I know not everyone else does.)
  2. Resources. For me, I need a good balance of rural and urban. I like knowing I have the resources of a large city (hospitals, nightlife, activities, travel accessibility) with ready access to a rural setting. Living in the Chicago suburbs and Sacramento has shown me that I can do well in a more urban setting, but I need dirt roads and open spaces to sooth the soul every now and then.
  3. Support base. If you pick up and move somewhere else, will you have the moral support to make that place home? Starting a new life in a new place can be difficult and emotional. This moral support can come from people in the physical area, friend and family back home, or even people who live elsewhere. I’m lucky enough to know that I can move just about anywhere in North America and have someone close enough to visit on a weekend trip or spend a holiday with. At the same time, I have a few close friends and a large family here in Illinois that will do whatever they can to help me, as well as friends all over the continent to offer support via long-distance communication.
  4. Climate. Chicago is known for some unpredictable weather, and Sacramento is known for its consistent and fairly mild weather (albeit dry and hot). You have to have a good understanding of what weather to expect, and how to prepare for it. Some people don’t do well in heat, so moving south would be less appealing, whereas some folks hate the winter, so vice versa. This may influence more than just your wardrobe, too. Home decor (blankets, rugs, mudrooms…) may vary, as well as your choice in automobile.
  5. How strong is the industry you’re going into in the area you’re moving to? I’m lucky; agriculture is virtually everywhere. Just about any major city in the U.S. has some sort of agricultural tie, whether it’s through a state or national organization, an agency, or a large company. Indirectly parallel to this point is also the question of the local economy. How strong are other industries in that area? A strong economy means that an area will be a more stable place to live.
  6. How long do you plan on living in this area? Is it a “just for now” situation or are you looking for a place to put down roots? While I plan on playing it by ear, I would be happy either way. I have a lot of energy left for adventures, but I also would not mind finding a place where I “belong.” While I have some locations in mind for my post-college plans, some of them would be short-term (a few years) and some hold potential to become a real, lasting home. (At least, I think so right now. Plans can always change!)
  7. How far from home are you planning on really going? Do you want to be able to come home for a weekend, or are you willing to take a flight to visit? Think about the occasions on which you’d choose to return home. If you plan on going home often, are you willing to pay for that much travel? This can change depending on how close you are with family and friends back home, whether or not you’re in a relationship, and your ability to adapt to new places.
  8. How similar or different from home is this new place? Do you want to completely change gears and kick up a new lifestyle? Or would you rather have touches of home here and there? Or maybe you want to move somewhere that is exactly like home, except a few hundred miles away. These are all factors that can influence the way you feel about your setting.

So, these obviously aren’t the only things to consider. The job itself that you would be relocating for is a big factor in your success in that area, obviously, and there are a million-and-one things to weigh about that decision. Pay, benefits, company culture, work environment, the work you’d be doing…but this list is just meant for considering cities. As I move forward considering where to send resumes and places to potentially visit over winter and spring breaks, I have considered location as a big factor of the decision-making process.

What are other things for blossoming professionals (or even seasoned pros) to consider before a relocation? Share some of your experiences with moving or drastically changing lifestyles. As someone who looks to be moving within the year, what advice or suggestions can you offer me, and other students who may be in similar situations? Your feedback in appreciated!

Also, if you have not checked it out, please read my giveaway post here. The idea is to open doors of dialogue surrounding World Food Day, which was yesterday. The day may be over but world hunger is never-ending, so let’s use whatever forums we can to share ideas!


18 thoughts on “8 Things for a Student to Consider About Relocation

  1. Man I remember those days – exciting, but scary.

    It appears that you have a strong background (that being an agricultural ethic (work, family, values, etc.) combined with a good education) that will take you far.

    Keep your head on straight and “break a leg:!!! 🙂

      • I have a few ideas. Not any specific places, but I do have “requirements.” It needs to have an urban or semi-urban center nearby, but also have ready and easy access to a rural setting. I obviously want to work somewhere with a strong agricultural presence, especially since I want to work in agriculture. I’m looking for lower cost of living, a strong economy, and seasons. I’ll follow the job offers wherever they lead, even if it means sacrificing a few of those desires. (Although, the biggest is one is the rural/urban cross-over. I will not sacrifice THAT.)

  2. I understand but have never had any use for ‘urban’. I live in North Western Pennsylvania (go Steelers), have a 70 acre farm, work in a town of 6,000 and haven’t been in a city bigger than that in years.

    Life is good. 🙂

    • “Urban” has different meanings for me. I grew up in a town of approximately 3,000 people, so “urban” to me is anywhere from 25,000 to over a million. I’ve lived in the Chicago suburbs, the Sacramento suburbs, and worked in downtown Sacramento. I’ve also worked in incredibly rural settings, as well. I want the amenities of a larger city (like, an airport, reliable retail, hospitals, etc.) with the opportunity to spend time in the country.

      • I’m glad that you know what you want. i have an 17 year old daughter that is searching right now. She has a lot of opportunities but I’m sure she’ll get things figured out by her senior year of college.

      • Her life will change drastically between now and senior year of college. She has plenty of time to figure out what she wants to do. She may point herself in the right direction now, but the big defining moments will probably come later. I’m glad she has a lot of doors open for her!

  3. Her life and mine will change. Right now everything I do is with and for her.

    Back to agriculture – the farm has been productive enough to enable us to save enough to pay for her college.

    Are you a sports fan?

  4. I expect the Cubs to be in the World Series in three years. Theo Epstein, if he has any support at all from the front office, will see to that!

    As for the Bears…..

  5. Being a transplanted Red Sox fan (too many bad years for the Pirates!!) I’m sorry to see both Epstein and Francona leave. I credit them both for ending Boston’s World Series drought.

    I expect Epstein will do the same for the Cubs. If he had to go anywhere, it could be worse than the Cubs!

    • He’s got a thing for very cultural and historic teams, doesn’t he? The Red Sox and the Cubs are about as classic and all-American as they come. He’s got good taste in traditional ball teams 😉

  6. Oddly enough, after my interview for my current job I felt I’d be ok living in the area when I realized that the drive back to Minnesota was pretty and not boring. Sometimes it’s little things.

    The size of the city was huge for me. I don’t think I could live in NYC or Chicago very long, but I was fine living in a suburb right next to Minneapolis and living in Kansas City. Though, I’m much more comfortable living in a city right now than I likely will be when I want to settle down and raise a family. I did look all over the U.S. when I was job searching, but ultimately I think I’m glad I ended up in the Midwest and just a day’s drive from home (7 hours).

    • I’m in a similar situation, Anna. I want to be close enough that I can make the trip home for special occasions, but I’m not tempted to go home at the drop of a hat. If I ever choose to have a family, I’d love to raise them in the country. However, buying a house in the country and commuting into the city would cost too much in my early years, unless I end up renting a house in the boonies with other people. Until I’m ready to settle down, a slightly more urban setting will be just fine with me.

      I’m excited for this new stage in my life, but it’s terrifying (and rightly so). At the same time, I have a gut feeling that leaving home is what I need to do to be fully happy and independent. And I’m fine with that.

  7. I moved halfway across the country after I got out of college to a place I’d never heard of or seen and where I didn’t know a single person. A terrible housing arrangement/crazy roommate/money-down-the-drain experience later, things settled into normalcy again.

    I really love where I live. This area is where I belong (though that could change in the future, who knows!), but I’ve promised to myself to not ever move sight unseen ever again. If you can, visit the place you will be moving to and make housing arrangements in person. That cost will be so minor compared to the peace of mind you’ll have and *hopefully* the avoidance of any train wrecks like I had.

    Best of luck!

    • Erica, I’m planning on spending my winter (or possibly spring) break visiting agencies in the cities where I may end up living. All of the cities on the list are also home to people I know and trust to help me get settled in. Moving to California over the summer proved that I can settle in somewhere new and make the most of an unfamiliar place, so I feel pretty confident that wherever I go and whatever happens, I’ll find a way to make it “home.” Thanks for the advice and insights…hopefully you experience means I will dodge that bullet when it’s my turn!

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