The Wheaton Blog
From Small Town to Big City: A Guide for Moving to an Urban Area
If you’ve been living and loving the rural lifestyle in small-town America, moving to an urban area can seem daunting. You might not know where to start. Not only do you need to find a place to rent or buy in a good area, but you also need to adapt to higher living costs and know how your budget and lifestyle will adapt to new surroundings.
If you’re planning a country to city move, this guide can help you know what things to consider and prepare for when making this change.
Secure Employment Before the Move
Many people consider moving to an urban area first, and then start looking for work — especially in cities where the job market is growing. However, your small town probably didn’t have as many qualified physical therapists, teachers, tech analysts or engineers to fill positions, so getting a job might not have been too difficult.
In the city, the competition is greater, and many people are flocking to urban areas to find work. Before planning your relocation date, you might consider dedicating a week to living in a short-term rental as you make interviews and submit resumes in the city. This way, you get a feel for the competition and what a fair salary might be.
Adjust Your Budget
Some aspects of moving to an urban area can actually save you money. For example, you won’t spend as much money on gas to drive to a larger town for groceries, clothing or house supplies. Some increased expenses come from urban living, including:
- Parking. You might have to pay for parking, especially if you work downtown or live in an apartment complex that charges extra for dedicated parking spaces.
- Public transit. Getting around may be easier if you leave the car at home and simply use the tram, subway or bus to get to and from work. However, yearly passes are expensive up front, so you should make sure that you’re factoring the cost into your expenses.
- Groceries. Groceries can cost more in urban areas, especially in the city center where large box stores are uncommon.
- Utilities. Small towns have smaller infrastructures that don’t require a large workforce or many major repairs. Larger cities have massive frameworks for electricity, water and waste management and trash removal. You may end up paying more for these services as a result. Costs vary by city and by state.
It’s best to do as much research as possible before moving so you can anticipate these costs. However, you should still try and save a little extra money because there will be some expenses that you just can’t anticipate.
Prepare to Downsize
Generally, housing is more expensive in urban centers. Small towns have a low cost of living, so you might have enjoyed renting a large three-bedroom house with a garage and a fenced yard. However, for a similar price, you might only be able to afford a small two-bedroom condo in the city or a simple studio apartment.
Even if you have wiggle room in your budget to increase your housing costs, you will probably need to find a place with less space than you’ve been used to. This means downsizing. Downsizing before the move is the best way to go. To effectively downsize, consider:
- Keep the things you use. If you always choose one winter coat over the others in your closet, donate or sell the ones you don’t wear.
- Give away family heirlooms. Rather than waiting to leave them in your will, give heirlooms away now. Your family will appreciate the gifts, and you won’t have to store them anymore.
- Reduce collections of seasonal items. Rather than storing holiday items, like Christmas decorations and Halloween costumes, keep only the most beloved items.
- Sell large furniture. You can use the money to shop for smaller pieces that will fit better in an apartment or small house. A huge sectional just won’t work in a small studio apartment.
Downsizing will make it easier to find an affordable place to live, and your moving costs will go down because you won’t need as large of a moving van to haul your belongings.
How do you know where to rent or buy if you’ve never lived in the city you’re moving to? Take the time to travel to the city a few times. Stay at different vacation rentals or rooms for rent for a few days and take time to walk the neighborhoods. Are there more young families? Elderly retirees? Single young professionals?
The type of people you see and the businesses in the area can help you know if you’re looking in a good area. If you can’t afford some the nicer areas of town, look at listings to check for up-and-coming places that will be nice in a few years. Decreasing days on the market, renovations and small business growth are all signs of areas that are developing.
For more information on planning your relocation from rural to urban living, contact us at Wheaton World Wide Moving.