How to: Move Across the Country

I’ve had a few different people ask me in the past month or so about my decision to move to LA from Chicago, and how I made that happen in a span of just some months. So, I wanted to write a blog post detailing the literal steps I took to make an LA move possible for me, and also attempt to address the larger question: when is the right time to make a big move like this? How do you know when you’re ready?

Knowing that LA was the place I wanted to be, there were a few other key pieces that really had to come together in order to make it a reality. This is where I started:

The Job: At the time, I knew my company didn’t have an LA office and that I wouldn’t be interested in a remote work setup. Looking for jobs from another city is INCREDIBLY hard to do, but a couple of hacks can make it a little bit easier:

  1. I updated my LinkedIn location to LA - this made it easier to search jobs, and for recruiters to contact me about LA roles.

  2. I was clear and definitive about moving in any cover letters I submitted or conversations I had with companies. Being up front and honest gave me legitimacy as an LA candidate and made it clear I was serious.

  3. If you’re moving with a friend or significant other, or have family in the area, feel free to mention this as well. Knowing I was moving with my boyfriend I was able to seem, again, more legitimate and less likely to just change my mind about relocating.

The Apartment:

I HATE cold apartment searching - and by that I mean when you’re just looking at listings off of Zillow or apartments.com. I have had the best apartment search luck when I worked with an agent to show me a bunch of places at once, or went through my network of friends/family to connect with someone in need of a roommate. Craigslist is another good option!

For LA, I was lucky enough to get connected with a friend of a friend who already had a great apartment in a great neighborhood - all she needed was a roommate! All of the details of the place lined up for me, and made it so much easier to say yes to a place and lock in a date.

Timing:

This was by far the hardest piece to figure out. As much as I like to plan, I know that there’s never a true “right” time to do something. In fact, the best plans are made to be transformed or reworked or ignored when something even better comes along.

For LA, I knew I wanted to move within the year and not do another full 12 months in Chicago. I also knew that I wasn’t ready to move immediately - I wanted more time to save, and frankly, I didn’t want to spend my 25th birthday in a new city all by myself. So, moving at the end of the summer felt like the right timing for me - soon enough to feel real but far enough way that I didn’t feel stressed or rushed.

Once these large pieces came together, the next step is to just commit with your whole heart. There are obviously a million other smaller details that came together later, including but not limited to:

  • Using Uhaul to store my things for the summer and then transport them all to LA

  • Deciding whether to fly or drive - we ultimately decided to fly because it would take less time than driving

  • Figuring out the car situation - currently a work in progress

It’s important to remember that these things, will come together with time and you don’t need to have every tiny detail figured out right away. If you are on top of it enough to have everything nailed down before your move, more power to you! But it’s certainly not necessary (and not what I did by any means). The most important thing is to be intentional about your choices and to listen to your gut - it’ll often take you places you wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise, and you’ll be all the better for it!