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What is the best way to find a job and apartment out of state?

Updated on October 27, 2008

Step by step, I'll run you through the factors involved in finding a new place to live and work that fits your needs--and your personality.  With links I've pulled together over a year-long search of my own, you'll be outfitted with all the resources you need to make the move the right way.   


Part I: Finding a Place to Live

Part II: Making Connections

Part III: Finding the Job

Part IV: Where DO You Want to Live?

(Part IV, "Where DO You Want to Live?" has been placed at the end simply because some people already know where they are going, but it is probably the most important consideration--start here first if you're only in the beginning stages of making a big change.)

Part 1: Finding a Place to Live

Whether you're looking to rent an apartment or buy a house, you might actually want to start with the next step I've listed--"Making Connections." Once you know people in an area, even as casual acquaintances, you can get advice on things like what areas of town are best to live in (for your situation), where the best grocery store is, how well the public transit system works, what public schools are like, and what the "flavor" of different neighborhoods seem to be.

However, your main concerns may be price, location, and timing. There are many websites to help you find apartments for rent, however, realize that the vast majority of these will only list large, commercial apartment and condominium complexes. You will probably want to look at Craigslist and the websites of the local newspapers, most of which post their classified ads online. Newspapers will have ads from individuals renting out smaller units. 

Another way to find apartments is to make contact with the local college or University--they will be able to make recommendations about who to speak with, or may even have their own listings available. 

Timing can be a major factor.  When I move next month, I plan to park on the couch of some friends in the short-term while I look for a good place to stay.  Fortunately, my needs are meager--I want a place where I can put my twin-sized mattress, some books, and a fish, as well as get Internet access.  If you have more complicated needs, you may want to go through a realtor.  (Where do you find that realtor?  That's right--through the connections you've made online.)   

What if you're moving to a job where you know you won't be able to afford to live nearby? I highly recommend Trulia's "Heat-map" website. This site allows you to get a general idea of the average housing prices for the State, County, and City you want to move to. When I was considering moving to Chicago, this heat-map system very quickly helped me to find out how far away from the heart of the city I'd need to move to be able to afford an apartment.  (Even though based on house sales, it does give a good general picture of the market.)  This one allows you to take into consideration an important factor:  Don't forget the cost of the commute!   

Part II: Making Connections

The obvious suggestion of looking on Craigslist, while useful, is not your only option. Look on YahooGroups to see if you can find a group that fits with your interests and is located in the area you're going to.

For instance, if you're an avid golfer, you might find a group like "Madison Golfers" and strike up a conversation with the members of the group. Even though unrelated to things you're interested in knowing, you'll meet people who know the area and who might be willing to refer you to further resources. Through two different groups I've hooked up with in the area I'm planning on moving to, I've found the names of doctors, real-estate agents, and prospective employers.

Join more than one group, and look at the links for each group you find to see if they can put you in touch with another group in the area which might also be a place to make friends. Ideally, you won't step off the plane / bus / out of your car without a few acquaintances, if not friends.

What if you can't find a group that fits your interests in the area you want to go to? Maybe you want to look for a group in a nearby city. (Or maybe this is a bad sign, which you might want to look into a little more.)

Finding a Job

Before I go into detail on the things I've found about searching for a job at a distance, let me blare out an enormous word of caution:

You are looking at them online. They are looking at you online, too. The further away you live, the more likely the company you have applied with will be trying to find out about you through Internet research. Do your MySpace pictures of a wild night at the bar need to come down? Does your Facebook account reflect the values you want an employer to see? If not, you might want to apologize to that buddy whose profile looks a little too scary to have linked to yours, and tell him "Sorry, let's get linked up again once I have the job in ___!" (If he's really a friend, he'll understand.)  

The main options for looking for a job at a distance tend to be through online websites such as Craigslist, Monster, and USAJobs, as well as many other smaller sites. Also, look for local job and newspaper websites. Another great place to look are through the State Government's Workforce Services department.

Also, if you have an affiliation with your university, community college, or technical training center, they should have job-placement assistance for you that extends outside the area you're currently in.

The biggest obstacle to find a job in another location is, obviously, distance. You don't live there--they know that, and they probably won't like it unless you're in very high demand or are fresh out of college. First, face-to-face contact is imperitive for interviews. Phone-interviews rarely cut it unless you're in high demand. Second, employers worry that they'll go to all the trouble of calling the job position filled and you won't show up from 1300 miles away. Relocating is a big deal--what assurance do they have that you'll follow through, and that once here, you won't collapse of culture shock, and go home again?  

If you're fresh out of college, you have an advantage when it comes to relocation--you're assumed to be more open to a move. Do your research! If you seem to know the area you're planning to move to very well, the miles may not matter.

If you are disabled, you can also count on the assistance of the State's Vocational Rehabilitation program--most States have no time-in-residence requirement, so if you need help getting established, they may be there for you from day one.  

Companies may be willing to fly you out for first and/or second interviews, but if you're not looking at careers that pay over $60,000, you probably shouldn't count on it. In these tight-budget times, employers want to hear from you or read in your cover-letter the words "I am relocating to your area at my own expense."

And lastly, you may not be able to land the job you want from a great distance. I gave up looking for a job from 1300 miles away and simply quit my old job to move there. (Of course, that was based on my being able to afford to work at a low-paying job for a while until I found "the real thing." Not that I minded the break!) You may eventually plan on just moving into the area and then seeing what comes up. You'll be there to do the leg-work, to see the building where you might work and notice if the employees look energized or near death when they leave at the end of the day. You'll hear rumors, make friends, and generally be in a better position to get interviews and land the job you want. 

I haven't listed any job-search links below because the big ones are all well-known and the smaller ones are all far too numerous.  However, most States will have their own information on Workforce, so a link to all 50 States' websites is included.   

Part IV: Where DO You Want to Live?

This can be one of the hardest places to start from--you know you want to move to, say, the Northeast, but where, exactly? Start narrowing it down by thinking about what matters most to you.

Pick your Criteria:  

When I decided to leave Utah, I sat down with a list of States and crossed off everything that was desert, everything that was "the South" or "Biblebelt," and every State that had voted Red in the last election. That left me with 16 States to choose from--still a huge chunk of the US to look at, but no longer was I looking at a giant map with a dart in my hand.

If you're a career-changer, you may look for places where the career you're looking for is in greatest demand. If you're looking to go to college, the criteria may be set for you already based on the program you want to get into. If you want a change of scenery, it's all about, well, scenery!

If you're moving to be with the one you love ... be careful! While having the one you love already there to help you make the transition can make it seem like a simple choice, the decision still needs to take into account how well you will match with your new location. Make sure it's a place you can find work and play happily in. Moving to a place that doesn't suit you may put a strain on the relationship. (Also ... when you plan this sort of move, make sure you have the funds to return to your previous status--nothing's worse than being stranded in an unwanted, unfamiliar place with a negative relationship experience as your only tie!)  

Do the Research: 

One site I found interesting was InfoPlease's page on "Most Livable States." Once I had my 16 States, I was able to see where they ranked compared to others--and that gave me a start on looking into why.  

Try looking on a website such as "" This website does have some sponsorship by the cities it directs you to, but that doesn't keep it from being a good general tool to help you figure out what types of cities will appeal to you. If you're looking for a "change of scenery," this is the place to go to think about what environment you'd like to enter. (Or, by contrast, it may help you to think about what you don't like about the place you're living now.)

The US Census Bureau is another helpful site for your search, and to research general information about your destination once you've decided where you're going. The Census Bureau's "American Fact Finder" is a way to get more specific information, quickly.  

Simply by finding out things like how many people in a State or City own their own homes, you can determine what sort of stability and safety you might expect, as these things are closely related. You can also search the Internet to find out what the average weather is like, or how many golfcourses are in a specific city, etc. 

When you're looking at the State level, get on the State's website, where you will find information for people who plan on moving there.  You can also often get them to send you publications for free--I ordered several sets of magazines from one State in the Midwest and was amazed at the amount of information I found there.  If you narrow it down to a City, do the same thing with their Chamber of Commerce.   

Going There:

Nothing can match the value of visiting a place for yourself.  While you're there, go to the gas station and pick up a major newspaper.  Go to the Chamber of Commerce and see how they treat you, and get everything they're willing to give you about living and working in the town.  (I've been amazed at the things that I've found through the Chamber of Commerce!)  Go to a Visitor's Center and see what they can tell you about the recreational opportunities and clubs that might interest you. 

Drive around town--all around town.  Is there a rust-belt?  Trailer-courts?  Are there many parks?  How clean are the streets?  How old are the buildings--and do you like that?  How much construction do you run into, and how difficult is it to navigate? 

If you can't find a map of the town at the Visitor's Center or the Chamber of Commerce, by the way, look at the phone book in your hotel room.  Or, go to a major hotel and ask them if they have a map you can look at--most will have something for their guests to help them see the local attractions.   


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    • profile image

      Alan Smith 

      3 years ago

      I use postlets as broker because it adds apartments to all websites. For apartments in Boston MA you can use also it has lots of listings all over Boston and you can add your listing too.


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