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The best way to find a job and apartment out of state

Updated on October 25, 2008

The BEST way to find a job and apartment out of state is to talk to someone you know who already lives there and get the lay of the land first. You can save yourself a lot of time, grief and money by doing some homework on the phone and online first!

A friend, relative or any contact who lives there can tell you more in a twenty minute phone call than twenty hours of online searching! He or she will be able to fill you in about:

  • Climate - from hot and sunny to baking, cold, windy, foggy, wet, overcast or snowy, what's the weather like? And the altitude? What clothes and gear will you need to bring or acquire and how you might like it?

  • Traffic and commutes - should you plan to sit in your car a lot or can you bike or walk places?

  • Public transportation -what is it available, accessible, affordable and safe?

  • Jobs and economic outlook - are businesses hiring, holding steady or closing their doors? Are there tech jobs, service jobs, no jobs? Is pay high, low, or just right? Is it a right-to-work state? Do you compete against low-wage illegals or retirees?

  • Cost of living - how do housing, transportation, medical and grocery costs mix with local taxes and wages to make it an economically viable place to move to?

  • Neighborhoods - those that might suit you with liveliness or quiet, spaciousness, trees, convenience, affordability. Which should you avoid?

  • Local entertainment and restaurants - family activities, singles scene, touristy, lots of nightlife or none. What's popular there?

  • Educational venues - schools, colleges and their reputations. If you care, is there a place for you to further your education? A party school? A high tech one? Community colleges or beauty schools?

  • Sports and recreation facilities - sports teams, sports fields, open space, boating, golfing, parks, tennis, hiking trails, and more. What do people do there? Do you share those interests or want to take them up?

  • Culture or feel of a place - political, liberal, conservative, casual, formal, ethnic, tolerant, sporty, religious, fast-paced, easy-going, welcoming to newcomers? Do people dress up for work and restaurants or show up in fleeces and hiking boots or shorts and flip flops?

  • Personal and property safety - do people not lock their doors or triple bolt them and stay inside at night? Are there gang problems, gambling, prostitution, prisons, meth labs and so on?

  • Bugs, snakes and local wildlife surprises - not everyone is used to cockroaches scittering across the kitchen, snakes curled around the toilet, mosquito clouds in the yard, bear encounters at the post office, or scorpions in shoes! A spider phobia could scare someone off a place, for instance!

If you can't find a contact at all, look for local newspapers (all big cities and many small towns have their papers online or you can subscribe my snail mail), check online forums, look for online and magazine articles about the place. Sperling's Best Places or City-Data will provide a lot an avalanche of info, although you will get depressed if you read too many opinions on City-Data. Be aware that more people with negative feelings post!

So, once you're sure you want to move there, start checking the local papers for information on which local businesses are doing what and look at their websites for job postings, check Craigslist for jobs, network with people you know, and do all the standard job hunting tasks. Be prepared for questions about your forthcoming move and how you will handle it. There are companies that will hire via phone interviews but it's best if you can go there first, whether they will pay for a plane ticket or you pay your own way. There really is no substitute for being there in person!

Once you have an offer letter in hand, apartment searching will be much easier because you will be able to choose by proximity to the job as well as your other criteria from above. And the apartment manager will be happier to rent to someone with a job!

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