The ink is dry on your diploma and you're officially a college grad. Now what do you do? For some grads, moving after college is the next logical step.
Relocating after graduation may open the door to better-paying jobs or the opportunity to work in an up-and-coming industry. In fact, in a 2018 recruiting study from Yello, 94 percent of grads included said they'd move for the right job.
If you're looking to relocate, here are some factors to consider when figuring out whether moving after college makes sense for you.
Assess Whether You're Ready for a Change
Moving after college can mean leaving friends and family, and your regular hangouts behind for unfamiliar surroundings and a new daily routine.
Keina Bowling, a marketing manager, moved from her hometown of Lynchburg to McLean (both in Virginia) shortly after she graduated college. She wanted to challenge herself professionally but says that initially, there were some emotional hurdles to overcome. "There were many days I wanted to call it quits and come home," Bowling says. "It's lonely at times and you can feel like you're missing out on things—like birthdays and other milestones—back at home."
She found a way to work through that by staying focused on the bigger picture, which was pursuing a career in a field that she loved. And, she says, it eventually gets easier. "You make new friends, you make different memories," Bowling says, "and it's always okay to go back home for a visit."
As you weigh factors in deciding where to live, ask yourself whether you're ready for the kinds of changes it involves and why you want to move. For example:
- Would moving open up more job opportunities?
- Do your professional goals require you to be in a different area?
- Are there any other reasons, besides career advancement, that might be pushing you to move?
- How easy might it be to make friends in your new location?
- Would you be able to stay in touch and visit friends and family back home as often as you'd like?
It's important to be fully confident in your decision before packing up and heading out.
Consider the Financial Aspects of Relocating
Another important question to consider in deciding where to move is whether it's affordable.
Rachel Dix-Kessler, a digital public relations and content coordinator, made a huge leap after college. After graduating, she left her hometown which has a population of less than 500 people, for New York City.
Dix-Kessler says that facing a potentially much higher cost of living was a major factor in her decision to move. While she had a full-time job lined up, she had a backup plan that included getting a part-time job and looking for freelance opportunities to supplement her paychecks if necessary.
"I budgeted for the costs that I was aware of before moving, such as housing and utilities, with the assumption that it would probably end up being more than I expected," Dix-Kessler says. "I felt it would be best to anticipate needing a second job rather than getting to the city and stressing about making ends meet," she says.
In terms of the financial aspect of relocating, think about the before and after costs. You'll need to cover moving costs just to get to your new location. Once you're settled in, you'll need to budget for rent, utilities, food, transportation, insurance and entertainment in your new city, not to mention repaying your loans, if you have them.
A cost of living calculator can give you an idea of what you can expect to spend as you build your monthly budget. And, a moving calculator can help you come up with a budget for actually making the move.
Ask Your Employer About Relocation Assistance
One thing that may influence your decision is whether your new employer offers anything in the way of reimbursement for relocation expenses.
Neither Bowling nor Dix-Kessler negotiated any moving expense reimbursement as part of their benefits package. But, that's something you might consider if you need to make relocating more affordable.
Get in touch with an HR representative to ask if relocation reimbursement is included in your benefits and the amount. If relocation assistance if available, remember to keep accurate records of what you spend, including receipts. You'll need those to get properly reimbursed. And if your employer doesn't offer reimbursement, go back to your moving budget to make sure you can afford the costs out-of-pocket.
Do Your Homework
Moving after college isn't right for everyone and the more research and thought you put into it the better.
Do an emotional gut check to make sure you're ready to move and make sure you've covered all the bases of budgeting for a move and your new lifestyle.
"New grads should get to really know a city before making a decision," Dix-Kessler says, "including the average salary for jobs in your field and the cost of living." She also adds, "Having a financial and personal plan all mapped out will be extremely helpful when you get to your new city."