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Relocating for a Job? Here’s Your Moving Timeline

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moving for a job

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It’s not easy to find a job in this crummy economy. So when the olive branch is extended and that perfect (or not so perfect) job is offered, we launch from our lilypad and bite – even if it means moving across the country, out of the country, or (gulp) back to your hometown in the next month or two.

Here is a tried-and-true plan to help you pack up your worldly possessions and embark on your new adventure:

First 24 hours after the getting job offer

Relax and enjoy your home. Your finger may start twitching to research your new city or start a planning Excel spreadsheet, but there will be time for packing, taping, and stressing later. Spend your first blissful 24 hours calling and seeing your friends and family and preparing for your new job.

The day after you accept the offer

Decide your moving style. If you stayed on a friend’s couch during your last vacation, chances are you’re planning on moving yourself, offering pizza and beer to all who help. If you’re not that type of person, can you afford to hire movers? Look for online price quotes from local movers and check on U-Haul and Budget Truck rentals to make a spending plan.

And if you can afford it, hire a mover over asking a friend. The process goes a lot smoother when you aren’t waiting around for your friend to finish his lunch before helping with the couch.

Take pictures of your current house as-is. Maybe you want a reminder of the fun times of the past… or maybe you want a reminder of why the heck you’re leaving. Either way, now is a great time to snap some photos of “how things were.”

Hit up the liquor store. You’ll need a new bottle of rum for all the stress that – no, no! Just kidding! Liquor stores (in my case, ABC) have been the No. 1 source for free, sturdy and perfectly-sized moving boxes for the last 10 years of my moving life. Depending on the state you’re in, call around to a few stores and find out when they get their deliveries. Then show up and fill your car (or a few cars) with free (empty) boxes.

One month out

Make a “Vital Papers” Box. Dream job or not, chances are when you show up you’ll want to be paid, and it’s a pain in the butt to go hunting through a moving truck for identification or blank checks for your direct deposit paycheck. Solve that headache now by assigning a bright-colored box to hold your vital documents and then keeping a close eye on it through the move.

Here are a few big-ticket items to get you started:

  • 3-5 years of filed taxes
  • Checks and banking records
  • Passport
  • Voter Registration card
  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Old lease
  • New lease
  • List of cell phone numbers
  • Extra phone charger

Pack a cleaning and painting box. If, like most sane people, you want your security deposit back, plan to clean and paint before you leave your place for good. Set aside a box of paper towels, towels, cleaning supplies, brooms and painting gear in a useful place (kitchen or laundry room) so you can be sure you won’t have a Now where did I put that… moment 24 hours before your lease ends and all your belongings are at the new house.

Clear away a staging area. Set up a special place reserved for boxes that are completely packed and labeled. This will allow you to quickly assess how far along you are in your move as you pack and then again as you carry boxes out.

Sell, sell, sell! On Craigslist, that is! Or Freecycle. Or in the paper. Or at a yardsale. Or to friends…. you get the idea. You never know what your “crap” is worth to someone else until you post it. Just be sure to follow basic safety rules when dealing with online folks and do your best not to spend that cash on video games.

Donate your crap. Even if you have to talk your boyfriend through giving up his two sets of Beavis & Butthead playing cards that have been under the bed for eight months, this is a move you’ll be happy you made. Be gentle. Refer to awesome blogs about minimalism and living simply, including the financial benefits of decluttering. Collect moments, not things.

Two weeks out

Set up some ground rules. If you’re fortunate enough to have a partner in crime who’s up for the divvying of chores, be sure to communicate who will be doing what around the house. Perhaps you like an even 50-50 split of cleaning and lifting boxes. Perhaps one person does the manual labor of lifting, moving and unloading boxes while the other plans logistics, packs boxes, and cleans. Doesn’t matter what you choose, so as long as it works for both of you.

Plan for your pet. Read up on how to move your pet. If you have a chill dog or cat, you might not need to worry as much. But some animals can be very needy, especially if they have never moved before. Most moving websites agree you should sequester your pet with all their favorite toys during the move, and then relocate the pet to the new home and keep them sequestered until they calm down. All pets will experience some kind of stress, but lots of hugs and play time will reassure your animal you won’t be donating her anytime soon.

One week out

Get it on paper. One week out, confirm everything about your move: the new apartment, the old house, the movers, the packers, the whatevers. Write down what each of you will be doing at one-hour increments the whole day, and what you expect to have done by the end of the day. Nothing beats setting an early alarm and finding out (two or three hours later) that the agreed-upon moving time is in the afternoon (and best of luck if it’s a weekend and your moving company doesn’t have normal office hours!).

Plan your meals. Unless you want the “surprise” budget bumps of no breakfast ($0 but OW!), Snacks ($12), BBQ for lunch ($25) and Kabobs for dinner ($20), plan your meals on moving day! Nothing is worse than not having access to your food supplies and over-spending at restaurants in town. Not to mention how tired and needy some people can get when hungry after a move (ahem).

Moving day

Eat. Moving day is one of the worst days to be on a diet or skip a meal. All your stuff is leaving your house, including you, and you’re grumpy and hungry. Check your meal plan and fill your belly so you won’t be tempted to speak unkindly.

Relax. Everything will work out, or it won’t. That doesn’t have to change how you act, what you say or who you are – or the fact that you are now employed!

Take a few breaths and hope for the best worst-case scenario, and you’ll have a great story for your first day on the job.

Sarah Greesonbach is a Content Management Specialist with a lot on the backburner (if you count lolcats and Words with Friends). She manages and writes for the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc and is studying to be an Accredited Personal Financial Counselor.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • Rene Karsholt

    Funny I came a cross this article, My wife, 2 1/2 year old son, two dogs and I are making a cross country move next week after we both accepted two new jobs this week. Though my wife, the dogs and I have made two cross country and two international move, it is always good to refresh. I had forgot about keeping the check book out for direct deposit, thanks for the help. I think the worst part of this move is that this is the first time we have to sell our house, which really makes things much more complicated. Do you have any advise on how to handle this, we are set with living arrangements for the time being at our new location.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7807970 Sarah Greesonbach

      We do aim to be timely with our postings!

      As for putting a house on the market, I do not have direct professional experience, but I think the basics of selling anything valuable are the same, so…

      Prepare for the sale by making sure the house is in the best condition possible and that you’ve put it at the right renting and/or selling price.

      Set reminders for maintenance, since you’re now living in a new world and it is easier to forget to arrange a mowing, a showing, or a replaced air filter (all those little pesky home-ownership things).

      Delegate, as it will be hard to monitor the condition and safety of hte home from far away. Find a talented (and willing) friend or hire out to a property management service you trust. Some of them will even take care of the renting process for you. There are service charges, but this might be a good way to go if you want to “set it and forget it”.

      Best of luck with the new jobs!!

  • http://www.arongadd.co.uk/ Pet Portraits

    Not seen a list mention eating before but it makes complete sense. Great tip and good advice.

    Now, where are those Beavis & Butthead playing cards…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7807970 Sarah Greesonbach

      Haha, now even more of a reason to visit the local thrift shop – you just might find them!

      And the eating tip was hard-won… there were many a cranky moments before my husband and I realized what was wrong!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7807970 Sarah Greesonbach

    And even more importantly, forgive my typo :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000236165737 Ed Petersen

    Right on point. The more stuff you get rid of by selling, donating or simply pitching away, the less you have to pack.

  • Quincy

    I was hoping for information about selling your house. Expenses for move. Finding a new place. I have a family and want to know how to do this right.