Is moving without a job lined up a terrible idea? Most people say yes, but maybe you’re not most people. Maybe you’re the kind of free-wheeling person who takes chances. Maybe you’d like to choose where you work based on where you live and not the other way around.
Despite what the naysayers tell you, moving without a job can be a really, really good thing. After all, you have the freedom to move to a place you’ve always wanted to live, you’re able to get a feel for the various local employment opportunities that excite you and you get the satisfaction that comes from being one of those scrappy, pull-yourself-up-from-your-bootstraps types.
Don’t get us wrong; moving without a job is a challenge. But if you do these five things, you can make it work—and more importantly, get to work.
You probably have some idea of which industries and companies dominate your new city’s economy. If you’re moving to the Silicon Valley, you’re probably aware of all those tech companies and startups. If you’re moving to Seattle, you’ve probably heard of Amazon.
Take the time to identify not only the major companies but the industries where the job market is strong. Maybe your new city has a school district that is actively recruiting. Maybe you’re in a tourist economy with a plethora of hospitality jobs. Identify who the major players are, what fields are showing up the most on hiring websites like Indeed and see where your skills line up. Don’t rule any company or industry out. You may be a graphic designer who might not think to look at the positions a hospital or bank is recruiting for, but there may be an open job that fits your skills.
You don’t want to hear this one (probably because your most pessimistic friend has already repeated it to you a thousand times) but you need to have money saved if you’re moving without a job. You should have enough to go three months without income, and by all means, file for unemployment if that’s an option.
Despite all of those extra funds in your bank account, remember to live beneath your means. It’s tempting to go out to eat, check out new bars and do a little shopping and museum hopping in a new city, but those things cost money. Tour your new city on foot and focus on free activities like checking out parks and street art. You can splurge on a big fancy dinner when you land that job.
Approach your job search with the same mindset that you’d approach an actual job. Set a schedule and work eight hours a day. If you’re used to working 40 hours a week Monday through Friday, fill those same hours with resume perfecting, application filing, and interview landing. Pound the pavement and hand out your resume in person. Update your LinkedIn profile. Being in the hustling mindset will translate well when your career takes off.
Start with the people you already know in your new city (if you’re lucky enough to already have those connections, of course), including not just close friends and family but acquaintances or former coworkers. Buy them coffee and see if they have anyone in their professional network who they can connect you with.
Next, contact recruiters, join a young professionals group and get to know your local co-working spaces. You can also network by getting involved with volunteer organizations and by meeting people at your neighborhood dog park (Assuming you have a dog, of course. Don’t be the weird person at the dog park without a dog.) or by scanning Facebook events in your area for anything networking related.
In a competitive housing market, landlords aren’t exactly dying to rent to people without jobs. You might need to have someone co-sign your lease. You should also be prepared to provide potential landlords with bank statements dating back several months, as well as your credit score and references from past landlords. Many landlords will ask you to pay several months of rent in advance. If you don’t want your savings to take this hit, consider renting a room from someone on Craigslist or getting an Airbnb for a month while you search for a job.
Shoot for the stars! Chase your dream job! But...be realistic. If your industry isn’t hiring and your savings are shrinking, there’s nothing wrong with taking a temporary job to ease the financial burden. Put in an application at the department store/coffee shop/call center that’s hiring and earn income while you pursue a career in your field.
And if you need a storage unit to help with your move, book online and make clutter one less thing you have to deal with while getting settled in your new hometown.