How to Stress Less About Your Move to a New State

Moving out-of-state can be an exciting adventure, but the idea of finding housing in a new area can feel daunting. Especially if you’re moving somewhere you haven’t visited much, or where you don’t know anybody.

It’s easy for a major move to turn into a nightmare. A mix of staying organized and getting the right help along the way simplifies and de-stresses this big transition.

Jen Davis, a buyer specialist with the Dan Holt Team, a Keller Williams Realty team in Springfield, Missouri, offered Rewire some helpful advice to smoothly navigate a move to a new area.

Ask for help

Whether you’re planning to rent or buy, have an expert help you find your next place of residence, Davis said.

Male movers carrying sofa outside truck on street Stress Less pbs rewire
That tiny white couch might not travel well. But you will!

Renting? Seek out a rental agent. These pros can guide your rental search in an unfamiliar city and even share information about listings that you might not find through your own internet searches.

Buying? Connect with a buyer’s agent. Unlike listing agents, who specialize in putting houses on the market, buyer’s agents specialize in working with prospective buyers, Davis said. A buyer’s agent will put your wants and needs first, and this arrangement avoids the potential conflicts of interest you might see with a dual agent, or transaction broker.

There are a few different steps to follow to find the right help in your target area, Davis said:

  • Consider your target area. If you’re moving to a small town, or know you want to live in a specific neighborhood of a big city, you may want to work with one agent. However, if you’re moving to a large city and are weighing your options in different neighborhoods, you may want to find a team of agents who each specialize in a different market sector within the city. Then you can set appointments with multiple agents who will all have access to the information you provide.
  • Use your network. Ask for recommendations from friends, or even friends of friends. If you’re moving for a new job and don’t know anyone in the area, ask folks from your new company for recommendations. If you’ve worked with a relator in the past, have them refer you to a colleague in your target area.
  • Read online reviews. Who’s the best person for you to work with, based on the opinions of locals?

The buyer’s consultation

So, you have a list of promising leads and have contacted their offices to ask any questions you might have. Now it’s time to set up a remote buyer’s consultation with an agent so they can find the best housing fits for you.

Davis lets prospective clients choose whether they complete this consultation over the phone or video chat. She uses questions to help them create a detailed list of their needs and wants. For example, you might be asked:

  • How familiar are you with the area?
  • How far are you willing to commute for work?
  • Do you have a certain location in mind?
  • How important is the school district?
  • What layout, square footage and price point are you looking for?

“We’re trying to get a really clear picture of what they want before they come into town,” she said. “Our goal with relocation is for that person to feel very, very confident before they get here.”

After that, even if your house-hunting trip is weeks away, you can expect to start receiving emails about properties the agent thinks might interest you. The listings you’re sent in the beginning might not be available when you actually visit, but seeing these examples helps you and your agent make sure there isn’t something you do–or don’t–want that wasn’t previously discussed, Davis explained. However, if you see something you really love, it might be possible to schedule a virtual walkthrough on video chat.

The house-hunting trip

If you’re traveling to your new city ahead of time to scope out housing, plan to schedule three to four days for the visit, Davis said.

Couple having fun while moving into new apartment Stress Less pbs rewire
“Wheeee! I hope we didn’t just make a terrible decision!”

You’ll see a few houses on the first day. Rather than overwhelming her clients with, say, 10 showings, Davis focuses on showing three to five options that seem most promising. This schedule also leaves time for regrouping. That way, “if something is missing in translation,” there will still be time for you to see houses that weren’t on the original list.

Use the second day to have a second viewing of the properties that seemed promising. If you decide to bid on a house, plan for the negotiation process to also take place on this day.

Don’t forget to leave one or two days for downtime and getting familiar with your new area, Davis said. Try new restaurants, explore local shops, go for a hike in a local natural area or enroll your kids at their new school.

Relocating is “a very stressful experience,” but the house hunting trip shouldn’t feel that way, she said. Working with an experienced agent can ensure they manage some of this stress, rather than all of it falling on you.

Planning to go it alone?

Even if you aren’t using an agent, don’t show up to an unfamiliar area for a housing search without doing your research beforehand. For instance, if you’re searching for an apartment, call the main desk in the complexes you are interested in to schedule showings in advance. Make appointments at several places. Also, make certain you allow plenty of time for a second look at promising rentals, signing your lease and exploring the area.

Rachel Crowell

Rachel Crowell is an Iowa-based writer exploring science and math. Rachel lives with Delilah, a golden retriever a stranger once called “the cutest thing in America.” Outside of STEM topics, Rachel also welcomes writing opportunities on everything from art to finance. Follow them on Twitter at @writesRCrowell.