Nowadays, there are plenty of opportunities for getting your master’s degree in your nearby city and even in the comfort of your own home through online degree programs. However, an opportunity might arise that means you’ll need to relocate to a new city or state to get your graduate degree. Perhaps you got accepted to your first choice law school across the country, or maybe you were offered a substantial scholarship to get your MFA 1,000 miles away. You won’t want to turn down these incredible opportunities.
No matter how excited you might be, it’s not easy to pack up and move across the country. Especially if you’ve lived in the same place for several years, the transition to a new place might be tricky. To help ease the burden, we’ve provided you with some tips to make your move as smooth as possible.
Figure out your school’s housing policy
Most universities offer housing to undergraduate students for at least the first year to get them acclimated to their new home. Graduate students may be offered the opportunity to live on-campus, but more often than not, graduate programs encourage their students to live off-campus. Even if you plan on living off-campus while getting your graduate degree, don’t hesitate to contact your school’s housing department.
If you’re looking to save some money on housing, consider getting in touch with your university’s residence staff to see if there are any openings for residence assistants or directors. Plenty of colleges hire their own graduate students to work in these part-time positions, which typically come with free housing and a small stipend. You may need to be on duty a few nights a week, so you may want to consider this only if you’re not going to be working full-time while enrolled in graduate school.
Have a travel companion for the trek out
Whether you’re road tripping across the country or getting there by plane, it can always give you a sense of security when you have a friend or family member there to keep you company during your move. Plus, it might give your loved ones some comfort knowing that you’re moving to a safe, homey city; this is especially the case when you have a parent come along for the voyage.
Give yourself some adjustment time
Let’s just say your grad school semester starts on Jan. 2. You might want to be home for the holidays, but arriving in a new city and moving in on Jan. 1 will be stressful. Try to give yourself ample time between your move-in date and the first day of classes to get acclimated to your new living situation. At the very least, we suggest moving in a week before classes start; that way, you can have a few days to explore your new surroundings and find the nearest grocery stores and shopping plazas.
This might be tricky if you’re planning on renting – most leases don’t start halfway through the month, after all – so in this instance, think about either starting your lease early (if your budget permits this) or spending a week or two at an AirBnB near your place.
Decide how you’ll handle extra movers
If you’re in a committed relationship or even a parent to young children, you probably won’t want to go a long distance away from your nuclear family. Depending on what your partner does for work, it might make sense for them to move with you to this new city or state. With kids, it might get a little trickier, especially if you’re going to have to move them into a new school district.
The best tip we can give you to navigate moving with other family members is to be organized and attentive to everyone’s needs. If your partner had to transfer his or her job to your new city, or if your children had to leave their friends behind to start at a new school, make sure you show them how much you appreciate their sacrifices.
Put yourself out there
If you’re moving to a new city all by yourself, you might be wondering how you’re going to meet people. Sure, you might become close with some of your classmates, but what about when you want to branch out? Your university might offer extracurricular options for grad students, but typically they will provide activities and clubs primarily for undergrads.
If you can’t join an on-campus club, look into some local activities in your city that can help you meet new people. Improv classes, adult soccer leagues and writing groups are just a handful of ways you can interact with your community, taking on one of your favorite hobbies all while meeting some cool people. With today’s technology, there are plenty of ways you can interact with your local community. There are Facebook groups for newcomers and natives of different cities, in which people can ask for tips on anything from the best restaurants to the most reliable electrician. Additionally, there are even apps that exist with the sole purpose of helping young adults meet friends – think of a dating app but without the romance. Living in the 21st century sure has its perks!
Finally, one last way you can put yourself out there is by connecting with current students and alumni in your program to ask them for tips and tricks to help you succeed in your specific program or get you comfortable in your new city. Plus, it’s always helpful to see a familiar face on your first day of class.