How DO you move out of state?

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California in my rear view © by jjandames, used under Creative Commons license.
People pack up and move out of state all the time, right? It’s obviously a thing — a thing that my boyfriend and I can’t figure out how to do! In order to get an apartment, you have to have a job to prove your income; in order to get a job you have to live within a reasonable distance of the workplace. It would help to have family or friends up there, but none of our people have chosen to homestead there.

We want to ditch the overpriced California lifestyle and go to beautiful Offbeat Oregon! That romantic story of tossing all your stuff into a moving van and setting off on an adventure somewhere wonderful is exactly what we’re after. I’ve been applying to jobs in Oregon for months now and I’ve got zip to show for it. Not even a returned email. Sucky economy is not kind to out-of-state job search!

If it’s such a chicken and egg problem, how the heck do people do move out of state? Did everyone have a job offer before they left town? We’re at a loss.

Help us Offbeat Homies, you’re our only hope! -Dana B.

UPDATE: We moved out of state thanks to Offbeat Home & Life!

Comments on How DO you move out of state?

  1. I moved from Vegas to PDX about 11 years ago, with only having visited Portland for about 48 hours on a summer road trip, and looked at a handful of apartments. How we did it:

    1)My then-partner got a job at a store that was part of a national chain. So did I. It helped that we were in our very early 20’s, so our standard of living was at ramen level, and anything above min. wage was a big win.
    2) We moved back in with my mom for 3 months and saved our money, sold a ton of stuff, and basically horded cash.
    3) We got transfers to Portland from our national chain retailers, and thus had proof of income for the apartment people.
    4) packed up a truck, waved goodbye, and got the hell out of dodge.
    5) Drove up to PDX in about 2 days. We had the truck for an extra day, and used our extra time to buy furniture to replace everything we sold.
    6) I got a new job soon after, and the guy didn’t make it a year up here, but I stayed, and was so glad I did!

  2. My wife and I did this a few months back. She got a job transfer from Atlanta, GA to Massachusetts. We found a fully furnished sublet on Craigslist for 2 months with all utilities included. That helped us to scout out areas we liked and to find a real place. Good luck!

  3. Guess I’ll add my two cents worth–did this 13 years ago, from Oklahoma to Washington state. My husband and youngest son came up first, he had a job offer we had tracked down through his industry. They lived in a tent for awhile until he could find a place to rent, and changed jobs while he was doing it. Fortunately he had the money from his previous job’s bonus to tide him over. We also did this about 25 years ago, Oklahoma to California, with two young kids, and we lived in a tent a lot until things got settled. We moved across the state two years ago, and thank goodness for the internet!! We found our house on Craigslist with a wonderful landlord. We live in a small town and I think that made a big difference in the ease of moving and renting a place. Next year will be a big move back to Oklahoma, but we have four kids and family there to make it easier. The main thing is to keep your expectations low, try to find a job before you go if at all possible, and really be flexible about living options!

  4. Tips on finding that job from a different state.

    Lots of people are saying it’s best to find a job first, then move. Though that may not be a requirement, depending on your situation, but it definitely makes moving easier. I’ve done it twice now (Ohio to Texas 3 years ago, and Texas to Louisiana last month), so here’s what I learned.

    Both moves, we were moving for my husband’s job, so we had that going for us. But I still needed to find work. It took me over a year in Texas, but I got a job offer in Louisiana a month before we planned on moving.

    The biggest thing I learned was that, in this crappy economy, there are lots of people sending out resumes to everything they can find no matter where it is. Because of this, out of state job applicants often aren’t taken seriously, and can be easily tossed aside. It’s more important than ever to make sure yours stands out, and make it very clear that you are planning to move to that area (not just looking for anything, anywhere).

    For example, when we moved here, I didn’t mention specifically that my husband already had a job offer. But I wrote in my cover letter something like “As I prepare to move to blah blah, I hope that you will find my experience….blah blah blah”.

  5. My husband and I have moved across the country and back. Each time, we had difficulty securing jobs ahead of time. The first time (moving to CA from MA), we only had my retail job that I was able to transfer from Boston! On the way back, and after being on the hiring side of things in the jobs we finally did acquire, we realized that it really helps to have a local address on your resume.

    I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you have a friend in the town you’re moving to, or even a friend of a friend, ask if you can use their address so it at least appears that you’re local! I’ve watched hiring managers toss aside perfectly qualified resumes because they’re out-of-state.

  6. I decided on December 23 that I was moving and left my house with a packed car on January 18, with no job prospects (though three weeks of job applications in already). In MY CASE! I had everything at mom & grandma’s and could focus on packing what I wanted without having to get rid of the rest. I had a place to stay rent-free once I got to Seattle, but only for a few weeks, and way too far away that I didn’t end up staying there much at all really. I had most of my stuff there and would go back every few days if I didn’t have another couch to crash on or needed to wash clothes, but within 2 weeks I had a few couches (and, ahem, beds) to sleep in and three different places in Seattle to do laundry for free. I tried sleeping in my car once because I was afraid I was wearing out my welcome despite rotating houses, but a new friend got wind of it and called me up to tell me to come over. I ended up getting a storage unit to get my stuff out of the original-homestead, couch-surfed for a little while longer and then ended up in a relationship with the guy who was mad at me for trying to sleep in my car.

    So, uh, my version was totally the pack-up-the-car adventure type. I can’t say it’s the BEST option, but it was kinda fun!

    I CAN say that you don’t need to put your address on your resume if you don’t want to or don’t have one to put (or, you can do what some friends did and put the address of the hotel where they were staying–no one really knows addresses well enough for it to be a problem, I’ve found). You can get a mailbox somewhere and put that as your address, there are private mailbox companies that you can do that.

    BEST ADVICE I have for you: Sign up for Google Voice with a phone number in the area you’re wanting to move, so that you have a number with a familiar area code for the people who are looking at applications. It will forward to your phone and they will have no idea that isn’t your “real” number. I list it as my “home” phone, so that if I call back from my “cell” phone number I have an explanation.

  7. Could you guys look for someone wanting a roommate as a temporary fix until you’ve found jobs?

    Also, you could start applying to jobs. Also, large chain companies you can often transfer to another store.

  8. I’ve done it twice. First, from new England to California- drove a car with belongings straight across. Minimal savings. Slept on friends floor for a week while job and house hunting. Found apartment with friendsoffriends, found job, it was fine! In less than a month!
    Next, from a city to a small town 2 hours away in another state. Bought a house! Found that one of us could work from home. Had a month overlap between closing and end of rental lease. I have been couch-hopping during the week, working in the city, not ready to job hunt yet. Just started on that. I am finding things, it’ll work out. This is just a rough patch logistically. And we could never have bought in the city. On the balance, both times; having friends! And letting them help you! Is what makes everything possible. Buying the house seemed crazy at the time but really it was fine in retrospect. The bank thought we were crazy too but we just soldiered on.

  9. My two out of state moves have been very similar as they were both for my husband’s schooling. As he is a student it didn’t matter if I had a full time job, we’ve still had to have a cosigner for all of the apartments we have ever rented. When we first moved to Chicago and Indianapolis neither of us had jobs, but with a cosigner no one batted an eye.
    A bunch of my friends have had moved out of state too. Many were able to sign leases without ever seeing the apartments or having a face to face with the landlords. My best friend moved to Portland by using craigslist. On there she found a couple who needed a house sitter for a couple months. That allowed her to job hunt AND apartment search all while getting paid!
    So yeah, having a cosigner is how we’ve always done it.

  10. I’m just a month into my new job and new state, waiting for my husband to join us with the moving truck. Why? Because I had to be bend-over-backwards flexible in my job search. When they wanted met to start a month before our planned move date, I was on the plane the next week. I think you have to be ready that when things line up, they often line up quickly.

    As some have mentioned, it helps to have an anchor in the state. I was lucky that my husband had been accepted into the school here so that was my guarantee we were moving. Employers didn’t have to doubt whether I would actually show up. Get a root planted, in any way possible!

    Also on the job end my beloved secret site was I read this site OBSESSIVELY especially any info about job hunting and I swear her tips on cover letters got me that foot in the door. (I promise I’m not affiliated with the site at all but it’s my favorite job weapon.)

  11. I’ve done it twice.

    In March of 2003, six months after I’d graduated college, I’d saved up $1500 to move cross-country with friends. It was originally to be a move to Portland, but ended up being to Denver. So there’s that. My friend I moved with had a family friend line up an apartment for us and we both got jobs within a couple or three weeks. My mom also drove me the 900 miles from St. Louis with all my worldly possessions, and several months later returned with some furniture for me.

    Nearly eight years later, my now-husband and I were sick to death of Denver and decided on Seattle. In two months we’d saved up/sold things to make up a nest-egg of $1500 again. We each took a couple bags of clothing, a guitar and a couple bikes onto the plane with a one-way ticket. We spent a few nights with family, then took a room in a shitty weekly-rent motel for a couple weeks. My husband had a cooking job within a week! Right away we found a room in a house share, and after a month or so I had a job too. The house share ended up sucking, but six months in, we had enough saved for our own place. We couldn’t be happier here!

  12. My parents moved from Alabama to Florida (where they have no family and knew nobody at the time) but my father had a job that he requested a transfer for. It was still difficult, they were stuck in a hotel, living out a uhaul for several weeks before they found an apartment. It’s possible to do it without a job first but I would certainly recommend having money saved up first. At least enough for food and such, and a hotel if you would like but of course you could just get a tent and camp out (or sleep in the back of the uhaul!) I would love to do something like that as well but I guess I just don’t have the guts for it. I’m not much of a planner but I am a biiiiig worrier.

  13. Me and the boyfriend are trying to move to WA. however we live on Maui. Trying to save money whilst living here is nearly impossible. On average our gas is about $6 a gallon. its $10 for a gallon of milk! I’ve got a good job with great pay but Moving outta state is terrifying. I’ve been steady saving money and can transfer to Seattle with work, which is good but I don’t think he can transfer with his job. There’s no way I’ll be able to hold us up on my own. But yes! Having a job BEFORE you move up is essential! You actually might be alright for a few weeks because you’ve saved so much but I’d get on that immediately! See if you can transfer through your current job.

  14. No matter how you decide to move out of state, if you’re moving with furniture then its going to be expensive. If you’re moving without any type of savings or temporary living arrangement in your new location to help get you on your feet (income) then you are probably setting yourself up for a hard time. I just recently moved out of Phoenix to a town called Valle right outside the Grand Canyon and it was $300 for a U-haul and gas. I drove the truck while my wife drove the car. That’s not too bad for a 2 bedroom apartment, but in reality it was only 3 hours away. The longer distance you are planning to move, especially if its out of state, make the costs and stress go up. I always recommend to people moving out of state to sell off all of their furniture and buy it new at their new destination. It’s more economical and affordable to do that these days.

  15. Hiiii.
    A year ago, Husband and I embarked on this journey from CA. We’ve arrived settled in a new city this week (Houston) and are soooo happy.

    Here are my 5 top nuggets of experience to pass along. BEST WISHES!!!!

    1) It’s expensive. Have savings or at least a credit card you don’t mind running up a bit. (This second part only if you are confident you can make minimum payments.) If you are ok with or able to get public assistance for food or bills, go for it.

    Make a budget based on what it costs you to live per month so you know how long you have before you need permanent digs. If you can, simplify your life so it’s cheaper.

    Sell lots of stuff. If it’s not worth it to pay $$$$ to move or store, get rid of it.

    2) It’s intimidating. Make friends/network yourself into the city you want to move to. I’m always excited to learn that the strange new city I’m moving to is the hometown of this or that friend, or surprise, I already know 5 people there. Friends can give you cheap living advice, job leads, home cooked meals, or even a crash pad till you get settled.

    Family or friends may also let you store your stuff for cheap or free till you get settled.

    3) It’s uncertain. So apply for work in several cities at once. Your goal is to move out of state, but your Ideal City may need to be a bit flexible or be an end goal with a few stops along the way. Remember, its also ok to take temporary work or switch fields if it gets you out of your current situation and on the road.

    Get a linked in profile and build yourself a website ( has free and easy site builders). Keep them updated with your cv and portfolio. Spend at least an hr every day applying for jobs in the few cities of your choice.

    Many rentals will give you a lease with an offer letter or proof if savings.

    Be open to temp or contract work. The benefits suck and pay may be lower, but it gets you making money in a new city, which is the toughest part of moving.

    4) It’s frustrating… but freeing! It takes a few months of planning, an open mind, and a fearless spirit. Don’t give up. Take it one day at a time. Be patiently persistent and you’ll get results.

  16. all these people who want to move to the insanely pretentious PNW. google “seattle freeze”. it’s real. coldest people i’ve ever met, & i’ve been ALL over. this ridiculous notion of the utopian PNW, it’s a fairy tale.

  17. We got lucky when my husband had an in person interview with a non-profit for a job 2300 miles away. Though we weren’t local, he was honest in telling them that we were planning on moving to that area, and he gave them an estimated move date. They loved him, and he got a job offer not long after his flight back from it. The kicker was they wanted him IMMEDIATELY. (Much sooner than our planned move date.) I had just a little over 2 weeks to pack up and move us out from PA to AZ. We got a pod to move our stuff (and store it at their warehouse until we found a place.) We each drove our cars the full 2300 miles over 4 days. Quite a trip, but it was glorious. 😉 It was definitely a very stressful but very fun 3 weeks of chaos. I think it helped that we were moving to an area that has had a resurgence in the job market. I’m not sure about Oregon now, but when I applied for work out there 4 years ago, there was a bit of a lull in my industry. We still love the pacific northwest and want to move there, but there just hasn’t been any work for us.

    To add to the advice above: Save your receipts! If you are moving 50 miles or more and find work within 12 months of your move (it doesn’t have to be immediate) all of your moving expenses are tax deductible. Gas, hotels, moving truck, it all adds up so fast. It’s amazing how much it costs, and how much you could get back. 😉
    Good luck!

  18. I’m moving cross country from Iowa to California in a few weeks. The way I’ve been able to do this is that I work freelance for myself. I can essentially do my work from anywhere, so I always have a job.

    I know this isn’t realistic for everyone, but maybe you could talk to current employers about doing your current jobs remotely.

    Another option is transitioning to a remote style job before you move. Freelancing is on the rise and there’s a lot of opportunity currently. Then once you have a mobile job…you can move anywhere. And then if you prefer, you can transfer to a more permanent position once you’ve moved.

    Best of luck to you! I’m freaking out about my cross country move currently, but also excited.

  19. I don’t know where in Oregon you are trying to relocate to but if it’s the Portland area, I would keep in mind that the city proper has one of the lowest vacancies rates in the country. It’s seriously cut throat to find a reasonably priced apartment right now so, if you have a car, it may be a better option to look at those big complexes in the suburbs (Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard, Gresham, or Vancouver, WA) to find an initial resting spot and then work your way into the city once you have a job. Service industry jobs are fairly easy to come by and like someone else noted, are full of overqualified people (I have a BS and manage a coffee shop). May be easier to find a service job then hold out for something in your field unless you are in the STEM industry.

  20. I suggest that whatever you do, please don’t break your apartment lease. If you do break it in California and move out to Oregon and decide to rent a new one, you’ll have a blemish on your credit report, if you did in fact break one on Cali.

  21. I hard now days, there is so much red tape because the economy is terrible. My mom and I recently tried to relocate from NJ to NC, it’s hard. They want you to have 3x the rent if you don’t already work locally, you can’t secure a job without living there; the entire process is so stupid.
    I had money for 4 months worth of rent plus security while looking for a new job in my new state; I didn’t have 3 months of money to pay up front all at once. So my mother and I stayed at a hotel but that gets costly, so I ended up back in NJ staying with relatives, my mother decided to stay in NC to make it work. It pisses me off that I can’t move when I want, where I want. I planned on starting a home based business in NC which is more affordable in NC than in NJ; but because of the red tape bs in housing, I still can’t.
    Now that I’m back in NJ, I have to work 2-3 jobs just to save up to move back to NC permanently, plus deal with the high cost of living in NJ and its going to take at least 3 years to accomplish this, because most of the jobs available are part time.
    It never use to be like that,people were free to move around when they wanted, you secured a job after you chose an area to live in; now it’s the other way around you have find a job before you move, hope and pray you like the area then find housing, really stupid.
    unfortunately while the working class was working and planning for their future, the government was busy taking away some of our rights. Now I know why I haven’t met interesting people in the last 10 years, the people that moved to NJ because of better job opportunities are shocked by the high cost of living and are only happy about the move because of the job opportunity.
    it’s really sad when you move to another state not because you were interested in moving there for a change of pace, a change of atmosphere or a better quality of life, but you moved because of a job. With the economy being bad layoffs are happening left and right, the people that move to NJ because of the job opportunities are now stuck in NJ with a low paying job and a high cost of living.
    It’s terrible how things are going, only the rich can do whatever they want and move whenever the want.
    The only way I heard it can work, moving to another state without worrying about having a job lined up: is if you buy or rent directly from the owner, without any realtor involvement. but you have to drive around or look in local paper for a sale or rent by owner listing, many of those owners are older people and they don’t use internet.

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