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Moving to another city. Any tips or suggestions?

  1. May 4, 2012 #1
    So my girlfriend and I are moving to Boston in August so I can attend grad school there. But neither of us have moved to another town before, so we don't really know how the logistics work. I'm looking for any tips or tricks or things to watch out for about the actual mechanics of moving to and living in a new town.

    Some questions I have.

    1) How much lead time is needed to find a place to stay? Is it worthwhile looking for a place 3 months in advance? Or is this something that could reasonably wait until July? Should we trust internet pictures and Yelp reviews about apartments? Or should we schedule a trip up there to inspect the places in person (which will be an expensive trip).

    2) Similar question about employment. I have my TA'ship lined up, but she would need to find a job there. How does one find jobs in other cities? Do people get hired based only on phone interviews in situations like this? Does she need to wait until she actually physically moves there? And how far in advance should she be looking?

    3) Any tips or tricks on physically moving? Baltimore to Boston is too long for us to just drive a U-Haul truck up there, and I really don't know if services such as PODS work well in a crowded city like Boston. If we hire somebody to haul our stuff, should we arrive in Boston a day in advance of our belongings, and maybe stay in a hotel? Or should we try to time it such that we arrive at the same time as the stuff?

    4) Is there anything else I should be wary of?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2012 #2


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    I'd say moving to boston, that you should start looking now so that you don't have to settle for a dump in a bad area because you have no time, and look at the surrounding areas, Boston is expensive.

    After narrowing down choices, you must go in person. No one is going to show you the bad stuff online.

    For jobs in other cities, job websites, like monster.com are excellent.

    PODS is a good choice since they will hold your belongings and then deliver when you are ready. Be sure there is some place you can park the pod if you may need it there overnight. Although I have slept on the floor waiting for furniture to arrive, budget for a hotel and meals. Make sure you arrange for all utilities to be turned on.

    If you are renting an apartment, check websites that rate them and post feedback from tenants. Check with police to see what crime is like in the neighborhood. if you have a chance to visit before deciding, go several miles around the neighborhood, talk to people, stop in eateries. If you plan to rent from a landlord, check the BB and even police to see if their have been problems reported.

    As with any rental property CHECK EVERTHING!!! Open every window and door, turn on all appliances to make sure they are all working properly. Run the baths and showers, sinks, check drainage, run air conditioning/heating. See if you can talk to neighbors to find out about noise problems.
  4. May 4, 2012 #3


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    Get a good map and GPS.
  5. May 4, 2012 #4
    From personal experience:
    It takes about a week to find a place depending how lucky you are. It's very hard to secure a place remotely because most people ask for security. In my case, I mostly ended up taking risk and sending the security without inspecting the place in person first. I never ran into a fraud. Generally, you can tell how someone talks on phone or writes you email. I stay away from people who claim I can't find any place better than theirs or those who talk bit too much :rofl:.
    For temporary jobs (few months contract), some companies will hire based on only phone interviews. I am not sure about full times. Good companies will fly you there.

    And, I forgot about these things which are also very important:
    I used this website: http://spotcrime.com/
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  6. May 4, 2012 #5
    Thanks for the responses so far.
    I've been to Boston twice so far (both times in the past few months), and my iPhone has done the trick pretty well. I even got a chance to walk around some potential neighborhoods while I was there for the Northeastern open house. I was told to look at places in Fenway (including Symphony), Back Bay, and South End, and to avoid Mission Hill and Jamaica Plains.
  7. May 5, 2012 #6


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    Why do you say this? Lots of people drive this far and a lot further. I drove a U-Haul from Chicago to Seattle a few years back. U-Haul and other companies like them are set up for people moving long distances - they make it pretty easy. It's also a whole lot cheaper than having someone move you.
  8. May 5, 2012 #7


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    My parents, who are in their 80s just drove from Houston, Tx to Charlotte, NC in a U-Haul truck. They are moving some of their stuff rather than wait for a moving company.

    When I left university for employment, I stayed in a hotel for a week while looking for an apartment in the area. My wife stayed with her sister. I found a place, and I more or less moved in although the furniture would not arrive for a week.

    Others have given good ideas on logistics. In the Boston area, folks often try to live near one of the MBTA rail lines.

    Perhaps the university has offices that help students with housing and jobs.
  9. May 5, 2012 #8


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    I think you should be ready to take a bit of a financial hit if your girlfriend can't find a job right away. Not sure about Boston, but in general it's still a tight job market, even for people applying from the local area. Lining up a job from a remote location could be tough.

    I suggest trying temp agencies. She'll have a bit of income right away, and she will find out where is geographically feasible to work (can't always tell commute times by looking at a map). Often temp jobs lead to permanent positions, too.
  10. May 5, 2012 #9
    She's a clinical microbiologist. I'm not sure if temp agencies deal with those.

    Allow me to rephrase. I would rather pay extra money rather than drive for 8 hours in a U-Haul truck. That sounds horrific.
  11. May 5, 2012 #10


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    When looking for a place to live, I try to check out the potential commute (including any tolls). Just check the online traffic cameras during the times that you expect to be driving.
  12. May 5, 2012 #11
    Not bringing a car to Boston. Public transportation is the way to go there, I hear. We spent a week up there when I went to the APS March Meeting, and I spent 2 days there for an open house, and not once did I need a car.
  13. May 5, 2012 #12

    Ben Niehoff

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    Don't get a hotel, get an air mattress. When I moved cross-country, I slept on an air mattress for 3 weeks before my stuff arrived. Your move is much shorter, I don't think you'll have a delay like that, but even one night in a hotel in Boston is probably more expensive than an air mattress.

    As for researching apartments online, remember to calibrate for the way people typically write reviews online: People are much more likely to complain about problems and blow them out of proportion than they are to rave about something good. Every place you look at will have negative reviews. Every place will probably have horrible-sounding negative reviews. You need to decide if the reviewer's expectations were reasonable to begin with.
  14. May 5, 2012 #13


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    Boston is not only expensive; it is a really tough place to get around in a car. If you can find an apartment in a safe area that is well-served by public transportation, it will be expensive. Can you get there and scout things out for a week or so before making your commitments? That would give you some perspective... Good luck.
  15. May 5, 2012 #14

    Ben Niehoff

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    LOL. I drove a U-Haul truck from Sacramento to Los Angeles, with my car in tow on a platform. This was about 16 hours, included a stop overnight in some hotel in the desert (116 degree heat), and then driving up the Grapevine. It's not as hard as you think, and they make the cabins of those trucks quite comfortable for long drives.
  16. May 6, 2012 #15
    Hey Jack :smile:

    I live in a suburb of Boston. I also did my BS and MS in Mech Eng at Northeastern. If that's where you are going and you have any questions, feel free to ask here or in a PM.
  17. May 6, 2012 #16
    You should look at a place in person first. If you are willing to pay extra money to not have to move your own stuff you should certainly be capable of spending the money to look at places in person. If you do not plan on having a car then you have just halved your concerns regarding living accommodations. Parking is often a hassle and your vehicle is generally your biggest security concern. You will of course need to consider the relative accessibility of public transport and how close things such as the grocery store are.

    My last apartment wound up having termites when I moved in. I already knew that I should not expect four star maintenance service but they would not even take care of the termites. I had to yank the infested wood myself and cross my fingers that they had not gotten into anything else. I looked at the place in advance and could not tell that there were termites. Imagine not looking at a place in advance.

    Things to look at: gates and lights.

    If you're not going for a gated complex/community then gates obviously don't matter but if it happens to have gates take a look at them. Most of the apartment complexes I have worked at have been gated. Almost all of them have been crap. The gates were consistently broken. The main one was always in fine repair since that would be the one that prospective residents would actually see and use but most of the rest would be broken most of the time.

    And lights. Any complex that does not make sure that all of the lights are in working order is going to be incredibly lax on maintenance. More than a couple lights out at any given time is a bad sign.

    The few relatively nice complexes I worked at always took care of their lights and only one of them even had gates. The complexes I have worked at without gates, but with good maintenance, have actually had less crime than the ones with gates, and even cameras, but crappy maintenance. At the place with cameras I frequently wound up writing reports about those cameras being smashed and stolen and as far as I know footage from those cameras was never used to catch any one breaking into cars and such. And what sort of areas were those places with good maintenance in? Right next to places with crappy maintenance and much higher crime rates. One place was even originally a larger complex but sold part of it to a company that let it go to ruin. We covered both and basically in the same complex the area with crappy maintenance had greater crime than the nicer part.

    This is from working/living in southern California. I suppose that it may not actually apply else where. And its all anecdotal of course.
  18. Aug 21, 2012 #17
    I'm resurrecting this thread to thank everybody for their help. The move went smoothly. We made a trip to look at apartments and for her to do interviews. She interviewed at three places and got two job offers (including one where they offered her more than the highball figure she was asking for).

    Moving was incredibly expensive, but it was offset somewhat by selling our cars. It seems we don't really need them here in Boston.

    The apartment is small-ish and expensive, but the location is perfect and the management company is very responsive (so far, anyway). My teaching assistant orientation is next week, and the semester starts the week after that. Looks like everything worked out just fine.

    Thanks again.
  19. Aug 23, 2012 #18


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    Nice to hear it all went well :smile:!
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