My 735 Mile Move: The Reality of Moving Far From Home

I recently made a long-distance move and it was difficult. Here I will focus on the emotional and practical challenges of my move.

If you read part-one to my 735-mile move, you know that I recently moved from Michigan to North Carolina—and it was difficult. The trip was 13+ hours of driving. If you want to know more about the challenges I experienced when moving long distances, head on over to part one. For this part of my story, I want to focus on the emotional and practical challenges that arose.

1st Month

The first weekend was easy because my family and boyfriend were still in town and we were keeping fairly busy. I was emotionally overwhelmed and found myself getting extra emotional, but in hindsight, the weekend was really good. Even after my family left, I was doing fine. It was very emotional when they left, but I was soon busy organizing and decorating all of my things.

It was the second week where I started finding myself getting lonely and tired of being in my apartment. I decided it was time to start looking for a job. Not only did I need the money, but it would provide me with a social network. Finding a social network to plug into is so important early on because it helps with those pesky lonely feelings.

potted cacti

Finding a job in a new area is very stressful. Not knowing anyone, or having any connections meant that I had to start from scratch. I decided to target cafes at first. First, I created a list of cafes near my apartment and took a day to drive to each and drop off my resume and fill out applications. I got lucky and got an interview that day, ultimately getting myself hired in. This really did help with the lonely.

Read more about coping with the loneliness that comes with moving far away from home HERE!

Bus vs. Driving

The next decision I needed to make was between driving my car everywhere or learning how to ride the bus. I had never ridden the bus at home because they did not come anywhere near my house, also, I have a car and did not feel the need. However, because of having a very tight budget, I was stuck trying to figure out what would be cheaper and more realistic.

I looked up bus fare and routes then calculated how much it would cost me to drive to school for the semester (over $300: gas and parking) and how much it would cost to take the bus ($250). There was still a dilemma because it would be a two and a half hour commute on the bus and a 15-minute commute in my car. Despite being more expensive, I opted to drive in order to reduce my own daily stress and to save myself valuable time. I experience a lot of anxiety in new and crowded situations, especially those that are out of my control. So, it was better than I dip into my financial aid to buy a parking pass and drive.

It sound like a methodical decision, however, I was extremely stressed about it and it affected my health. I highly recommend you look into transportation before moving, so that it isn’t something you need to worry about last minute like I did.

Making Friends

Making friends is actually the hardest part of this move. Remember, moving far away from home all by yourself is lonely. So, making friends is essential. I have managed to get along with several co-workers and classmates. But I am referring to finding a close friend to come to with problems. This is a lot harder because it means trusting a complete stranger with your emotions and inner thoughts. I really struggle with this.

essential oil square shelves

Making friends is something I am still not sure how to do, and I have been in North Carolina over a month now. I will keep you guys in the loop and I learn and improve my friend-making abilities.

Graduate School

Graduate school was the entire motivation for my move to North Carolina. This meant that graduate school took all priority. With two jobs and full-time graduate school, I found myself struggling the very first week. I was faced with a dilemma—I needed money to pay for school, but I needed more time from work to stay in school. After I spent a few weeks thinking about quitting my second job, I decided that this was the best idea for not only my education but for my mental health. I chose to pay for school and some of my bills using my financial aid (despite hating the idea of going further into debt). If you find yourself in a similar situation, always, always take into consideration your mental health and sanity, always.

I had originally expected to work two jobs and then complete my homework in the evening. And with my schedule, I was able to. However, I found myself overwhelmed with no time to myself. The deciding factor was reducing my stress.

Finances and Budgeting

Another huge area of stress immediately after my move to North Carolina was finances. Not only was moving expensive but paying bills without an income is expensive. I felt like I was constantly spending more money than I had to spend. Especially since I did not expect to be paid for my graduate assistant job until the end of September. I had to sit down and create a list of my bills and figure out how much was due and when it was due. I then had to make sure I put aside most of my tips from my serving job. This meant that I had to create a budget that had little wiggle room and I had to stick to it.

Not having a previous conception of my bills, outside of rent and car insurance, before the move I felt underprepared. With the help of budgeting, I never fell behind in my bills; however, I highly recommend that if you are planning a big move, set aside more money than you are expecting to need.

The point of this post was not to complain or to brag, show off, or complain. I simply wanted to provide a reality for someone else who might be preparing for a long-distance move for the first time. There is so much more to the process, that I had realized.

Want to know what happened while I was planning my move? Check out Part One to my 735 Mile Move: The Reality of Preparing For the Move

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I recently made a long-distance move and it was difficult. Here I will focus on the emotional and practical challenges of my move.

My 735 Mile Move: The Reality of Preparing For the Move

The first thing you need to know about my move to North Carolina is that it is at least an 11-hour road trip…not including making stops. Because of the distance, I had to make most of the arrangements beforehand over the phone or online. For a lot of things, this didn’t really matter much, but for others, it made things feel impossible.

My hope for writing this post is to better inform others of what to expect if they chose to make a long-distance move. I’m going to talk a lot about my struggles and the process. By no means am I discouraging anyone from doing what I’ve done, just know that it’s really hard, be informed.

Getting an Apartment

Getting an apartment was one of the most stressful aspects of the move. Without a place to live, I wouldn’t have gotten here in time for the semester to start, or I would have had to spend way too much money living in a hotel.

Step One: Research

The first thing I had to do was research apartments. This was difficult because I didn’t really know the area, and I wanted to live somewhere safe but also near school and work. Because of these unknowns, I created a list of about 6 apartments that seemed to have what I needed/wanted, had photos that made them seem like they were in a good area, and were within 15 minutes of my school.

Then I created a spreadsheet comparing each of them, and naturally, I had two favorites.

Step Two: Visit

Next, my grandma, aunt, and I took a weekend trip to North Carolina to visit each of these apartments. During this trip, I learned several things.

  • Nice pictures online, while helpful, can be wrong
  • Prices are generally higher than they say online
  • If I wanted to live in a nicer area, I had to be willing to pay at least $100 more each month
  • An upgraded apartment simply means a new paint job (probably not done wonderfully), new appliances (probably just black instead of white), and new fixtures (whoop-de-doo)
  • There are more costs than you think: application fee, the fee to hold the apartment, deposit, and additional couple month rent, etc.

I expected this trip to be fun and easy. I was wrong. It was incredibly stressful. My family was immensely concerned about my safety, which isn’t a bad thing. But, the safest places were WAY out of my price range. So, I had to choose from a step down in safety, not necessarily unsafe but probably no security cameras or security workers or gates. A large portion of the trip (and sometime after), my family members kept making comments about where they thought I should live despite knowing that I couldn’t afford it. This stressed me out, because I didn’t even want to look at places out of my price range, yet they wanted to look at all the really nice places. Money is tight, I couldn’t, my choices were limited and I had made up my mind.

Step Three: Getting An Apartment

Now that I’ve finished visiting and all my research, I have to apply. There are application fees, so I couldn’t go out and apply everywhere. I gambled—I applied to only one apartment complex (the only safe one in my price range). I crossed my finger and hoped that they let me in and THEN that they had an open apartment in time.

After the application went out, all I could do was wait. And, my luck, their phone calls were not going through, nor were their voicemails. It took me from the end of April to the middle of June to really get ahold of them outside of them telling me my application was accepted. Getting accepted wasn’t good enough though and I was calling almost daily to no avail. Thank goodness that I decided to shoot them an email.

They responded to my email very quickly and gave me an alternative number to call. They then called me every other day to update me on apartment openings and verify information. June 15th (only 2 months before classes start), they called me telling me that they had an opening. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I was desperate.

I had a month to prepare for the move.

Preparing for the Move in One Month

Getting a Job

Getting a  job is really hard to do from such a huge distance. Especially because I was looking for part-time. I had applied to become a graduate assistant at my school and got accepted at the same time I got the apartment, but this wasn’t going to be enough. I needed another job. The pressure was on, but I also felt as if I couldn’t really do anything because of a lack of responses I was getting using online means. I needed to go into the offices and facilities, but I couldn’t. I put this aside until after the move, but I knew I was going to have to kick my butt into gear immediately to be able to pay the bills (Stay tuned for Part 2 of My 735 Mile Move where I talk about this).

Tight Budgeting

This was my first apartment, so I had nearly nothing that I needed. So I had a lot of very strategic spending to do. I did not have a lot of money to spend, but I had a lot of things to buy. I started with the apartment fixings and utilities.

Finances

Utilities

When you get an apartment, you have to take care of a lot of things: insurance, gas, electricity, water, rent, trash, etc., most of which you need to have before you even move in. This wasn’t particularly stressful, but it was expensive. I had to make A LOT of phone calls and spend hundreds up front just to be able to move in. Because of this, I had a lot less money put aside for emergencies, and to spend on the apartment.

Buying all Necessities

I started by making a list of necessities like furniture, toiletries, a bed, appliances. Then I got on VarageSale. VarageSale is an app that would be similar to going to garage sales online. I was able to get a few bits of furniture using garage sale at a pretty good price. Including this lamp!

I also got super lucky and one of my grandma’s friends gave me a large amount of free (yeah, free) furniture. This was so amazing because I was so stressed about money and still needed larger items like a couch or somewhere to sit. My grandpa also gave me his old tv, which was very nice.

Planning Ahead

Not only did I have to be careful about my spending before the move, but I had to be saving a lot of money for after the move. I saved up a couple thousand, but a lot of that was gone before I even got to North Carolina. Naturally, this made me even more stressed about getting another job. I needed a couple thousand just in case I couldn’t find a job or an emergency happened, and I barely had this. But I trucked along, spending wisely.

The point of this post was not to complain or to brag or show off or anything. I simply wanted to provide a reality for someone else who might be preparing for a long-distance move for the first time. There is so much to the process.

Want to know what happened after I move? Check out Part Two to my 735 Mile Move: The Reality of Moving Far From Home

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