Pro tips for relocating for a job

You just landed the job offer of your dreams and you’re walking on air. Hopefully your new job will help you learn and grow in your career. Then you start to get butterflies in your stomach when you realize that you are going to move to a new city. It’s exciting and also a tiny bit unnerving for even the most organized, seasoned traveller.

As a recruiter I’ve helped over a hundred people move to a new city and I thought it might be interesting to share with you some insights from my experiences as well as those from some folks on our team (many of whom have moved here from another city). I’ve broken down our insights into 2 parts: your offer and your move. If you are considering a move to a new city in a new job keep reading….

The Offer

1. Consider cost of living differences.

It’s hard to compare how far your salary dollar will stretch in different parts of the country. There are a few online salary calculators that help you to compare the cost of living in different parts of the US. They consider things like salary, housing costs, utilities, transportation etc… A few I suggest are from Salary Expert and CNN Money. As a simple example, a salary of $50,000 in San Francisco, CA equates to a salary of $25,730 in Durham, NC.

2. Ask the right questions.

Make sure to have a few questions ready to ask your new employer about your relocation. For example, when and how will your relocation bonus be paid? Will you get a lump sum payment or be reimbursed for specific moving related expenses? What are the tax implications put on the relocation bonus? How long do you have to relocate and start your new job, 2 weeks or 2 months? Do they offer resources for people who are moving from outside of the area - such as realtor recommendations or information about the area - that could help you decide where in town would be good commute-wise.

Melanie, a Senior Content Strategist at Willowtree, advises, “Most employers will work with you to provide help with relocation. Don’t be afraid to be upfront with the amount (of both money and time) that you will need to move. A good employer will at least try to accommodate you.”

The Move

3. Start planning early.

As soon as you know you’re going to sign on with your amazing new job, start planning your move. Start looking for apartments/homes as soon as you sign your offer. Apartments usually know around 3 months in advance when someone is going to move out, however some residents will let the apartment know 4 or 5 months beforehand. Some apartments will also start waiting lists if they have a lot of interest, so start looking soon.

Start packing as soon as you know you are going to move - you always have more stuff than you think. There are things you probably don’t use often that you can start packing right away. For example: put all your seasonal clothes/shoes into boxes.

4. Get to know the real estate market.

Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.Com, and the local MLS will become your best friend. Even your Google Maps App can help you find apartments near your new workplace. apartments near WT These sites can help you research the market for rentals or sales. Make sure to ask your new company if they get any sort of discounts with local housing communities. Figure out how far you are willing to commute to your new workplace and start searching from there.’s app allows you to filter apartments by how long you are willing to commute.

Ayesha, Product Strategist at WillowTree, suggests, “Other things you should decide before you start looking for housing is your price point, of course, but then also narrow down other things like whether or not a washing machine/ dryer is a must-have for you. When calculating cost be sure to ask each property if any utilities are included and if not, ask for estimates on how much things like pet rent, water, electricity, and internet would cost (best guess). Build all of these costs in when making your decision." Ayesha even created a checklist of questions to ask current residents and property managers, with note-taking areas, when looking at different rentals which we have included for you to use.

5. Don’t be afraid to move into a short-term rental.

The important thing is to get into place. Then you can find a more long-term place to live. Alan, a Software Engineer at WillowTree, recommends, “Rent an apartment for at least a year to get a sense of where you should live, such as activities you take part in, where your friends end up, grocery stores, etc…” Mike, a Senior Data Scientist at WillowTree, writes, “Rent first, if moving, to see what your day-to-day lifestyle is. Better to toss a bit out in rent and insure yourself against purchasing into lifestyle constraints based on imagination rather than experience. Look at buying during that first year.”

6. Explore the area.

“Set a few hours of a day aside dedicated to driving aimlessly without a GPS. It helps with learning the roads and let’s you see inside your new city super early,” recommends Steve, a Software Engineer at WillowTree.

7. Ask for recommendations!

Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter/ point of contact for some recommendations. Most points of contact usually have a go-to list they can send and, if not, they could always ask their team for some recommendations. May sure to pay attention to reviews on sites like Yelp.

8. Make friends at work.

Get involved in social outings - don’t be afraid to put aside your schedule to go out and get a drink or a bite to eat with your new co-workers - that’s how you learn about what’s going on in the community. Check to see if your new company has a channel on their internal message system (like Slack) that is dedicated to social events. This is a great way to see what those around you are interested in.

Here are a few useful links if you are considering a new role with WillowTree in Charlottesville, VA or Durham, NC.



Blue Ridge Apartment Council “#1 source for best apartment rentals in Cville”

Apartment complexes that allow large dogs

Short-term Stay:


Affordable Suites

Durham, NC:

Durham, NC Newcomers

Work In The Triangle

Hope this helps! Don’t hesitate to ask us questions. We realize this is a big transition and we would love to help.

If you are getting geared up to move for your upcoming summer internship, check out the related blog post from our Campus Recruiter, Lizzie Batman, focusing on “subletting for your summer internship.”

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