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, most of the arrangements beforehand needed to be made 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).
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.
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.
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