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Neuro_Natural17

First time grad student moving states alone

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Hi everyone!

I recently got accepted into an experimental psychology master's program at Radford University. I'm super excited but quite nervous. I'll be moving from Florida to Virginia alone.  Does anyone have any moving advice for me? Currently looking into places to live but it'll also be my first time living on my own, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Also, any words of wisdom for grad school? 

Thank you!! :)

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Congrats on your acceptance!  The experience of moving alone and then living alone will be whatever you make of it.  I decided it would be an adventure and so far it still is.  For the actual move I would say safety first.  Do not have your car packed to the brim as you drive and stop to gas up or for the night.  I packed my trunk before I left and didn't open it again until I arrived at my final destination and kept the interior of my car empty.  Everything I could possible need for the trip fit into my large purse or I just went without it.  I only stopped for gas/food at well lit places with lots of foot traffic and overnight stays were in well known cities (nothing off the beaten path) and in busy neighborhoods.  I strongly suggest a separate navigation system because some parts of our country still don't have great cell reception and you won't know that until you're there.  Satellites don't seem to have that problem.  Also have music, road trip snacks, and wear compression socks.

I have enjoyed living alone because my space is how I want it at all times.  I don't have to bother with anyone else's mood, stuff, or irritating habits.  I work from home most days, can easily unwind here, and if I don't feel like cleaning up (I'm not a slob or anything lol) then no one is here to complain about it.  I am very outgoing so I just go out to socialize regularly.  It is really easy to get overwhelmed by all of the school stuff there is to do and feel like there isn't time to have fun, but when you combine that with spending a ton of time home alone its a recipe for disaster.  I have found it really helpful to plan social outings in advance.  For example I'll buy a ticket to an event 3 months away or book a trip for spring break months in advance.  This way every month there is something fun happening and even if day of I'm tired and have a zillion things to do I'm going because I committed and can't stand to waste money.

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I'm in a similar boat, going from West Coast to East Coast. At the moment, I'm thinking of using POD storage units to move my stuff. I have too much for just my car trunk, but not enough for a UHaul or moving company. So a POD storage works out pretty well considering I am also planning on doing a road trip in the process of moving (i.e. so it'll probably take me anywhere from 6-10 days to get to my destination). POD moves your storage unit, then keeps it there till you get there, and then delivers it to your door when you arrive to your new place (so pretty convenient), especially if you don't have an exact date of when you'll be at your new place, but want your stuff immediately there once you get there. You also don't have to worry about getting any of your stuff jacked or driving in bad neighborhoods (since your car will be practically empty outside of clothes). I'd like to mention, I am planning on getting a few friends together for this however (for the road trip at least). This way when we finally reach my place, I also have a few buddies to help move my stuff to my new place. 

I have been contacting grad students there about safe but affordable places to live. I have also been asking about ease of drive and traffic (i.e. 20min away in LA really means 40-60min away in most places), and the place I'm moving to snows in the winter, so I need to know how well the streets are maintained. This has helped me create a budget so I can assess how much money I can spend on moving, how much money I'll need saved before my stipend kicks in, and how much money I can spend in addition to my stipend during the years I'm there based off my current savings. 

I plan on moving in about a week earlier than my program starts. This will give me time to move my stuff in, and travel around the city find the markets and places of interest, buy food and whatnot before I get busy with the program. I plan to fly in a month before that to find a place to live, sign some leases so that when I do officially move I"ll be set, and find grocery stores and whatnot so that I do have some place I can get food and stuff from when I first move in. As before, I have contacted the grad students as well, so I'll probably visit them during this month early trip just to introduce myself and say hi, and then actually hit them up and hang out with them the week before the semester starts. 

All of this is also related to my job as well. I started work on the 1st of November, so I plan to leave at the end of July (program starts on August 14th) so that it's a nice full cycle. None of these dates are set in stone (except August 14th), but just to give you an idea. I'm thinking of sending my storage unit out by the 23rd of July. My last day of work will be the 27th of July, and I will be leaving for my road trip the 28th of July. I plan to be at my new place by August 6th. This will give me 10 days to travel from coast to coast, which is plenty of time to sight see as well. It also gives me a week and a half before the semester starts, plenty of time to move in and get myself situated and set up. 

All of this is designed to help wrap up my job in a nice timely manner, leave plenty of time for my stuff to reach my new place, give me plenty of time to travel around, and plenty of time to move in. I want this move and transition from my old life to new life to be fun, and don't want it to be rushed and stressed. So I hope this helps!

 

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My first multi-state move for grad school was fairly easy because I had no furniture or a car so I just flew down to my new city and couch surfed at my friends before I could find an apartment. I want to say it took me a week or so to find an apartment (and a roommate since it was too pricey to live on my own). Then I went to IKEA with a borrowed car and bought a bedroom set.  They delivered it a couple days later and I was good to go.  This was about a month or so before school started since my assistantship started in the summer.  By the time school started, I felt fairly settled in the new city and I knew campus decently well too.

The subsequent moves after acquiring furniture, a car, and a pet were much more complicated...  

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My moving advice is to take as little as possible. POD services (which isn't just PODS but also a number of other companies offering similar services like ABF U-Pack, Uhaul's U-Box, etc.) can make your life easier by doing the driving of your belongings for you. I personally listen to a mix of playlists and audiobooks while on road trips and have a pretty solid routine when it comes to when and how often to stop. Some people will tell you not to use the rest stops you see on the highway but, others find these to be a good option because you know what they'll have. I'd bring snacks, beverages, etc. I have a small cooler that fits on the floor of my passenger seat which I use to keep things cool. If you aren't planning to do the drive in one day, identify several potential lodging options along the way well in advance so you aren't scrambling to find a room when you're already exhausted. My grandfather would advise that you never let yourself get below half a tank of gas since you never know when there could be roadwork or an accident that leaves you stuck on the highway. 

For finding a place, talk to current grad students. Use the resources available on the internet to your advantage. If possible, visit so you can tour places and get a sense of how things are laid out before committing to a place. One way to ease into living on your own might be to live with a roommate for your first year. Oh, and if you haven't already, think about how you'll budget so that you have money for books, to travel home during school breaks, to buy groceries, etc.

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If you're not super attached to your furniture, Amtrak and Greyhound both ship REALLY cheap. Amtrak is faster, but Greyhound looks cheaper and has fewer restrictions. Even considering the cost of storing things yourself and transfer to and from the station, it's a really great deal.

I'm moving cross-country (East coast to West coast), and the trip should take about a week. I'm planning to sell my furniture, seriously winnow down my belongings, and ship via Greyhound. It should cost ~$300. (The Amtrak estimate was pretty similar, but I'd have to pay for storage because my stuff would likely make the trip faster than I did.) I'll take the essentials on my roadtrip and live out of a suitcase for about three weeks while I look for housing and stay in an AirBnB.

This option works for me because I'm transitioning from living by myself in a studio to living in a shared apartment, so I would need to get rid of a lot of my stuff anyway. I'll only need to replace my bed and bookshelves, which I can do for well under the ~$1000 I'll save by using this method rather than PODS.

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