Planning Financially for a Long Distance Move

In fall 2013, my husband applied to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which is near Boston, MA. We were both born and raised in Iowa and a move this big seemed pretty daunting to us as 23-year-old newlyweds. My brain is budget oriented so I immediately started crunching numbers and looking for money advice for a move like this. It was hard to find, so I thought I would post how we prepared for the move.

1) Start saving now. 2013 was a big year of paying off debt for Chad and I, but as soon as we knew that seminary was a good possibility, we stopped throwing money at our debt and started saving everything we had. I don’t think you can make a mistake saving too much!

2) Simplify. Get rid of some stuff you don’t need. Unfortunately we were not moving during garage sale season, so we ended up giving a lot of our stuff away for free. You will either save money by selling your things, or by needing a smaller U-Haul to move all of your stuff, which brings me to #3.

3) Decide how to move your stuff. Chad was in charge of this part because it stressed me out. We decided to use a storage pod to move our stuff across country so we didn’t have to drive 20+ hours with a trailer behind us. It ended up being cheaper and less stressful for us, but this is definitely more for people who don’t have a ton of stuff. Check it out (

4) Live one month with someone for free. If you have a generous family member or friend who has some extra space, try and see if they’ll help you out. Chad’s parents were a huge help to us and let us stay in their basement for a month or so before we moved. This not only saved us a month’s worth of rent and utilities but we also got to spend wonderful time with them before having to say goodbye.

5) Prepare for your next job. If you’re moving for a job you’ve already landed, that is great. Chad and I were moving for his master’s degree and I didn’t have a job lined up before moving. I did try applying and interviewing before we moved, which I recommend. I made a connection with an HR representative who actually helped me score another interview after we got to Massachusetts. At the very least I recommend these two things: You have to update your resume and have it ready to go. You need 1-2 job interview outfits you feel fully confident in. Consider applying for a part time job and/or a temp agency if you know you need income in the first 2 months, which brings me to #6.

6) Estimate cost of living. Chad and I had our apartment picked out before moving so we knew what our rent would be. With rent, groceries, undergrad loan payments, health insurance, cell phones, etc. We knew our spending would be about $1,800/month.

7) Think pessimistically. I bumped our budget up to $2,000/month because I knew there may be unexpected costs that come up. When saving in preparation for a move, think pessimistically. Expect not to find a job right away. I feel like I got lucky finding a job within 3 months of moving. I recommend saving 6-9 months worth of expenses just in case you don’t find a job right away. Especially if you know you’re a picky job hunter 🙂

8) Plan for the unexpected. For example, when we moved in we found out our apartment did not come with a microwave or curtains. We also have money set aside in case an emergency happens in Iowa that we’d have to fly back in a day.

9) Enjoy the trip to your new home. The opportunity to drive from Iowa to Massachusetts is rare, so we tried to have as much fun as possible. We played games, planned a detour through New York City, laughed, cried about our goodbyes, listened to music, and had fun. If you plan as much as you can ahead of time, the move itself can be fun. 

10) If you’re sad, set a date to visit family/friends. Having a date in mind/something to look forward to, can be the light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

Everybody’s story and experience is different, but I hope this is helpful.

-Chelsea Ryan


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