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If you’re getting ready to relocate, you’re probably starting to realize that “relocating” and “moving” are not interchangeable words. In fact, there’s so much more to relocating than simply moving. The move itself is actually just one small part of a complex process that begins long before you settle into your new home. As a matter of fact, when you begin this undertaking, you’ll encounter five distinct stages of the relocation process. Each one has its own objective and challenges, and you have to work through every phase in order to ensure a smooth transition to your new city. You could probably use some advice as well—and that’s where KNOWAtlanta can help. Here, we’ve asked real estate and moving experts to offer suggestions for tackling those five fundamental stages of relocation. Check them out before you pull up stakes and head to your new hometown.
Stage One: The Reason
It all starts here. Typically, you don’t just wake up one morning and decide to relocate to another city (although, for some, that could be the case). There’s usually a specific reason that prompts such a major life change. According to Joel Strimban, managing broker of KNOWAtlanta Real Estate Services, there actually could be any number of motivations encouraging you to move to a location like metro Atlanta.
“You could have a new job, you might want to be closer to friends and relatives, you could want a better cost of living or you could want to attend an Atlanta-based college or university,” he says. And the list goes on and on. The key to addressing this stage of the process is to clearly identify your reason for relocating, as that knowledge will inform every decision you make from this point forward.
Stage Two: The Education
You know you want to move to metro Atlanta. Now what? If you aren’t familiar with the city, you’ll need to learn as much as you can to make educated decisions. Of course, a quick Google search is a good place to start, but you can quickly find yourself inundated with more information than you need. So be strategic with your research, focusing on the specific areas in which you may want to live. This early stage is also the time to look at real estate options online so you can see what’s available in your potential price range.
Of course, don’t be afraid to move outside of basic Internet research. For instance, Strimban recommends reading Atlanta-based publications and speaking with friends or relatives who live in the area. Now is also when you should connect with a real estate professional who can guide you through the next stage of the relocation process. Strimban says, “Find a good agent who is familiar with your areas of interest, from schools for your children to proximity to public transportation to shopping in the area.”
Stage Three: The Active Search
It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. You need to visit the metro Atlanta area to begin your active home search. However, Strimban advises you not to miss an important step.
“Get pre-qualified,” he says. By getting pre-approved for a home loan, you’ll know exactly what you can afford, as this process involves a lender analyzing your income, debt, credit history and savings to determine the maximum amount you can borrow. What’s more, sellers are more likely to accept an offer you make when you have a preapproval.
During your house hunting visit, you’ll look at many homes. You may even check out some local attractions. And you could even plan to make subsequent trips before your final decision. The number of trips will be up to you. “It really depends on how long you have before you have to move,” Strimban notes. Just be sure you understand the state of the metro Atlanta real estate market. “If you are looking for homes priced under $400K, then you’ll need to as soon as you find a home that fits your needs,” he continues. “In most areas of Atlanta, day on market (DOM) is less than 60 days.” If you’re pre-qualified, then you can get the ball rolling straight away.
Stage Four: The Transition
As with the entire relocation process, there’s more to moving day than meets the eye. For starters, Orlando Lynch, owner and CEO of Atlanta Peach Movers, suggests contacting a moving company at least 45 days prior to your move (if possible). To find the right moving company, get some recommendations from your real estate agent and ask plenty of questions of your top contenders.
“Find out how long they have been in business, find out about their hiring process and make sure they do background checks on their employees,” Lynch says. Also inquire about how each company handles claims if something goes awry. “If there are any claims on your move, how are they addressed and how long does it take to settle a claim? It is very important to know that moving locally, you have 90 days to file a claim. If you move interstate, you have nine months to file a claim.”
When it comes to packing, Lynch notes that if you are on a budget, it’s best to pack (and move) as much as you can yourself to save money. “The better prepared the customer is, the less the cost of the move will be,” he says. For moving day, he advises that you remove any unwanted items that you do not want packed, secure your valuables and label boxes for specific rooms to be placed at your destination. Also, have two contact numbers for the company on hand, as well as the name and number of the supervisor.
”Provide the mover with as much information as possible and address your major concerns—that way, the mover can meet your expectations,” Lynch says.
Stage Five: The Moment You’ve Been Waiting For
You’ve arrived! It feels great, but unpacking can feel overwhelming. According to PublicStorage.com, it’s best to unpack room by room, starting with essential areas like the kitchen, master bedroom and playroom (to keep kids occupied while you unpack). Rooms that can be left for the end include the living room, the bathroom (other than essential items like towels, toilet paper and personal items) and the garage. Take your time. It’s been a long journey, and this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. So enjoy it! And as soon as you can, get out there and start exploring the city you’ve chosen to call home.