Some random bits of advice about moving across the country… Some may be specific to Madison, WI (where I’m moving to)
If you want to take your furniture and/or have a lot of stuff, consider using a pod. For me, it was cheaper to use a pod from U-Pack then to U-haul it to my mom’s for the summer then U-haul it to Madison in August. Plus, no driving a U-haul! Yeah!! There’s Pods, Door-to-Door, U-Pack, and several other companies that place a pod right outside your house, you fill it, they store it all summer, they ship it to your new local, they put it on your new lawn and TA-DA! All your belongings are there! Also, you didn’t have to move it home, unpack it, repack it, and move it again. That just sounds exhausting…
If you’re going to be living in a city (especially one with snow issues like Madison) and you have a car… get it a parking spot. I’ve never lived in the city-proper without a driveway so it was not so exciting news to me to learn that for street parking during the winter, you park on one side of the street on odd days and the other side on even days… that means moving your car EVERYDAY! Now, I really don’t intend to drive to school… ah… ever… So that would mean going out, turning my car on, moving to the other side, and turning it off everyday. 1) Waste of time. 2) Annoying. 3) That’s going to run the battery down so that one day in the freezing cold… it ain’t gonna start anymore! Bad news bears all around. Covered parking is worth it if you’re going to drive often, probably not so much for those of us who will only need to dig the car out, say, once a month.
If you want a roommate, there’s always Craiglist and I’ve heard many wonderful stories from people who’ve used that. It can be nice to not live with other graduate students, to live with people with interests and jobs different from your own. However, it is hit and miss. I emailed everyone who is starting in my grad program in the fall and asked, “Hey, who wants to get a house together?” I gave them a few details (have a cat, want own room, etc.) and I ended up getting a 2 bedroom with another first year. Another option is contacting your student host from the program and asking them to ask around if anyone needs a roommate.
If you want something other than an apartment in a high-rise or some other dime a dozen place, start looking for housing the second you accept the offer from the program. This will happen probably in April. News flash: students in that area that want to move the next year started looking at places in March. And your process will take longer since you need to ask someone else to visit the places in person. Get in there and get a good place! I didn’t rush on this and ended up with a place that’s okay but I already have every intention of moving next year. Coin-op laundry in a separate building? Ew…
So those are the main issues I ran into with my move to grad school. Hope it helps someone!