Moving to a new city

197 – Things to consider before moving to a new city

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”  – Alexander Graham Bell (Tweet this)

If you want to work in the music business, you have to be where the music is and the “big 4”
music cities are: Los Angeles, New York City, Nashville or Austin. Of course
there are other thriving music scenes, but these are the biggest. Assuming that
you did your research, you’ve already decided on what city you want to move to
and are ready to pack your bags…but wait! You may want to consider the

You’re ready to move, but where are you going to sleep? Make sure to locate an
apartment or call in a favor with a friend to crash on their couch until you find or
can afford your own place. Once you find an apartment, you’ll need first and last
months rent upfront, plus a security deposit. (Which can be pricey). Next, think
about phone, cable, internet, heat, and electricity. You can bank on $200-$300
per month for utilities. (Yes, you need Internet!)

Chances are you’re not going to be able to practice in your new house, especially
if it’s an apartment. Practice pads are great for staying fresh, but they don’t
replace time spent in front of a real kit. Consider renting a rehearsal spot.
Depending on availability and occupancy they can run anywhere from $100 –
$300 per month, or around $30-$40/hr. Check out Craigslist or chat up the local
musicians to find what’s available. (Expect to put down a security deposit for
practice space too – usually 2-3 months rent)

New York and Los Angeles are notorious for crowded streets and no parking. If
you decide to have a car, you should think about adding a parking garage fee to
your budget to the tune of $200 and upwards of $500/month.
Also, give your insurance company a call for a quote for where you’re moving.
Insurance in the city is almost always more expensive than in the suburbs. If you
don’t need your car every day, Zipcar and Enterprise Car Share can provide
you with cars on demand and are a much cheaper option.

If you don’t have weeks of gigs lined up in your new city, you’re going to need a
paying job. Part-time, freelance or restaurant work (wait staff/bartender) can help
pay the bills, while giving you the flexibility to gig, practice and work on your
business. I’ve always thought that bartending was the best bang for the buck.
You can make $1,000/week bartending with only working 3-4 shifts a week at a
busy bar.

With all of these expenses it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. You
can do it, but the key is saving money before you go. It’s always suggested that
if you save $5,000-$10,000 you’d have enough of a reserve to get you though
the rough times and help with your down payments and security deposits. This
money will also allow you to concentrate on your playing rather than focusing on
where the next meal is coming from. Proper planning is the best preparation. It’s
just as important as the hours and hours of shedding that you do – maybe even
more important. Make a plan to save 10% of your income and then build it to
15%. Track every dollar you spend and find ways to get to your goal as fast as

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