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What's the most financially smart way to move out of town after graduation?

I'll be finishing my undergrad in about a year and have always had a passion for travel, immersing myself in different cultures, new people, and foreign places. I have had this goal to move out of my college town after I finish my degree as a challenge to myself to build new community, meet more people from across the country or world, and get to know myself better. Is this a good idea? I'm very aware of how expensive moving is and I'm worried about finding a job and place to live far from home. Should I wait a year after I graduate until I take the leap? Is this goal setting myself up for financial failure? #postgrad #travel #dream

Probably the most financially smart way to move after finishing your undergrad work is to find a job elsewhere. Hopefully, your school has opportunities for just this scenario. Joining the Peace Corps or Americorps is also a good way to experience a different location for a defined period of time. In the meantime, as you finish your degree, perhaps you can find an internship or volunteering role that would take you out of your town and offer some hands-on experience in your field which would then allow you to explore broader options after graduation. Susan Waldau

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Michael’s Answer

Hello Alexa,

Have you considered volunteer opportunities? I know lots of people who have had great experience working on international volunteer and internship opportunities, which have led to exciting career options in unexpected places. Taking a leap after graduation is a great time to do it - you'll find that as you become more settled in, it can become more difficult to go out and take opportunities to have a real adventure. In a lot of places with a low cost of living (e.g. South Asia, Eastern Europe), the really big cost is getting there - everything else is really manageable on a budget, and there are usually opportunities to earn a quick buck. Are you more worried about your finances at this point, or the opportunity to explore before picking a place to settle down?

It looks like you're in the US, so I would recommend looking up USAID and the Peace Corps. Depending on your degree, there might also be work opportunities with big development companies like Chemonics, DAI, and Tetra Tech. You might also want to take a look at organizations like Save the Children, the World Food Program, International Rescue Committee, and Medicins Sans Frontieres. Lots of volunteer and internship opportunities pay for your travel and give you a stipend to live on. There are often smaller non-profit organizations operating locally that might be of great interest if you have somewhere in mind!

Some universities also have fellowship programs - for example, Princeton in Asia, that might be of interest. I met a couple Princeton fellows in Myanmar when I was working there, and it looked like they were doing some interesting work in addition to traveling all of the time. There's always the option to study abroad for your Master's, which can be far less expensive and more rewarding than doing it at home. I have some friends from the US who did theirs in Czechia through the Central European Studies Program at the University of Economics, Prague (<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Vysoká škola ekonomická v Praze), and they loved it (I did a semester in the program and loved it too). Some countries (like Czechia) allow you to stay on a work visa if you graduate from a university there, which is a great opportunity.</span>

Good luck with your post-grad adventure! I have a lot of great friends that spent lots of time wandering around doing odd jobs, seeing amazing things, and making lifelong friends. The tough part is always getting there in the first place - everything else is is just a question of where you go next!



Michael recommends the following next steps:

Think of a corner of the world you would like to explore.
Decide whether you would like to study, work, volunteer, or a combination.
Look up local universities, volunteering, or internship/fellowship opportunities.
Read a guide book - lonely planet is great.
Set aside a budget and a general timeline.

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Kim’s Answer


I don't know if this will give you what you are after, but Amtrak offers some VERY reasonably priced cross-country train trips, and I THINK (?) it includes an option to get off, stay for a while, and then hop back on, as long as the trip is finished within a certain amount of time. The logistics of food and housing would need to be worked out. Not sure if we have youth hostels in this country.

Another idea is to work for the Peace Corps or Americorps or whatever other similar programs are out there. It pays a little. You could do that for a year or two and then set about to finding your career/job.

Is moving out right after graduating a good idea? Possibly not. Unless you like total upheaval in your life. It's nice to have a "rock" that you can depend on, someone or something that is there, and not too far away. Skipping the financial implications, I'd be concerned more about the mental health aspects. I went through a situation where I had to turn down a job offer, as I decided it was just too much change in the course of one week - finalizing divorce, buying a house, AND starting a new job????? yikes!!!

What you might think of doing is finding a way to celebrate, to mark the end of your "childhood" and the beginning of your "adulthood." I went up for a glider flight to celebrate the end of one chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one. Go for an introductory skydiving lesson or something - I think that might give you what you are looking for without totally putting your finances into a panic mode!

Stay the course - you are almost there!!