Welcome! I'm Katie Toomey, a freelance video editor living here in Los Angeles, CA. I started this “Get Moving” interview series in what feels like a long overdue fashion. After having many approach me about my own moving blog and how helpful it was to have another experience to read about or relate to, it sparked me to interview others in our industry who have made a move somewhere for their own work.
My aim is to help broaden the reach to share these stories for others out there, like me, who wanted to hear more perspectives to help build confidence, to relate to planning worries and execution woes, and to understand the struggles and even successes more fully. This series will hopefully help you gain wisdom to be better informed when and if taking that risk and leap for yourself.
I myself have made a rather large move (the biggest I've ever done to date) moving from the East coast in NC to the West coast to LA just last year. I wrote my “East to West Coast Moving Adventure” on Creative Cow very soon afterwards to document the process. I've been living in LA ever since. All these experiences will combine to make a collective resource that anyone can access - from any where, at any time. If you don’t know anyone who’s done this sort of thing, it can feel very isolating and impossible to manage on your own. You shouldn’t have to face this alone - and now, you won’t have to.
@abbym_clinton // Abby Clinton
Abby Clinton is working as a Post Production Coordinator at A24 in New York and training to be an Assistant Editor. Her goal is to edit for unscripted and documentary projects in the future. She was born in Chicago, IL and grew up in Joliet, IL. Next, she moved to Austin, TX for college and stayed there for a few years after graduation.
Then, she got rid of all her stuff and traveled for a few months around Europe! After that, she moved all the way to San Francisco, CA for six months, until the decision was finalized to move over towards Brooklyn, NY - a little over a year ago now.
In her spare time, she really loves sewing and embroidering, cooking, collaging, and teaching herself how to play the synthesizer. You can usually find Abby at the public library, one of her favorite places to go, searching for the next great story to read. Also, she has a dog named Fisher and a cat named Amadeus, and they are the best.
Katie: What event or situation sparked the move?
Abby: I went to film school at the University of Texas, but didn't really know what I wanted to do when I graduated. I had focused on producing while in school and worked on a handful of no-pay jobs for friends in the years after graduating, but that was it. I worked as a nanny for several filmmakers in town, in addition to teaching filmmaking courses for kids and working in a kitchen. It was fun for a while, but ultimately not very fulfilling.
My boyfriend and I decided we needed to make a big move and decided on New York. There were several other steps and moves in between, but we ultimately made it there, and as a result, I have found so many incredible career opportunities in the short amount of time I've been here.
Can you tell us some of the ways that the new area(s) differs from some of the other places you've lived or the last place you lived? What is similar and different for you? What do you like and dislike about your new area?
Even though I lived in some other places in between moving to New York, the last place I lived that really felt like home was Austin. Austin is very different from New York. I really miss how cheap it was to live there, the amazing music scene, and all of the beautiful surrounding nature.
New York nightlife and general cost of living is a lot more expensive, and there's not a ton of nature here. However, I love the public transportation and diversity in NY. I love that my laundromat, subway stop, grocery store, and neighborhood bar are all one block away from where I live.
Most of all though, I love the collective sense of ambition and motivation in New York. I love how laid-back and peaceful Austin is too, but I felt like that atmosphere was starting to hold me back; I was getting really complacent. New York is so fast-paced. Living here has forced me to focus on what I want and what I need to do to get there.
How did you begin to prepare for the move? What was most important to start right away on researching or doing for preparation?
LOTS of backwards planning. I basically looked at where I wanted to be and when, and made a timeline starting with the end goal. When I decided to move to NY, I started by thinking about how much money it would cost to move. I factored in air fare, a moving truck, a deposit, first month's rent, and living expenses for a month or two without a job. I also factored in a visit to look at apartments. Once I arrived at a realistic number, I looked at how much I was making a month and calculated how many months it would take me to save up for the move.
It was January when I started planning and it looked like going to take about 6 months to save, so my move-in goal was June. I had a free week in April to visit the city and look at apartments, but I knew it would be too early to sign a lease if I wanted to move in June. My boyfriend and I decided he would move out there in May and I would come out a month later. That way I could continue to work and save while he looked for a job in the city. We spent a month and a half before our visit researching available apartments and scheduling viewings. We also spent that time collecting all of our necessary paperwork to rent (bank history, guarantor info, etc.).
When we got to the city, we looked at 3-4 apartments and signed a lease before we flew back home. We had less than a month before my boyfriend would move in and we spent that time researching how to set up utilities and renting a moving truck. My boyfriend moved our pets and our belongings up in May. I stayed behind for another month and continued to work, and my last paycheck covered us for a second month of rent. By the time I moved out to the city, my boyfriend had secured a job and financially supported us while I looked for work.
I think budgeting thoroughly and realistically is the most important thing to do when you're moving. There are always going to be unexpected costs and they can cause some real setbacks. If you're moving with another person, communication is really important. Both people should know the general plan. It's also important that the labor of the move is divied up and that both people are pulling their weight in what needs to get done.
What did you use to help plan your route? Did you fly, drive, or otherwise teleport to your new location?
My boyfriend is the one that drove the moving truck on his own from TX to NY I think he just used Google Maps to plan out the route. Our cat and dog were also in the truck with him, so he decided he would do the trip over the course of a few days so they wouldn't get stir crazy. He looked up some pet-friendly hotels each third of the way and made reservations before he set out on the road.
Do you have any packing tips and tricks for us?
I got rid of as much stuff as possible. Vacuum-sealed bags help a lot with saving space. Sometimes it's impractical to keep things sorted by room, so I just try to label the outside of the box with what's inside of it. I always start by setting aside what I'll need while I'm moving (wallet/ID, clothes, toiletries, etc.) and just packing it into a travel bag so it doesn't accidentally get packed away. I also really like to start packing a good month before I move. It's a little excessive, but then I don't feel as overwhelmed as the date gets closer.
What sort of challenges did you face trying to save or come up with the budget needed?
We encountered a broker's fee for our apartment, which set us back about $3000 more than we had initially budgeted for. I will never rent a place with a broker's fee again, but we were in a bind and didn't have a choice.
We had pets, no jobs in NY yet, and both of our guarantors did not live in NY. It was a huge, unexpected expense, but we luckily we had made a very detailed budget, so it made it easy for us to decide where to cut things and how to move our money around. Luckily, I still had about 2 months of work before I had to move, so we had some financial flexibility. I borrowed some money from my brother to cover the fee upfront, and was still able to pay him back before I moved.
What would you -not- recommend cutting costs on when considering a move?
I would not skimp on the move itself. My boyfriend could have driven for a day and a half straight to NY, but he decided to do it over the course of 3 days instead. It's really dangerous to drive a big vehicle you're not used to, and it's very stressful. I think giving yourself time and peace of mind is important.
What were some advantages/disadvantages to working within your time or budget limits?
I feel really lucky, because I felt like I had just the right amount of time to plan and save for the move. I worked a high-paying job I didn't particularly care for during 6 months to save up and pay for my trip. It was just long enough to effectively plan and save for the move and short enough that I wasn't completely miserable. I think not liking my job really motivated me to stick to my moving schedule and deadline. I do regret not putting more money into savings. Pretty much all of the money I made went to my moving budget. I should've planned more for the long-term and not just the move. Again, the luxury of being able to do the move over a few days instead of as quickly as possible was really helpful.
How did you mentally prepare for the move?
I obsessively researched every aspect of the move. I made spreadsheets and lists and calendars for everything. It was excessive and ridiculous, but it helped me feel like I was in control of what was a seemingly daunting, overwhelming thing. My boyfriend is the exact opposite, and I think our combined approaches were really helpful.
Since he moved to the city a month earlier, he encountered a lot of things that didn't go according to our plan. I had budgeted very meticulously, so if he had to make a decision on the fly, it was easy because he could consult my budget/notes to make an informed decision.
What is something you absolutely couldn’t live without in the new area/place? Your hard line of "I'm not moving unless..." moment.
My dog and cat were definitely a hard line. I would not consider moving without them. For a long time, I thought it was impossible to move to New York with my pets. I read so many articles either advising against it or citing insane costs. It really freaked me out, and I got really dejected.
Then, I actually started researching apartments and a huge number of places were fine with pets and had reasonable pet deposits. The apartment I ended up in doesn't even have a pet fee.
Did you ever find yourself at a low point and feeling like giving up or saying no the opportunity? Were there any times that people tried to talk you out of it or alternately were they supportive and helped you stay focused/encouraged?
In the 6 months before we moved, my boyfriend and I were living in separate cities. I was working in San Francisco, and he was still living in Texas. It was hard to be apart. I felt like I was bearing most of the burden when it came to planning the move, and he was stressed out about not being able to contribute as much financially.
Resentment built up, and we were not in a good place. We briefly talked about breaking up, which would mean neither of us would be able to move. I was living with my parents in SF, and they suggested I move to the Bay Area instead of NY. They weren't trying to push me or discourage me from moving to New York, but when they suggested that, I just knew that is not what I wanted.
I felt really upset because I kept telling myself that the only way I would be able to move to New York is if I moved with my boyfriend. Then I decided I would make a plan to move to NY without him to see what it would look like. I found it would take some more time, but it was in fact do-able. I think it was really important that I did that because I didn't want to feel like I was only staying with him because I was dependent on him for the move.
Luckily, I never had to fall back on that plan and my boyfriend and I worked through our issues. We realized that we weren't communicating effectively and we weren't working as a team on the move. We started delegating tasks and responsibilities regarding the planning and it helped a lot.
I coordinated our travel plans for going out to look at apartments and he contacted leasing offices about apartment viewings. I set up all of our utilities and he researched moving trucks. I stayed behind and worked for an extra month to pay next month's rent while he looked for a job so he could cover the full rent the month that I moved in.
How does managing all this have an effect on your sleeping, physical health, and your mental health, do you think?
I don't think it really affected my sleep or physical health, but I did feel depressed early on in the planning. It put a lot of strain on my relationship with my boyfriend until we eventually worked through it. Luckily, I was near my parents and my brother and I sought a lot of advice and support from them when I was feeling low. They really made me feel like I had autonomy in the situation. My mom suggested I make a plan to move alone and that felt empowering.
Journaling really helped a lot, too. I was really upset about the growing distance between me and Josh during the beginning of the planning stage and a lot of my thoughts were irrational and tainted by stress and emotion. I knew some of what I was thinking was heavily affected by this and didn't want to share it with anyone else. It felt good to get it out on paper, so it wasn't bottled up inside of me.
How do you know the difference between moving worries that can be researched or worked through or a generally bad decision/bad outcome risk? Can you even know that difference?
I just knew that there were more work opportunities in New York, so moving there to advance my career was a no-brainer. At the time, moving there with my boyfriend seemed like the bigger risk. We were on rocky terms and were living far away from each other. Neither of us were sure if it was going to work out. Again, making a rough plan to move NY alone really enabled me to look at my relationship with him for what it was instead of conflating our relationship with my ability to move. Our decision to stay together felt solid and secure because I made it outside of the context of moving.
THE MOVE ITSELF
This is a sad memory, but it plays into a more lighthearted one later. I mentioned that we have a dog and a cat. We actually had two cats and a dog. One of the cats passed away suddenly due to undiagnosed health issues right after my boyfriend moved to New York. I was still working in San Francisco when it happened, and he had to put our cat down by himself. It was really traumatic, and we were both very upset.
I moved in about a month later in mid-June. I flew into New York at night, but it was still extremely hot. I had ordered an AC unit, but it wasn't scheduled to arrive until the next day. When I got to our new apartment, my boyfriend had all of the windows open, but it was sweltering hot inside.
We kept wetting our heads in cold water from the shower, but we were still sweating a ton. We hadn't seen each other in over a month, so we were making gin and tonics to celebrate finally moving to NY. We inadvertently drank an entire bottle of gin and got very drunk. We started talking about our cat that passed away, and we both got really upset and started crying. It was more like uncontrollable sobbing so it lasted a long time.
We ended up falling asleep on the couch and woke up to our intercom buzzer going off. The AC unit had arrived. We were super hungover, and the crying and sweating the night before had not helped. We drowsily signed for the package and then just sat on the couch staring at the box. I told my boyfriend it was imperative we install it immediately.
We started opening up the package and tried to read the instructions, but we were moving super slowly and it hurt to think. After getting through a third of the instructions, my boyfriend sat down and said he couldn't do it. I had to spend 15 minutes hyping him up and convincing him to help me finish installing it.
After we set it up and turned it on, we just sat on the floor for an hour trying to feel normal again. We were so pathetic, but looking back in hindsight, we laugh every time we talk about all of it.
AFTER THE MOVE
How long did it take to settle into your new place in your new area? In new job duties?
It took about 6 months to feel really settled and comfortable in my apartment. My place in Austin was a lot bigger, so it took a little while to make the best use of space in my NY apartment (especially since it didn't have any closets).
We didn't move any furniture with us and just bought new stuff. That made the move a lot easier, because we could buy furniture that easily fit in the apartment. We also found a lot of great stuff on the street.
I spent the first 3 months in NY freelancing in production, but I just didn't have enough of a network and had to take a job as a substitute teacher for a few months. I felt really frustrated because I felt like I was moving backwards. I moved to NY to get into the film industry and instead I was doing something I had no interest in. In hindsight, working as a teacher gave me stability while I was getting used to living in a new place. I would do production gigs on the weekends and interned on a feature documentary on my day off (the school I worked at was only Mon-Thurs). I was able to slowly build up my network in the industry and finally quit teaching after 4 months. Once I got back into freelancing, it was a lot easier because I felt more at ease in the city and knew a lot more people.
What's your unpacking and getting situated process like?
It was definitely a slow process. We immediately put together all of our furniture and unpacked a few essentials, but it took us a about two months to unpack all of our boxes. We didn't even have that much stuff.
We moved our furniture around a lot in the beginning, trying to find the best configuration for our apartment. I think it just made sense to wait to unpack everything when we felt 100% happy with where all of our furniture was.
Did you feel homesick ever or miss your old town? If so, how do you deal with those feels?
I miss a lot about Austin. It was cheap, had a lot of great nature, and I made a lot of close friends there. I can't do much about the cost of living or lack of nature in NY, but I do enjoy looking for free events and exploring the city. I try to keep up with my friends back in Austin as much as I can and luckily a few friends have already come out to visit.
If you arrived 'hot' to town without a job, how did you manage to find work? -OR- If you came to your new area with a job in tow, how did that go?
I came to New York without a job. I had saved up some money to live off of in the interim and my boyfriend had found a job, so we were okay for a little bit financially. I reached out to some people that I went to film school with that had relocated to NY, and one of them had their own production company. She hooked me up with two AD gigs within the first month of moving there. It was really stressful work and I felt in over my head, but I met some people who were able to refer me to other jobs as a PA. I had to get a teaching job for a few months to pay the bills. I enjoyed the stability, but hated the work. I worked as an intern on a documentary one day a week and did production gigs on the weekend to stay in the film loop.
After a few months of teaching, I was so sick of it that I just quit. I had been offered a 4-day PA gig, and I prayed I could find more work after that. I didn't have any money saved up when I quit the teaching job, but I knew I had to just dive in and give freelancing a shot or else I'd lose my mind. Luckily, I was able to find semi-steady PA work and was able to get a job working remotely for a design company on the side. However, I still wasn’t making a ton of money, and Josh covered a lot of our living expenses while I was making the transition into freelancing. He was super supportive, and I would not have been able to make that career change without him.
In May, I enrolled in the Made in New York Post Production Training Program and they helped me find some really great job opportunities. The program helped me get a Logger position with the Food Network, and most recently, a Post Coordinator job with A24. I've discovered a lot of great networking groups for post production, and I feel like I know a lot more people that can help me find work in the future. I still can't believe how much I was able to turn my career around in a year, and I am so glad I decided to move to NY.
What opportunities do you have available to you now (either that you didn't have before or have more of now) Do you find you have more or less work opportunities?
I had a very hard time finding film work when I lived in Austin. I thought it would take a really long time for me to find work opportunities when I moved to New York, but I found work the first week I arrived and it ramped up from there. I had to take a job as a teacher to pay the bills for a few months, but I quit in February and have been making it as a freelancer ever since.
I was eligible for a free post production training program funded by the city called Made In New York. The program helps with job placement, and I just landed a job with A24 through them. I feel like I am finally on the right career path and that I can actually do what I love and get paid for it. I feel very confident about being able to move to another state again, but if I were to move again, I would feel less confident about being able to find work opportunities. It's hard to compete with NY.
How has moving changed your life, for better or worse or in-between/uncertain? Do you have one last bit of advice to someone facing a move?
Moving has significantly improved my life. Josh and I were able to rebuild our relationship into something stronger than it was before, and I love our new life together. Josh just went back to school and also feels more fulfilled than ever. This is the first apartment that I've lived in that feels like it belongs to an adult and not a college kid. We put a lot of work into making it feel like home, and it really feels like ours. I've also never been more broke in my life, but that really pales in comparison to all of the amazing opportunities and experiences I've had here so far.