A GUIDE TO SURVIVE: Moving to a New City
(This article originally appeared on the VINA blog.)
There are few things more terrifying, exhilarating, and life shaping than moving to a new city. Your location can define and outline entire chapters of your life. It becomes the canvas in which you paint the newest version of you. It is hard, but it is the kind of hard in which you grow. It is one of those shoved out of the nest and learn to fly kind of times.
I have moved enough times to know a thing or two about acclimation and hibernation. They tend to go hand in hand. There is an inclination to hunker down inside your apartment and wait out this awkward phase. But guess what. It won’t work. The only way through it, is through it. So lace up those walking shoes and open that front door. There is a new you just dying to meet you around the corner.
Here is a list of sure fire ways to kickstart and comfort-ize your readjustment period:
1. LEAVE THE HOUSE
This is rule number one. Half the time it doesn’t even matter where you go, but you’re not going to get your sea legs if you don’t start walking, biking, mass transit, or Ubering to a new location. Get over the idea that going somewhere alone is scary. It’s actually awesome and makes you look and feel like the boss that you truly are. A trick is to always bring a book with you because they act as a security blanket and make being alone in a new public place feel far more intentional than it might actually be.
Places to go and why:
- A coffee shop. This is my go to solution. Plus, you can get some work done. Be sure to shut the laptop every hour or so and make yourself available for conversation. Don’t be afraid to invite someone to sit with you who wanders in. And introduce yourself to those behind the counter, chances are they live nearby.
- The bar. A night time version of a coffee shop. This is another great choice. One because I love a well made cocktail and two because people are friendly and sociable over a pint. Be sure you sit at the bar, it’s an open invitation to meet people, and at the very least the bartender will chat you up, and hey, maybe he’s cute. And for any unwanted company, the book is always there to save you.
- Somewhere artsy. If you’re living in a bigger city this will be easy for you, a smaller one you might have to do some digging or find a botanical garden. This is the greatest way to meet people but it is a great reason to get dressed, leave the house, and get your bearings.
2. MAKE A REAL HOME
While I encourage you to leave the house, it is also equally important to have a home to come back to. This is one of the first things I do when I move. In fact I even pack a specific box of things and label it Home. In there are the things that make my space mine. It’s funny and strange the things that go in this box. Mine looks like: my records and record player, special photographs, a couple pieces of art, my french press, and a few of my favorite books. I take these things out, and poof, my space starts to become my new home.
A few other ways to home-ify your new place:
- Candles, there is something undeniably homey about a lit candle
- A soft blanket, because being cozy is the ultimate
- Fresh flowers. My grandmother told me this. She said, “even if you can’t afford anything else, buy yourself some flowers.”
- A bowl of lemons. I don’t know why this works but it does. It’s the color and the freshness of lemons and they make you feel like, hey world, I’m doing things!
3. TAKE A SHOWER. GET DRESSED. COMB YOUR HAIR. PUT ON REAL CLOTHING.
This seems arbitrary, but I am a firm believer in looking the idea that looking your best will help you feel your best. There is some kind of magic in putting it all together properly. Even if it’s just you, working from home, and it isn’t a get out of the house kind of day. In these first few weeks make yourself pull it together, even if it is just for your cat.
4. TREAT YOURSELF
Allow yourself a gift. I do this right at the start of my move and it works like a super power. Buy yourself something that might seem unnecessary, because I am telling you, it is necessary. Get a yoga membership to the nice spot, or buy a plushy new blanket for your bed, a beautiful rug for the living room, a house plant. It doesn’t matter if you wear it, do it, or eat it. This this will serve as a reminder and a congratulation to the massive leap forward you just took in life.
5. MEET NEW PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET
The best way to feel at home anywhere in the world is to find some familiar faces. You’d be surprised by how many of your old friends have friends in other places be it from their hometown, college, or other walks of life, and it’s easy to find them using the internet. Now that it’s not awkward to do that, head to the App Store to download some apps.
Find some new girl friends to scope out those bars and coffee shops with on Hey! VINA, or hit up a dating app like Tinder, Hinge, or The League to find some romance. The most important thing is that you’re getting out there and making some new connections. You might not click with everyone right away, but trust me, you’re laying the foundations of a community.
5. ENJOY IT
This is something that may not always feel easy. But know that in a few months, this awkward phase will pass and nothing will be so fresh and new. You will learn the street names and the barista. You will make friends and you will familiarize yourself to your new surroundings. So, enjoy this little incubation period where you are raw and exposed to the world. Notice everything new about the place, be in wonder of the new smells and sounds, and the way the air feels. Because pretty soon it will all be as it is, and you will no longer be the new girl in town.