4 Lessons I Learned After Relocating for My Career
My reflection on my journey moving from my hometown
It happened in a flash. I flew to Seattle for a July 4th vacation, coordinated multiple interviews, and received a phone call when I arrived home with a verbal offer for a dream job. Just like that, I’d be moving in a month.
Fast forward two years later, I’ve reflected on the four lessons I’ve learned after relocating for my career.
- The homesickness settles in, but later than expected
“Do you miss your friends? Do you miss your family? Do you miss California?”
Common questions I kept hearing but kept oddly saying no. I had too much on my mind, from registering my car, receiving my new driver’s license, settling into my apartment, and learning my new job.
But as I acquired the basics of a move, the homesickness settled in. Social media doesn’t help with this as I witnessed the milestones that I am bound to miss. Events that would have been a must-do turn into a phone call or text. The birthdays, white coat ceremonies, and graduations transition to virtual congratulations.
Unless you’re moving to be closer to family, this is difficult to replace. Facetime and phone calls become more common. Flights home for the holidays, albeit expensive, are more special. And of course, my parents welcomed me with my favourite foods each time I arrive home for the holidays.
2. What a difference the trivial weather makes
Before my move to the Greater Seattle area, all my fellow Californians warned me to prepare myself for the daily rain. After a few months of living here, I concluded that contrary to popular belief, no, it does not rain in Seattle every day. My coworkers confirmed this is simply a myth that locals encourage to spread so transplants stop moving here.
Regardless, preparing yourself for the weather change is vital. I chuckled when the defrost function on my car finally had a purpose. And I was in for a rude awakening when I stepped outside of my apartment and a snowstorm greeted me. I immediately texted my manager how I was unsure if I was able to make it into the office. He responded yeah, nobody can. Okay, so a snowstorm everyone knew about, but me. Lesson learned: check the weather and bring my laptop home.
Ice was also a new phenomenon. As I walked to my car unprepared for the slippery surface, threw my bag in the air, and faceplanted. Salt can do the trick, but not table salt as I found out foolishly when handing a colleague who asked if we had salt to de-ice the steps.
3. The new restaurant scene is an exciting treasure hunt
Discovering the new must go to’s turns into a favorite pastime. For the first few months, I’d prioritize trying multiple new restaurants or bars every weekend. Weekly Sunday brunches and the acclaimed Pike Place Market turns into a weekly venture, a sign that the trek is still exciting. Most locals are hesitant to step one foot inside the busy downtown traffic and the hours of looping around for a parking spot.
4. Developing new friendships is difficult, and comparing them to your friends at home is inevitable
Making friends after college is a much harder challenge than making friends on your college campus. The majority of my new friends came from introductions from mutual friends and those at work. And rightfully so, as the full-time grind and hours of overtime are scheduling nightmares. The focus shifts you are now relocating is to advance your professional career.
I kept finding myself in this negative cycle of comparing new friends to my old friends back home. But I learned that it’s okay. It’s simply inevitable. Some friends are irreplaceable and my true friends are the ones that are proud of my progress and happiness, and the ones ready to pick me up the minute I land at the airport back home. And I am grateful for the life-long friendships that I developed in Seattle.
Initiating the move after over two decades in the same city was risky. But relocating offers a new perspective. The “cold and scary” weather transitions to just a manageable one, although I do have my favorite months here. I encourage everyone to relocate at least once in their life to expand their network, widen their perspectives, and avoid the easy comfort zone.