You’ve reached another milestone in your life. Whether you are moving to a new city togo to college for the first time or are moving for a new job, moving to a new city is both stressful and invigorating. You have boxes to tape, you’re not sure if you want to take your one-eyed teddy bear with you, and your mom won’t stop calling you to make sure you pick up a first-aid kit and a flashlight, and your boyfriend is driving you nuts because he is pretty sure you are going to dump him for some city guy.
How can you move to a new city safely and minimize your stress? First thing, make sure you have the personality type that can handle being in a new city alone. The reality is you are no longer going to have your support system. Everything is new and there is a steep learning curve. Navigating a new city is both rewarding and terrifying. You will get lost again and again. DON’T PANIC. Be prepared to rebuild from the ground up, and that includes your knowledge base about where to eat for lunch. If you were the kid who cried at summer camp and was homesick all through freshmen year, staying close to home might be the best idea for you.
However, if you are adventurous and have always wanted to get out of your small town and move to New York City or downtown LA, then get excited, you’re moving to the big city! My first tip is stop feeling nervous about moving and be happy. You are about to walk through a doorway that will expand your horizons. Don’t worry about leaving your friends and family behind, you will make new friends, and you can always visit your nearest and dearest on the holidays, so have no guilt about optimizing your life.
Research the city you are moving to. Read online articles and watch YouTube videos about the location you are relocating to. If possible, visit the city before you move there. Trust me, New York is fantastically cool, but it’s a tough city to start in if you are a naïve kid from Ohio. If you cannot fund this trip, consider taking a bus instead of a plane, and you could always use Couch Surfing or stay at a hostel.
If you can’t make it to the city before you move there, call the locals. There is surely some thread online where you can chat with people about the cities they live in. Also, call apartment complexes and landlords. Ask as many questions as you want about the safety of the neighborhood and if plumbing is a problem. My very first apartment in Phoenix had the hot water shut off all the time. It’s was annoying.
Being financially prepared will smooth out your transition and ensure your survival. Sometimes we move before we are financially prepared, and some of us can land on our feet with only enough hotel money for a week, but most of us can’t and end up struggling, so don’t be a vagabond. Vagabond is just a cool word for a homeless person.
Never move to a new city with less than 6 months’ rent. The reason for this is having a job is no guarantee you will keep your job. You could spill coffee on your boss’s lap or just be entirely too nervous to come off professionally, or walk in an hour late because you got lost using the bus system. Don’t beat yourself up if you lose a job. You are still learning.
Navigation Tip: take your route to work the day before to make sure you can find your way easily and leave two hours early on your first day. Hang out at the coffee shop by your fortune 500 company to make sure you are on time.
Now there are a number of online sites you can use to find your new apartment. Just type in apartment finder in Google, and Zillow and a bunch of sites will pop up. Craigslist is a good site to find cheap rooms. You actually might want to see if you can rent a cheap room for a week or two while you look for an apartment in the city. Trust me, the prices online are usually the most expensive places. Every city has cheap digs, but you usually have to be a local to know them and already live in the city to find them. Remember, you get what you pay for, so if you can afford a nice place, go ahead and get one. If you are on a budget and your apartment is a hole in the wall, remember it’s temporary and we all start somewhere. No matter what your place looks like, be proud of yourself. You did something most people are too afraid to do, you moved to a new city. Congratulations!
Tip 1: Don’t walk alone at night.
Tip 2: Never get drunk in public with a new friend or by yourself.
Tip 3: Make sure you always carry enough money for a taxi back home in case you get lost.
Tip 4: Be frugal with your money. Don’t go crazy trying every restaurant in the city.