Moving is a fun, exciting and sometimes pain in the ass adventure. My first big move was from South Carolina to New York City, and eventually, I decided California was calling my name.
I hated the goodbyes, the packing and paying for the U-Haul, but I loved having a new city to explore and the revitalized energy I felt.
There are tons of resources out there to help you with the move itself, but what about afterwards? Once you’ve actually finished moving, all the boxes are unpacked and you’ve settled out of the “I can’t believe I made it!” phase? Here’s what no one tells you when you move somewhere new:
1. Being alone and being lonely are two different things; you’re going to be both of them.
Think of the number of people in your new city. Now think of the number you meet and actually like compared to the number that thinks you’re cool, wants to hang out and has a schedule that aligns with yours. That second number is going to be considerably smaller than the first.
I’m not trying to depress you or deter you from moving somewhere. What I’m trying to say is you’re going to spend more nights than you’d care to eating leftovers in bed and watching reality television on Netflix.
You’re going to have to be okay with that.
It really is okay; you can’t go out every night of the week expecting to make meaningful connections with people. At a certain point, you have to be comfortable with yourself. Doing things alone, whether it’s something small at home or going out, is actually incredibly valuable.
I’ve never had too many issues with keeping myself occupied in my own space, but I was beyond fearful of going out alone. I lived in a perfectly safe area, so it’s not that it was dangerous.
I was just so worried about being alone in public. The first time I went to a bar solo, it felt strange, but after a few times it helped me grow into my own skin. Instead of being alone, I can just be.
2. Making friends is so much harder than it was in college that it feels nearly impossible.
You truly don’t realize how good you’ve got it until it’s too late. In college, you have clubs, the dorms, the cafeteria, events with free food and socials. It’s damn near impossible to avoid people, and everyone is receptive and open to meeting new friends.
That’s just not the case day-to-day in real life. If you want to meet people and make friends, you have put in effort. While it is important to have your alone time and nights in, you certainly aren’t going to meet people sitting on your ass re-watching “The OC.”
Trying things like Meetup.com, reaching out to friends of friends (of friends) and attending fun events solo will certainly increase your chances of meeting cool people you can jive with.
The best way to meet people is organically, over time. I met my best friend on Craigslist because she responded to a room-for-rent ad I’d posted, and she’s one of the coolest people I know.
It seriously sucks to play the waiting game and be alone (see number 1), but some of the best friends you’ll make may be the ones you don’t go out searching for. They’re the ones that just happen to you.
3. At least one of those randoms you go on a date with or hook up with will eventually cross paths with you again.
I recently attended a house party and ran into a guy I had hooked up with over a year before. We went on approximately one and a half dates and I made sure to let things fizzle out as quickly as possible. It happens.
Still, at this party, he insisted on making uncomfortable small talk when I arrived, and I avoided eye contact and placed myself at the opposite end of the room for most of the night, nervously eating hummus and chips.
Going out, meeting people and having sexy time is great, especially when you’re new in town. Of course, there’s always a chance anywhere that you’ll run into an old one-night stand or some dude or lady you went out with, like, that one time.
But when you move, know that it is no longer a chance; it will definitely happen one day, and yes, it will be awkward.
4. You’ll have at least one crazy roommate experience.
My last roommate locked herself in her room, would only communicate through passive aggressive notes left around the house and would express resentment when the other roommates and I would hang out.
I lived there in denial for months, wanting things to magically work out, but I sacrificed some of my own happiness, which, looking back, wasn’t worth it.
Resign yourself to the fact that you will likely end up living with someone that’s not a great fit for you. The sooner you can accept that, the sooner you’ll notice the problems and the sooner you’ll look for a different (and hopefully better) living situation.
Not everyone is meant to get along and live under the same roof harmoniously; great roommates are incredibly difficult to find. Instead of signing a year lease with some perfectly nice stranger off of Craigslist, find a place that allows a month-to-month lease.
This allows you the freedom to explore different neighborhoods in your new city without potentially facing a year of misery.
5. You will doubt yourself.
Once you’ve put everything away in your room and arranged all your furniture, one night, you’ll plop down on your bed and have an “oh sh*t” moment. For me, this is usually a week after a big change in location. It’s like the reality of the situation finally becomes clearer, and honestly, it’s pretty frightening.
You are going to do everything in your power to convince yourself that moving was a terrible idea. You’ll think of all your friends back at your old home, you’ll Skype with your former roommates, you’ll look at everyone’s perfect lives on Facebook and you’ll feel like you just royally effed up.
Here you are, in this new place, with all of your belongings in tow, yet you’ll feel like you don’t have a single thing in the world.
When I’m feeling really bare and vulnerable after taking a big risk, I think about something my sister told me. When she found out I was moving away from New York, she was sad because we lived two hours apart at the time and could visit each other every month.
But she looked at me admirably and said,
You’re writing a really amazing life story.
Moving is not easy; adjusting to a new city can be difficult and painful. However, it’s also a chance to build your own life and make it even better than it was before. It’s not going to happen immediately, but just know that the journey itself is actually quite wonderful.