Moving to a new city is one of the hardest but most fulfilling things that anyone ever does. Yet, it’s also common, almost part of American identity.
Alexis de Tocqueville, after visiting America, wrote:
“A man will settle in one place only to go off elsewhere shortly afterward with a new set of desires…. And, if toward the end of a year of unremitting work he has some time to spare, he will trail his restless curiosity up and down the endless territories of the United States… At first, there is astonishment at the sight of this peculiar restlessness in so many happy men in the midst of abundance. Yet this is a sight as old as the world; what is new is to see a whole nation involved.”
In short, we love to move, try new things, and see new places. That doesn’t make moving to a new city any less difficult or challenging. Here are a few tips to make moving to a new city more simple before during and after.
Before Moving to a New City
Moving to a new city is not an off the cuff decision. You spent a lot of time doing some research, weighing your options, and consulting with friends.
After deciding to move, you should approach leaving your old city with the same mindfulness.
Make a Bucket List for Your Old City
Don’t be too quick to disregard the place you’re leaving. The city housed a lot of memories, good and bad, that you want to put into the right perspective.
One way you can make sure you leave on a good foot is to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do in a city. In other words, create a bucket list to do before you move.
For example, you could go to that restaurant you never tried. Or you could attend a professional sporting event or concert that your city is famous for.
Your bucket list could also focus on doing things again. What were your favorite things about the city? Spend a week retracing your steps and reliving the best memories.
Establish the Nature of Your Relationships
In the digital era, it’s easy to move to a city or even a new job and assume that you’ll stay connected to people on Facebook or Instagram. However, we all know these aren’t great ways to actually maintain a relationship.
If you take time to think through which relationships you want to keep, it will help you move on easier. You may not want to stay in touch with everyone. In that case, acknowledge to yourself that you’re okay cutting ties. You may even want to cut those ties on social media.
On the other hand, speak to those you do want to keep a relationship with and tell them how you feel. You can find ways to stay in touch that works for you.
This goes for family as well. Before I left to live overseas for two years, I spent a day with each of my siblings doing something fun. It helped me have a good memory with them before taking off. It also set the tone for our relationship while I was gone.
Take Care of the Boring Stuff
You’ll thank yourself later if you take care of the little things before you move. Forward your mailing address, figure out where to send your prescriptions, update your address with different government institutions, and cancel your gym membership.
During the Move
Packing and cleaning your home before a move is literally the worst. It’s time-consuming, difficult to stay organized, and always takes longer than you expect.
There are a few things you can do to make the actual move less painful.
Follow a System
There are plenty of packing checklists you could follow, but all of them have one thing in common: make a system and stick to it. Whether that means you pack room by room or start however many weeks early, just do it.
Moving is also a great time to throw out stuff you don’t need. Imagine moving into a new place without all your junk. Sounds refreshing. You can hold a yard sale or donate to thrift stores. Just don’t expect people to buy or want especially worn out stuff.
Make it Easy for Your Friends
Unless your company is moving you, you’ll likely be relying on friends, family, or coworkers to help you move. Don’t abuse this relationship. Have you ever been told a move would take 3 hours and you ended up blowing your whole day helping out?
If you’re already boxed up before asking friends to help, your move will go much quicker. All that’s left to do is put stuff in the truck and take it out at your new place. Your friends will be much happier if they don’t waste a day packing up your junk. You’ll leave on a good note.
Storage can also help you make moving to a new city more simple. Especially if you’ll be between permanent housing for a while, storage can help you keep things close and safe without requiring you to deal immediately with unpacking.
Storage will also help you pull things out only when you need it. I’ll suggest you unpack quickly in the “After Moving” section, but this can also be helped with storage. You may find you don’t actually need everything right away.
After Moving to a New City
Now that you’re in a new place, there are a few ways to get more situated. A common theme of moving the right way is to always be purposeful. You were purposeful about deciding to move, and if you’ve done things right, you were purposeful about saying goodbye and organizing your move. You should bring the same attention to getting settled after moving to a new city.
Don’t live out of a box or a suitcase. It works for about a week, and then the first time you have to do laundry, the whole system falls apart.
When you move to a new place, you’ll want a fresh start. Unpack, set up your space, and really move in. Living out of boxes makes it feel like you’re still in the moving process.
The sooner you’re set up, the sooner you can have people over, relax, and situate yourself to your space.
Find Your Spot
In your old city, did you have a restaurant, park, or store where you felt most comfortable? If you did, then chances are you’ll be the same way in your new city. Try to find that spot as soon as possible. It’s easier to identify with a city when you’re emotionally invested in it.
Your spot may not be a physical thing but a community. You could find a home in your new city in a political group, church, or interest group. You can find new groups at https://www.meetup.com.
Set Up Your Exterior Life
After moving to a new city, you’ll realize how many systems and processes you used to have set up. You knew where the hospital was and who your doctor is. You didn’t have to use Google Maps every time you went to a grocery store. Things like car registration seemed to magically happen in the course of everyday life.
This won’t be this case in your new city, at least not initially. When you move in, take the time to take care of the exterior parts of your life. Register your car if you’ve moved to a new state. Find your grocery store and doctors office. You want to avoid running into an emergency and being left without the resources to help yourself.