10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving Across the Country By Myself

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving Across the Country By Myself

When I was a young lad 21 I moved from my small town in North Carolina to San Francisco.  Alone. Moving to the west coast, or even someplace alone, was not in my plans. An incredible job opportunity came my way two months after graduation and I took the jump.

Packing two suitcases and zipping up all of my fears, I picked up and brought my entire life to a new place. There were times where it was really fun (not being able to run into an ex?! Yes please...) and times where I’ve never felt more alone (cue watching Friends rerun every Saturday night).

Most importantly, there were so many things I never knew about moving across the country that would have helped me so much. I made my fair share of mistakes, including – but not limited to – living in a flea-ridden apartment with a drug dealer and making guy friends before I focused on what I really needed in my life… great girls.

Now six years later, I’ve found my rhythm. But it’s taken until recently to really get there. Moving someplace new was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I felt challenged and empowered while gaining a new sense of confidence and self-assurance I didn’t know was possible.  


10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving Across the Country By Myself

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1. Do Your Research 

Do yourself a favor. Read up on your new city before making the jump. Research beyond the tourist articles and try and find honest reactions of the city.

I let myself move to a neighborhood that was not safe when I first moved to SF. Assuming every city was like NYC, where every neighborhood was constantly crowded and felt pretty safe, I quickly learned I was so wrong.

Read the honest articles and talk to whoever you can before moving. Get educated about the reality of your new city.

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2. Get Ready To Figure Things Out On Your Own

In the past, you’re used to having someone to help you on every turn. You knew someone who could help you put together your IKEA furniture AND bring over a bottle of wine.

Get ready to take your independence to another level. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, will be new. You will need to be able to navigate a new public transportation system while figuring out what your closest grocery story will be.

When I moved to SF, I thought I’d have a family member who lived out here helping me navigate. Instead, I found myself dropped off on the street outside my first apartment with boxes of unassembled furniture.

I wish I had known that my independence would be challenged. My level of confidence in just ‘figuring it out’ by myself would need to be omnipresent.

When you are in the moment without a choice you just do it. You figure it out. You’ve got this.

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3. Be REALLY Social

Don’t focus on the cute guy hitting on you in your first social outing. Focus on the girls who will be there to watch The Bachelor and give you a hug if you are ever feeling lonely.

It took me years to find solid girlfriends in San Francisco. Years.

4. If You Find Someone You Like, Don’t Be Awkward

For me, finding solid friends in SF was so SO hard. It took me really being proactive and asking friends on “friend dates” as I like to call them when I met someone I really connected with.

I was blessed with a solid group of girlfriends back home so the idea of even having to make solid friends seemed so foreign to me. I just thought they would appear, because they’ve been by my side since I was 9 in North Carolina.

If you find someone you like, make it clear you want to be friends with them Likely they will be receptive and want to be friends with you too.

The more “friend dates” I went on, the more people I knew. The more people I knew, the more plans I got invited to. I tried to go to as many group events as I could. Sure, the first people I met weren’t necessarily becoming my best friends. I often met people at parties or group outings that I ended up clicking with, too!


RELATED READ: The Ultimate Guide to Making Friends as a Twenty-Something


5. Don’t Feel Pressured To Have Everything Figured Out RIGHT Away

It’s not necessary to sign a lease in your first 6-months if you can sublet. Let yourself get to know the city and make some friends before you jump in. Get comfortable with things not being 150% perfect at first and enjoy getting to experience new things.

My first apartment in SF was a mess. As mentioned above, from drugs to fleas, it was a less than perfect situation. Thank goodness I didn’t sign a lease, but I did feel pressure to live in a less than perfect situation in hopes of just having it figured all out.

Patience is key. Learn the city and learn the parts you love. Move to a place that will make you happy, instead of causing stress.

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6. You Will Be Alone But You Don’t Have To Be Lonely

The reality of moving someplace new is that yes, you will be alone. In fact, you’ll probably be alone all of the time at first. However, I truly believe that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Relish the time you get to hang out with yourself and choose that as a present, rather than a burden. Don’t label your alone time as lonely.

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7. Find A Constant

You may have already read my post about adult-extracurriculars, but I cannot reiterate the importance of a constant when you move someplace new. Find something you love that you can look forward to every day.

This constant will be your everything. Something to look forward to and a community you can always be a part of.

This for me became teaching spin at a local studio. I started 3-4 years into my SF life, in hindsight, I wish I had done it sooner.



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8. Drifting is a Reality

Even though your best friends promised to text every day, drifting is a reality. It was cute that I thought that even with social media, nothing would change. You started a new life and everyone was still together back at home. It makes sense that memories would happen without you. Just as you’ll make memories without them.

Embrace that there will be a change in your relationships. Call your best friends and don’t let anything change.

One of the most cherished parts of my friendships is that we kept in touch (with no pressure) after college and it truly feels like nothing has changed when we are together. I love learning about their lives, just as they like learning about mine.

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9. It’s Expensive, But Worth It

Moving is not cheap. Anyone who says they will do it affordably probably will, but accept that it will put a hole in your wallet. Budget yourself and don’t be hard on yourself for spending, it’s a reality. Make sure you have the means before you make the move. Don’t put additional stress on yourself by having to barely live paycheck to paycheck. It’s not worth it.

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10. You Will Gain A Sense of Independence That Otherwise Seemed Impossible

There were parts of moving that frankly, sucked. Yet, in return, I gained a sense of independence, self-awareness, and responsibility that I didn’t know was possible. I found myself and was able to support myself. I allowed myself to find the happiness that I always knew I deserved.

To anyone considering moving someplace new, I would highly recommend this journey.

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Are you thinking about moving someplace new >> comment below and tell me how you feel about it! I can’t reiterate enough…YOU GOT THIS! 🙌


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Becky

Hi, I’m Becky, a 20-something who is just trying to figure out how to adult! Welcome to T20S, a community of millennials just trying to make adulting suck less. This blog brings real advice for 20-somethings in their careers, finance, budgeting and most importantly…SELF LOVE!

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18 Comments

  1. May 7, 2018 / 9:26 am

    I don’t think I could ever move across the country by myself, but these are some wonder tips.

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:11 am

      Aw! You definitely could if it’s something you wanted, but I’m glad the tips resonated with you!

  2. May 7, 2018 / 10:02 am

    I’ve always been too afraid to move somewhere new, but also intrigued at the idea. All of my childhood friends moved away either for college, or just after. So living back home has become extremely lonely. I think these are really good tips for myself, even though I haven’t moved!

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:12 am

      Awwwwww!! I totally get the lonely feeling, it’s almost comforting to hear that everyone feels that in your 20s, regardless of where you move. If it makes you feel any better, ALL of my friends from home literally live other places than me too!

  3. May 7, 2018 / 11:53 am

    I wish I knew all of this too before I made a cross-country move for grad school! Learning a new area is so hard!

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:12 am

      RIGHT! I totally feel the same way! Hindsight is 20/20

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:11 am

      I’m so glad it resonated with you!

  4. May 8, 2018 / 10:11 am

    This is awesome! I definitely agree with all of this – when I had gone to college 6 hours from home, I was so glad that I connected with others going online before I went!

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:12 am

      Awwww! That is A GREAT TIP! I totally should have included that one! There are so many ways to make friends before you get there.

  5. May 8, 2018 / 1:44 pm

    Love this! I’ve never moved completely on my own but with my husband being military, we’ve made so many big moves in our almost 5 years of marriage (one also being cross country, Maine to San Diego, CA). Even just being the two us, the moves are scary and stressful. But I know what you mean when you say you gain independence. I tell my husband all the time that I feel so much more independent when we’re living far from friends and family than I do when we’re living back home where all our family is practically in our backyard. It’s so freeing and every accomplishment of mine seems that much bigger and more amazing.

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:16 am

      I LOVEEEEEE this perspective! 🙂 Wow! Even with someone else moving is so hard, you are right! That is a huuuuge cross country move! That’s so amazing that you’ve been able to look on the bright side and find your independence in a new space!

  6. May 8, 2018 / 9:19 pm

    There’s definitely a difference between being alone and being lonely! I loved all these tips and wish I’d had these when I was still single and moving around on my own. It can be scary moving to a new place alone, so these are great tips to help transition!

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:16 am

      Yes! I so agree! I’m so glad it resonated with you!

  7. LayanBee
    May 9, 2018 / 3:11 am

    you are so brave, this is something i would have never done or never even thought of doing. I’m so bad at stepping out of my comfort zone.

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:17 am

      Awwww! If you met me you’d probably thing I’m a very “scared” person (something I’m trying to work on). At least with moving, it kind of just happened to me because I needed a job/income. I feel like the “before” of jumping out of your comfort zone is scarier than actually doing it, I always get so nervous before hand which is something I’m trying to work on! So I totally get it. I bet one day you’ll just JUMP into a risk and realize it’s not so bad after all!

  8. May 9, 2018 / 4:02 am

    Don’t feel pressured to have it figured out all right away – truer words have never been spoken!

    • Becky Bush
      Author
      May 15, 2018 / 6:18 am

      YES! I’m so glad! It really is hard to remember in the moment!