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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙌