I know a few things about moving away and starting fresh. I moved 2,000 miles from where I grew up for college. I got married and moved 2,500 miles away to a new country. Last year I moved another 2,000 miles again.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At 18 I wouldn’t have said that, but I’d like to think I’ve grown wiser with age. I could go on and on about how independent, self-reliant, and strong I’ve become because of these life changes, but I won’t (for now). The flip side is that moving is scary. It’s scary to leave familiar places, friends, and family. It’s uncomfortable. But once you settle in a little and find your place, those difficulties start to fade. I have a few tips for adjusting when you’re new in town.
Get Involved in the Community
We’re social creatures; even the most introverted need some human interaction. Integrating into a community and meeting people can come through work, volunteering, or recreation. Start by meeting your neighbors. It may be very June Cleaver to go around knocking on doors until you’ve introduced yourself to everyone (baked goods optional), but it’s a good idea. Neighbors will watch out for you and your home. I remember the first time I started being recognized in my NYC neighborhood and grocery store, and it felt great. It was the first sign I was becoming a permanent fixture in my new home.
Find something you love to do and you’ll find others who share the same passion. Are you a runner? Look into local running clubs. Want to volunteer at a shelter? You’ll find like-minded individuals. Have you heard of Meetup? It’s a service to connect locals based on a shared interest. In my area there are backpackers, moms, language clubs, knitting circles, book clubs, you name it! Exercise common sense personal security when meeting people off the Internet, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. There are so many good and interesting people in this world.
Find Friends of Friends
If you’re struggling to adjust to a move away from home, social media can be such a black hole of sadness. It’s easy to get sucked into what fun things your friends are doing without you. Realizing life goes on with you in another location kind of sucks. The upside of social media in this situation is exploring connections. Facebook and LinkedIn can pretty quickly tell you if you have any friends of friends in your new city. There’s no shame in asking for a virtual introduction of even reaching out yourself. Natives to an area usually love showing people around, and you’ll immediately have at least one thing in common (that mutual friend).
Don’t Lose Old Relationships
Something I’ve realized from moving is that relationships change. Some for the better, some for the worse, and some disappear. It takes work on both sides to keep any relationship going when you don’t see each other regularly. While you’re focusing on meeting people in your new home, don’t let go of the relationships you truly can’t live without. Make it a point to text and call your mom and best friend often. Your new friends will share your future, but your old ones know your past life, and those are both important pieces to the whole of you.
It takes work to put yourself out there. Going to some networking event alone is awkward. You might have to give yourself a pep talk before going into a situation with lots of strangers. My default might not be to chat with everyone and initiate long conversations, but if I prepare myself ahead of time I can usually bolster that outgoing part of my personality.
Go forth, and make new friends!
Have you moved away from everything familiar? What helped you acclimate?
Photo courtesy of Patty.