Even if you’re doing it for a good reason, and even if the prospect of living in a whole new place excites you, it’s never not stressful, it’s never not complicated, and it’s never not intimidating.
The best way to make it a little bit less sucky is to prepare yourself. I don’t just mean packing up all your stuff and changing your mailing address. I mean doing mental and emotional preparation, too.
With that in mind, before you commit to that piece of Chicago, Malibu, or Toronto real estate you’ve been eyeing, here are some important things you should remember.
You will get lost
The main difference between a big city and a small town is size. Duh. The thing is, even if you’ve lived in a big city for years, that doesn’t make it any easier when you move to a new one.
Every big city is big in its own way.
When you first move to a new city, you’re going to get lost every now and then. It’s just a fact of life. You simply don’t know the neighborhood, you don’t know any of the landmarks, and you don’t know any of those oh so handy shortcuts.
To make things easier on yourself, don’t hesitate to use the GPS on your phone, even when just out for a walk. When stopping at destinations you’ll visit often, like work or the grocery store, pay attention to surrounding areas. Consider making time to drive or walk around these areas for a bit, just to get a sense of how everything relates to everything else spatially.
When you inevitably do get turned around, don’t panic. Even if your phone is dead or you’re in a part of town you’re not comfortable with, just take a minute to breathe, gather your thoughts, and retrace your steps. You got this.
You will feel homesick
A big reason why it’s so easy to get lost in a new city is because of the lack of familiarity. That same quality can also wear on you after a while. Novelty can be thrilling, but even the most adrenaline-addicted among us craves the comfort of reliability every now and then.
No matter how much you may (or may not) love your new city, at some point you’re going to start missing your old one. Maybe you miss the friends and family members you left behind. Maybe you miss the feeling of confidence and security that came with knowing your surroundings intimately. Maybe you just miss that one Chinese restaurant with the really good wontons. Whatever it is, it’s a natural side effect of moving, so don’t beat yourself up over it.
Don’t let yourself get dragged down by it, either. Keeping in contact with distant loved ones is always helpful, but stewing in nostalgia is a good way of missing out on the present. Regardless of the specific catalyst, moving is supposed to be a way of progressing your life forward.
If looking at old pictures from your old house cheers you up, that’s great. But make sure it’s not holding you back. Put yourself out there. Explore. Discover. Make new friends. Seek out other recent transplants who may be going through the same thing you are. In time, your new city will begin to feel like home.
You will learn to love it
Whether you jump into things headfirst or have to be dragged kicking and screaming, chances are you’re going to fall in love with your new city at some point. Instead of resisting it, embrace it. Instead of getting impatient, give it time. And instead of feeling guilty, revel in your latest love affair. You’ve earned it.
Once you’re willing to love the city, the city will love you, too.