You've packed your clothes, books, and furniture. You've done your research: Neighborhood vibes, where to get the best tea in a 10-mile radius. But are you really ready to figure out how to deal with moving to a new city? Regardless of how prepared you feel for the move, you never truly know what it will be like until you get there. Moving to a new city, especially when you know very few people, is a pretty standard combo of excitement and fear. But according to the Census Bureau data, in 2013 nearly 2.3 million more people lived in metro areas than in 2012 — so you are certainly not alone in your migration to a new metropolis.
I first moved to New York City for college from suburban Massachusetts, which was a unique transition to say the least. It took plenty of cab drivers hauling it in the opposite direction upon learning I was headed to Brooklyn before I discovered you must get inside of the cab before telling them where you're headed. I learned that falafel is probably the cheapest and most delicious lunch you can buy from a cart. I also found out the hard way that city pollution takes a toll on your complexion. Although it has never been easy, acclimating to a new city certainly is thrilling. You become a little smarter, a lot tougher, and have way more fun than anywhere else in the world. Below are five things to do as soon as you move to make the transition to your new spot go a little bit smoother.
1. On Move-In Day: Go For A Run
This is always first on my to-do list when I travel to a new place. It is the perfect way to gain a little perspective on your immediate area, at a quick pace and with little pressure. You get a quick view of what's around you, without the stress of in-depth exploration (plus, you get a little cardio in). On move-in day, you're probably so curious about this brand new city that all you want to do is explore — but because moving is the worst, you still have tons of errands ahead (Ikea trip, grocery store, updating your Seamless account address). Lace up your sneakers and take just 30 minutes to soak in your new home, and make a few mental notes of cute coffee shops, laundromats, and grocery stores along the way.
2. The Next Night: Go For A Drink
Whether it's for a martini or a latte, grabbing a drink gives you an excuse to get out on your own. Of course, if you have any friends or acquaintances in the area, they can direct you to the best spots. But you're solo in a new city, nothing beats wandering your neighborhood in search of the best cup of coffee and feeling the sense of accomplishment in discovering it on your own. There are also plenty of apps that can help you have fun like a local, with recommendations for bars, clubs, cafes, and things to do from people who have lived there for years.
3. During Your First Week: Try Out Every Form Of Public Transit
I'm warning you now: You are going to get lost. And it is going to happen often. But the best way of avoiding getting lost when it matters — like en route to a job interview or a date — is to figure out public transport as soon as possible. There are tons of apps that give you step-by-step instructions and cabs are always the easy way out, but from my experience, the best way to truly get to know how to navigate your city is to go old school: Use maps and directions from strangers. Sure, there is a lot more trial and error, but you'll have a much deeper understanding of when to use the bus as opposed to the subway, or which trains are a far walk from your actual destination.
4. During The First Month: Become A Member of Something
Such an important part of learning what your city is all about is becoming part of the community. There are likely plenty of opportunities to get involved, from joining your neighborhood garden group to joining a recreational sports team. Keep an eye on coffee shop bulletin boards, Facebook, and even Craigslist for some new activities in your area to try. Take a new class, learn a new skill, even simply go to a meet-up for like-minded people. It's the perfect way to find people who you share some common interests with, as well as see new parts of the city.
5. In Exactly A Year: Remember What Moving Felt Like
Reflect on where you were and who you were when you first moved. So much changes in the span of a few months, and you learn so much more about your city and yourself than you could possibly imagine in that time. Flip through photos from your first few days and don't forget the excitement you once felt to call this city home for the first time.