When I graduated from college, I only considered moving to major cities — and settled on New York City. For my first few years in the city, the place fit me like a glove: I loved the city's energy and fast pace, and it was only a few hours from my beloved (but much smaller and decidedly boring) hometown. Sure, it's a tough place, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger! Yes, rent is exorbitant, but who really needs a savings account? Fine, there's a rat gnawing on a slice of pizza on the subway platform, but, hey, Central Park!
Five years later, I hit my wall with New York City — and no one was more surprised than I was. I figured I'd just wait it out — but after a few months of general dissatisfaction, followed by an amazing trip to Seattle to visit an old friend, I decided to quit my job, pack my bags, and move across the country to the Emerald City. If you move to a big city right after graduating from college, as many of us do, leaving it can feel like a big deal because it represents leaving behind one of your first major "adult" life choices. We didn't choose where we were born or grew up, and our choices were still somewhat limited when it came to picking a college. But the place you moved after graduating was the first place that you decided, completely on your own, to call home — and so leaving it can be a really intense experience.
Life's too short to stay in place that no longer makes you happy — but no matter how excited you are to move, leaving is still a decidedly emotional moment. Brace yourself for these 10 emotions as you pack up moving boxes inside your first apartment:
You used to think your city could literally do no wrong. Now, everything about it offends and upsets you. Since I loathe driving, the NYC subway system once seemed like the best transportation in the world — it runs all night, you don't have to pay a ton for it like you do for cabs, and it's always willing to serve as your designated driver after you go out for some drinks. But as I became disenchanted with the city, it quickly turned into my personal version of hell. Being packed into a crowded car with every single other person who lives in my borough? No, thank you. And how had I never noticed how damn loud the city is all the time? Or the fact that there is literally no escape from the summer heat and all those gross dripping air conditioners? Your frustration will become palpable and limitless.
"This will pass," you'll tell yourself. "This is your dream city. Don't give up on it so easily." You may convince yourself that, after living in one of the biggest cities in the country or world, you'll be totally bored in any other city. (For the record, this is completely false.)
This annoyance at your city and urge to move on will probably pass. But in the meantime, it can't hurt to research and visit other cities, right? Suddenly it occurs to you that some of your friends who have migrated to smaller cities or even (*gasp*) suburbs seem pretty darn happy. You find yourself googling jobs and activities in other cities and, when you visit friends, imagining what it would be like to live in their city or town.
You've fallen in love with another city and you just can't fight the feelings anymore. Life's too short to pay crazy rent on a tiny apartment in a city you've stopped loving! You feel confident and remind yourself that the worst thing that can happen is that you won't be madly in love with your new city. You seriously doubt that will happen, but if it does, you'll be able to deal. Making the decision and telling your friends, family, and co-workers is so liberating. You're about to head off on a new adventure and it's just so exciting!
It's officially happening and you couldn't be more excited! However, sometimes there's a bit of a wait between the moment you decide to move and the day you actually pack up, especially if you don't have a new job lined up and you're waiting for your current lease to end. But there are still a million things you can and should be doing! You over-zealously reach out to everyone from leasing companies to gyms to middle school friends who, according to Facebook, currently live in your soon-to-be new home.
So, uh, this is super exciting and all... but what if you're making a huge mistake? All of a sudden, your current city isn't looking so bad. Plus, you've just realized that a big move is even more expensive than you originally thought. And what about leaving all your friends behind? You thought this through plenty, but what if it still wasn't enough? What if you're making a terrible mistake and you're doomed to live in a city you hate with few friends and no money and problems that will make those hellish subway rides look like a stroll through the frickin' park?!
Despite your anxiety, your move is still totally happening. After all, you made this decision for a reason and you know that it's time for a change. But, wow! There are a whole lot of logistics to manage once you're down to the wire. If you're making a huge move, you may need to get rid of most of your belongings and furniture — and this is not as easy as it sounds. (Fun fact: in New York City it can cost around $800 just to have a junk removal service come to your apartment to get rid of your bed.) Plus, you're tying up a million loose ends at work and literally every friend in your current city wants to hang out with you before you leave. Even if you've been eagerly awaiting your move for months, it all of a sudden feels as though you have to complete an impossible amount of tasks in a very short period of time.
8. Bidding A Heartfelt Goodbye
Sure, you always knew that saying goodbye to your close friends would be sad. But it also feels unexpectedly bittersweet to leave the first big city you lived in on your own — even if you were terribly fed up with it during your final months there. You hit up some of your favorite landmarks and take in all your favorite views one last time. You may feel a lot more nostalgic than you expected. It doesn't mean you're making the wrong decision; it just means you made some really great memories during your time there.
You arrive in your new city and it's even more perfect than you hoped! Why didn't you make this move sooner? Every day is an adventure and every person you meet is so friendly! You may become super annoying on Instagram, but you can't help yourself — because everywhere you go in your new hometown is just so perfect and beautiful that it would be a crime not to share it with your friends.
10. Settling In
OK, so you've found a few flaws with your new city and had some occasional pangs of loneliness. But once you settle into a good routine, you realize that you're still your same old self — you're just in a new environment that allows you to thrive in a different way. There have been a few unexpected things, both positive and negative, but you've managed to embrace the cultural changes.
And, most importantly, you now know that you're perfectly capable of executing a major life change when you know your current situation isn't right. So, whether you end up staying in your new city for one year or for the rest of your life, you deserve major props for taking the initiative to change something that left you dissatisfied or unhappy.