I’ve moved a lot in my life, so far—and relocating is never easy. Building a life is an intricate art, and when beginning from scratch in a new place, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. While it’s bound to be a challenge, here’s a little wisdom I’ve picked up after two decades of city-hopping:
1. Give yourself time.
It’s not going to feel familiar or easy right away. Understand that you’re at the beginning of a process that could take months, or longer. Be patient with yourself, acknowledging when you feel frustrated or lonely, and take the time to process these emotions. “Progress” may not be linear—it’s possible you’ll find yourself feeling confident and comfortable one day, and the next, totally disoriented again. One day at a time.
2. Get lost!
Step out your door often, especially in the beginning, and acquaint yourself with your new neighborhood. The best way to do this, I’ve found, is by getting lost—leaving your front door with no agenda and at least a few hours to spend. Wander. Take sidestreets, step into interesting-looking shops, stop off and enjoy a coffee at some new hideaway. Notice the manners and activities of those around you—what kind of neighborhood is it? Blue collar, families, corporate, up-and-coming? The more you can absorb through osmosis this way, the more you’ll feel acclimated, and the greater your comfort and confidence will be.
3. Establish a routine.
It’s great to adventure and be spontaneous, but it is also important to feel grounded. As soon as you can, try and establish a few routine activities. Is there a place nearby that serves great coffee? Get to know the baristas there—there’s nothing like being a “regular” at a local spot. Is there a neighborhood event, like a weekly farmer’s market, you could frequent? Perhaps consider joining a gym or some other community activity, or simply get in the habit of taking a walk on the same route each morning—anything to help give your days some structure and engage your new surroundings. A little goes a long way.
One day at a time.
4. Put yourself out there!
Unless you have the wild fortune of finding a built-in community waiting for you in a new place, you’re going to have to overcome some awkwardness to establish new friendships. For most of us, there’s no getting around this step. You’ll have to “show up” in places—church, yoga classes, town hall meetings, whatever your preference—and not only that, you may have to approach others and introduce yourself. This is difficult for most of us—and for some, it may be next to impossible. If you’re of the more shy persuasion, you might check out sites like www.meetup.com to connect with some of your neighbors with the help of an online forum.
5. Keep a support system on call.
There will be days when it feels that you’ll “never” be at home in your new surroundings. This is natural, and understandable. In those moments, though, try to avoid withdrawing. Instead, call a friend or loved one, and give yourself permission to vent, or laugh. Allow these breaks to reconnect you with good memories and important people in your life, and allow yourself to be encouraged by the fact that even the deepest friendships begin between two strangers. As you look ahead, allow yourself moments of gratitude for the community you already have—be they far or near.
If you find yourself in this type of transition right now, give yourself some grace while you acclimate. However, in the midst of this challenge, you also might surprise yourself with the amount of grit you’re able to muster up. Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy all of the newness—both within you and around you.