When I graduated from college, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had been slave to a particularly abusive friendship for the past four years, and thus graduated with far fewer college friends than I would have liked. During my last semester of school, I dreamt of packing up my car and leaving everything and everyone I knew behind for a life of adventure, Kerouac-esque escapades, and sleepless nights in a big city. For all those reasons, I worked my ass off the summer following my graduation and moved to Boston in September. I have only been here for a few months, but they’ve been some of the best months of my life.
If you’ve decided to gather your worldly belongings and move to a new city, congratulations. You’re brave. Here are some tips to help you on your journey:
1. Moving to a new city is expensive.
You knew this would be on the list so let’s just knock it out first. I knew my move would be expensive when I planned it, but there were several things I did not take into account, including renting a Uhaul, gas, hotels, food, cleaning supplies, and general moving expenses. All told, my trip alone cost about $2000. That’s not including the two months’ rent I was expected to pay upon choosing my apartment or the installation fees my roommate and I had to pay when setting up our utilities and cable. Aside from the astronomical hit my bank account took, learning to shop for groceries in a city was equally financially and emotionally taxing. I am originally from Nashville, TN so I was not used to paying $4 for a gallon of milk, or $10 for bacon. When you budget your move, don’t forget to include factoring in your transportation expenses (which, if you have a car, includes gas and a parking pass; and if you take public transportation, can range from $70-150 or higher), your alcohol budget (which, believe me, you want), and your social expenditures.
2. It’s hard to make new friends.
I read this in all of the articles aimed at new college grads trying to find their place in the world. Yes, it is hard as hell to make new friends after graduating college, especially when you pick up and move to a new city. But hey—if you’re like me, you wanted to start from scratch anyway. And besides…
3. But it’s not impossible to make new friends.
When I moved to Boston, my Facebook inbox immediately flooded with messages from old acquaintances who were either living in the city or thinking of moving to the city. I have reconnected with more people I went to high school with than I ever did living in Nashville. When you move to a new city, people who once knew you do not hesitate to contact you (I was even invited to Thanksgiving by a former high school teacher). And even if you want to make brand new friends, opportunities are everywhere. You’ll have a roommate or neighbors, you’ll (hopefully) have a job, and you’ll literally be surrounded by a number of individuals who have picked up and moved to that city JUST LIKE YOU DID. You are never alone, but you may have to put yourself out there and find those new friends in your new city.
4. When people invite you somewhere, go.
I can very much be a Harry Homebody. Once I’ve settled into my bed and turned on an episode of Chuck, you’d be hard-pressed to get me out of it to attend your Sunday night “Breakfast for Dinner” celebration. But it’s vital, especially when first arriving to a new city, to say yes to everything. In just the first few months that I’ve been in Boston, I’ve attended Oktoberfest, the Red Sox parade, a Bruins game, watching ball games at bars, and apple picking. While I may have been hesitant to go to most of those events, I always end up having a spectacular time and meeting new, fascinating people with whom I might not have otherwise interacted. I won’t sugarcoat it—moving to a new city is hard and it’s easy to become a social recluse, but if you don’t get out there and experience all the things your city has to offer, you won’t enjoy it!
5. Never look back.
Obviously, you can always visit the town you left, especially if your family still lives there, but odds are, you moved because you’re looking for something exciting. If you look back, especially in the beginning, you’ll be paralyzed by fear and/or regret. Stay confident in knowing that you made the right decision. Your wallet may be crying and your apartment may be sketchier than an undergraduate drawing class, but dammit your memoir is going to be wonderful one day. Soak it all up—even that unfortunate night where you got drunk on Halloween and accused a cop of being in a costume—and never look back.