Lots of movies feature a character who makes a move to a city, but they neglect to show all the preparations. One moment they’re sitting at the family dinner table, the next they’re in a crowd of hundreds of people like a school of fish. What did they pack? We never see the suitcases! Big cities can mean big changes, so here’s a manageable moving list of some of the details you can use in real life that they leave out in movies.
1. Don’t bring a lot of furniture.
City apartments can be very small, so space is precious. You also might want to adjust your taste and plans after getting ideas from some other apartments. And you’ll certainly find some interesting new pieces of furniture in the city! Maybe someone you know will be moving and will be getting rid of stuff. Maybe you’ll find something on the street! Just don’t get bed bugs!
2. Don’t buy a lot of clothes beforehand.
Seeing a movie about a city doesn’t really prepare you for what you’ll want to wear when you live there. Unlike driving in a car, if you’re mostly walking, people will be seeing your outfit for many hours a day. Try buying one new piece at a time and see if it feeds the energy of the city, then build a wardrobe that works just for you. It might be joining the bandwagon on a fleeting trend, dipping your toes into a classic style that never goes out of fashion, or inventing your own fashion game.
3. Wait to get a haircut until you’re in the city.
Nothing will help you blend into your new surroundings like a haircut by someone who lives there. See their interpretation of your personality and energy. City stylists are often natives, so they’ve seen decades of haircuts!
4. Organize your wallet.
With so many people often standing in line and restaurant workers having so much going on, keeping a neat and orderly wallet is a mature and responsible gesture that will make everyone around you comfortable with you. Always make sure to bring both cash and a credit card just in case (you never know when one won’t be accepted).
5. Get a bag that won’t get bumped into.
Some areas of the country have a lot of space to walk around with a bulky bag, but big cities usually involve walking in close quarters. Make sure your bag is tight against your body. Also make sure that your bag is super comfortable so people don’t have to feel sorry for you.
6. Buy really comfortable shoes.
Speaking of comfort, make sure you have shoes that are very comfortable to walk in, stand in, and while you’re at it, maybe closed toed shoes so you can get stepped on! Women sometimes carry a pair of heels and have commuting shoes. Only tourists really wear heels!
7. Consider leaving your bike at home.
Biking in the city seems like a convenient way to get around, with exercise as a bonus. But streets are pretty dangerous, and once you see experienced city bikers, you’ll notice that there’s a huge learning curve ahead. Some cities have bikes you can rent so you can try it out. Bikes also take up a lot of space!
8. Network with everyone you know who lives there.
People in cities are generally very friendly about networking, so make sure to contact everyone you know in the city before you even go. Don’t forget your parents’ friends and your siblings’ friends too! Don’t just make a social media update. Contact people individually and have conversations with them about the move. Maybe they’ll have some advice or connections!
9. Bring things that remind you of home.
Cities are diverse places with room for people of all backgrounds. Don’t forget who you are or where you came from. They won’t be forgetting, either!
10. Make sure to keep in touch with people from home.
Let everyone know, also individually, that you’re moving to the city. Hang out with them before you leave in case you won’t see them for a while, and before you know it, they’ll be there to visit you soon! Don’t wait for a Facebook update about them being in town that you see 49 hours too late.
11. Plan to have an airbed, futon, or fold out couch for friends to visit you.
Make sure to have some extra bedding too.
12. Watch some movies about the city you’re planning to move to.
Take them seriously in a way, because everyone who lives in that city has seen the movie or even saw it when it came out. They’ll be referencing it! But don’t take it too seriously, because Hollywood has a way of glamorizing things, blowing things out of proportion, or leaving out the details. Learning what’s not in the movie will make you a real city person over time.
13. Visit and stay over if possible.
If you don’t have friends or family you can stay with, stay at a hotel or hostel.
14. Familiarize yourself with different neighborhoods.
15. Find your dream job.
Are you a barista? Check out the most famous and most popular cafes in the city. What position would you want there? Dream big! Send them a cover letter and resume, even if there isn’t an open position. Try to meet people there. Be a regular. Also immerse yourself in coffee culture all over. Send them an updated cover letter and resume in 10 years. You planned so well for your move, you might still be there!