I got engaged and moved to a new city all in one week...
I went from celebrating one of the happiest moments of my life to dealing with one of the most stressful – moving 800 miles away from my hometown for the first time.
I lived in Kansas City for all but my first couple years of life. Even when I “went away” to college, it was only an hour drive up the highway.
I wouldn’t have made the decision to move if I didn’t believe I could handle it, and I knew in my heart that getting out of the comfortable bubble I’ve spent my life in thus far would be a great opportunity to learn and grow. That said, I don’t know if there’s a word that fully describes how overwhelming this transition has been for me. So I’m here to provide a bit of insight for those who are considering relocating for the first time.
Before the Move
Do your research
Before we selected our apartment in Tennessee, I looked into two things: 1.) Proximity to the nearest “popular” city
By doing this, we were able to find the perfect middle ground location for Dexter to have a reasonable commute to his job and for me to be in closer proximity to the city for photography opportunities. We also considered if we could see ourselves staying long term in the areas we looked at, access to grocery stores, barbershops, car dealerships, etc, if we would feel accepted by the community, safety, and if there would be opportunities to connect with other couples/families around our age group.
Give a proper "goodbye"/"see you later"
Familiarity has always brought a sense of comfort to me. I had no idea how much I’d miss driving the same routes everyday, seeing the same workers at my usual spots, etc. If there are places that are special or routine to you, make it a point to visit them one last time to soak in the memories.
Go see your people. Whether it’s family, friends or even coworkers. My last two months in Kansas City I visited my parents weekly and got together with my brothers more frequently than normal. I scheduled my last brunches and outings with my favorite people as well. I’ve found myself flipping through our memories in my phone more frequently than normal and it’s brought a lot of comfort during this time.
For some people, moving away isn’t a bit deal. (I’m assuming you’re not one of those people if you’ve gotten this far in the entry.) Pat yourself on the back and shower yourself with words of affirmations. You are branching out and giving yourself a huge opportunity to grow. Decide who you want to be in this next chapter of life and commit to the idea of being that person, no matter what challenges arise.
Moving is stressful. Relocating is stressful. But remember that the sooner you get it done, the sooner you can start the next chapter!
After the Move
Give yourself time
I think it’d be easier to hit the ground running if you’re relocating with a job, school or other opportunity lined up. Since I transitioned to full time entrepreneurship in the last few months, it left me with a ton of time to myself.
I’m a few days shy of two months in my new city and I’m just now picking myself up from the blow this move did to my confidence. I don’t have a problem admitting that I have had a much harder time adjusting than I anticipated. I needed to give myself time to process and grieve everything I felt like I lost during this move. Give yourself grace and time, then pick yourself up and get ready to work!
Start your "new" life
Following up on the previous note, I’m happy to report I’ve been doing great the last two weeks! I realized I was initially shrinking when I needed to be stepping into the new version of myself that I said I want to be. Anytime I switch to my default of a timid, fearful and doubtful girl I remind myself that I am a confident and capable woman who is not afraid to fail. It’s not about being fake, it’s about speaking it into existence and owning it!
Set goals in daily life
Scale back from your life and career goals and think smaller. What’s going to help you adjust and feel more comfortable in this new space? For example, venturing out into the city felt overwhelming so I gave myself milestones. I started by choosing a specific location to drive to nearby until I felt I could make it there without GPS, a few days later I challenged myself to drive further out during a time with heavy traffic, and the next week I decided to drive 40 minutes away to the city by myself. Although I’ll always be an anxious driver, I feel so much more familiar with my area and I truly feel accomplished.
Again, focus on things that will make YOU feel more prepared, confident and at home in your new city.
I know the introverts are cringing right now.
Find ways to start developing connections. Even if you will have coworkers or classmates you can develop relationships with, I encourage you to step out of the box. Since I don’t have either, I found groups of local photographers and black business owners on Facebook. I added a few nice photos and did an introductory post saying who I am, what I do and that I’d love to form some connections in the new city. This led to friends/follow requests, invites to local events & groups, and invites for coffee.
This is something I didn’t even do in my hometown. Thus far I’ve been on one coffee outing and have two scheduled. I felt extremely comfortable socializing and realized it was because I knew that if things didn’t go well, I never had to see them again. haha Thankfully, it was a good time! (Of course, it’s important to consider safety when meeting people in this manner.)
Find your happy place
If you have specific interests, favorite cuisines, etc make a list of where you can find these spots in your new city. (i.e. brunch spots, coffee shops, book stores, movie theaters, etc) Make it a point to treat yourself to a trip to one of these destinations frequently. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the city, get out in the community and experience an environment that feels more comfortable for you.
Make yourself at home
I’m a firm believer that your home should feel like a safe haven for you. Unpack the boxes, put up the decor, pull out your favorite pieces and do your best to settle in as soon as possible.
Although our new city doesn’t feel like home just yet, our apartment does. That alone brings so much comfort to us after a long, stressful day.
Whether it be through a journal or photos, I think it’s important to capture where you are today so you can look back later and see how far you’ve come. Take a before picture of your new home before you make it yours, write about how you’re adjusting to the transition, film a TikTok/reel if you’re feeling creative!
Despite the stressful and anxiety provoking moments, I hope that you will find the joy and adventure in this next chapter of your life. It may be a bumpy road ahead, but try to enjoy the ride.