I’ve moved to new cities before, but never to anywhere where I didn’t at least know at least somebody.
But a lot of people do that all time, whether it’s for work or just to try to start over.
And it’s good to learn from the folks who have already been there and done that.
What are your tips for starting over in a brand new city?
Here’s what AskReddit users had to say.
“The one thing that really surprised me was the fact that I didn’t love the new city immediately. It was bigger than I was used to, more expensive, and the job had such higher expectations than my last, same exact job.
It all took some getting used to, and that took longer than I thought it would. But I loved exploring little hills and out of the way parks, and one day it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was so in love with this new place; I couldn’t imagine ever living anywhere else.
Well, of course, now I do, but my love affair lasted a long time. But I think it’s a place for younger people, a place to explore and find your way around the city and find yourself.
Others have made some really good suggestions, but I think I had to be more comfortable with me before I could be comfortable in a new place.”
“I moved to a new country, twice, and both times the key has been to join social groups.
The first time I moved I was still in college, so I joined a student program for internationals that I ended up being a “local” guide for later on for a while, and the second time I had colleagues who were a bit of a drinking group at the local pub.
It’s not really important how you put yourself out there, as long as you do. A big thing people forget about moving to a new place, if they haven’t done it before, is that you have just entirely removed yourself from your safety net, socially speaking.
Even if before you weren’t very social, you probably still had a handful of friends that filled your life. Now you have nothing. There’s a big gap between that and you will notice it in your mental health if you don’t get something to replace it.”
“Trivia bars. Or activity night style bars.
As much as you might hate it, some of them will be like “Hey, we need a team over here. Any individuals?” and help you guys join almost like a project in school.
Keep coming back to the bars and you’ll either make friends with the team trivia members, or the people who host it/bartenders.
Find places you like and return to it and eventually you’ll meet regulars there who will recognize you.
It’s gonna take a bit of time.”
“Get to know your immediate neighborhood.
My family and I moved last year from the US south to the PNW. I went through a period of feeling very homesick and disconnected to my surroundings. I changed my mood by really making my neighborhood my own.
I started talking and becoming friendly with the people nearby that I come into contact with on a regular basis like my pharmacist, barista, crossing guard, etc. I get out everyday and go run in my local park and it helps me to feel connected to where I’m at.
I try to look around and remind myself that this is my home. I think this all sounds goofy but it helped a lot.”
“Try to be a yes person for the first 6-8 weeks. Any time someone asks you do do something or go somewhere (within safety and financial reason) say yes.
Even if you don’t really care for that activity or type of food or whatever, say yes and go. It will help you meet people outside of your immediate circle, and once you have seen people socially a couple of times, you can figure out who you are interested in spending more time with and asking them to hang out is less awkward.
Just remember, every event isn’t going to be the most fun you ever had. It’s okay to have just a nice time, because that’s laying the ground work for those really fun nights.”
“I re-started 4 years ago in a new city, and, believe me or not, something that helped me was Pokémon Go
. Not only to have an excuse to explore the city, but to find out about landmarks, both famous and lesser known, that otherwise you’d probably never hear of.
And I was even able to make some friends with a handful of players. It’s funny, but it made the transition much easier!!”
“I relocated from North America to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to start a business 9 years ago.
So, maybe a bit more extreme than intended by the question? Well, here goes anyway.
Get your finances in order before moving. Work out short term housing before committing to long term housing.
Stay out of trouble — do your paperwork and abide by the law.
Read up on the ways immigrants are vulnerable in your home country. Be prepared to face the same challenges regardless of how good you are at #2 and #3.
Choose your friends carefully — better to have fewer friends than the wrong friends. Maybe do some volunteer work to meet positive, productive people.
All boring, basic stuff.”
“Nobody knows you, so you can try to change some habits.
I was too shy to talk to people and usually just waited for them to approach me, but when I moved I started talking to people first. It was hard but I’m glad I tried.
Changed my eating habits too. Think what kind of a person you wanna be and just try it, see how close you can get.”
“I have moved many, many times. I know that I will hate my new environment for about 3 weeks, so I plan for that.
I stock up on food I will enjoy, have something I like to drink and arrange for entertainment – books, music, tv, whatever you enjoy. After 3 weeks I start to feel more comfortable and do lots of the following: I always find the library closest to home and get a card right away. Get a map and learn your way around the city. Explore.
Read the local newspaper, even a throw-away one – find the rummage sales, antique or car shows, free concerts, food fairs, etc. This is tougher during the pandemic, but will pay off in the long run. Pursue hobbies or start a new one. This should connect you with some like-minded people. Take a class, perhaps pertaining to your hobby. Join a professional organization or some other organizations that pertain to your interests, e.g., church groups, book clubs, music venues, science lectures, etc.
Find what the new city is known for and join in. If it’s art, go to the art shows, if it’s roses then learn where to see them, etc. As you learn your way around, invite others to join you, even if it’s just a trip to the farmer’s market, a stroll through a park, or shopping for wine.
When you invite someone, they’re more likely to reciprocate. Be generous with your smile, encouraging words, a friendly demeanor.”
“I started over in a new city in 2019.
If possible, visit the city first. I saved myself a lot of grief by visiting first and knowing the general area. If you can’t visit, check out google maps.
Find a job before you move if possible. I found a job with a chain that had a location in the new city. I didn’t need to be retrained, so that was one less thing to stress about. The job was the same. I set it up so I had two weeks before I had to start so I could unpack and get settled.
When you pack, get rid of a bunch of stuff. Have the essentials, like a change of clothes, toiletries, small appliances, and food ready to unpack the first day you arrive. You will be so tired and not want to dig for stuff. Bring a small pack of toilet paper and hand soap for the new place.
Try to have at least a pot and a pan, some rubber scrapers, and plates if you can. I’d also pack blankets someplace easy to get out so you can just curl up and sleep if you need. Moving is STRESSFUL, so you want all the stuff you need easy to get to before you unpack entirely.
LOCATE THE GROCERY STORE. Also find some local restaurants for those first few days.
Don’t forget to set up your utilities the first day. That’s a must.
Find a club if you didn’t move with a buddy. Get out your first weekend and go see the sights. Get used to your new environment. The first few weeks just kinda suck, so try to get some good stuff in there. If you can, try to find a club or two or activities/hobbies before you move. Something to look forward to and one less thing to stress about.
When you first get there, pick a landmark that’s visible from most of the city or your neighborhood. A building, monument, etc. When you’re learning to navigate that first month or two, that will help you. Make sure you can get home from and get to the landmark.
That way, if you ever get lost, just head toward it and then you can get home. Eliminates some panic and stress. This was one of the most helpful things I did when I moved.”
Now we want to hear from you.
If you’ve ever started over in a new city, please share your tips and advice with us in the comments.
We appreciate it!