How to Adjust After Moving to a New City

Two years ago, I made the biggest change of my life and moved from my hometown of Buffalo, NY to Washington, DC. I never pictured myself living in a big city, much less living so far away from home.

So why did I move? The answer is a tale as old as time: a boy.

I know, I know. We’re not supposed to make big life-changing decisions based on significant others, but our situation was a little unique, and that boy did end up becoming my husband. Sometimes we have to make big life-changing decisions based on significant others to be happy.

To say that adjusting to my big move was hard would be an understatement. I am such a homebody and being far away from my family was heartbreaking and still is. I get homesick, but I have found ways to deal with it.

I think for some people, moving to a new city is no problem. But others, like me, take a lot of time to adjust. Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience of moving to a big city:

1. It’s okay to be overwhelmed.

Moving to a new city means getting used to a new way of life. Especially if you’re coming from a small town to a big city, you’re going to have some big changes. Life in a city is much different than a small town.

When I moved, I was not only living in a new place, but I also started a new job. Then, on top of that, I got engaged shortly after. All of these were huge life changes and added a ton of stress to my life. All at once, it was a lot to handle.

Change is always going to be stressful. You need to just accept that you will be overwhelmed and take each day as it comes. Try not to stress too much and cut yourself some slack as you adjust to your new life.

2. Get involved

When you’re starting over in a new place, you’re building up your network from scratch. Especially if you don’t know anyone in your new city, it’s important to get out and meet people as soon as possible. Having a good group of friends will improve your quality of life and make it easier to adjust.

I was lucky enough to make friends with some of the people I worked with. I also had a few friends from high school who lived in the area, and I had my husband of course. Having people you can count on and who support you definitely helps make being away from home a bit easier.

3. Explore

No matter where you’re living, there are always new areas to explore, new things to do and new places to see. Try being a tourist in your own city and check out the major sights. What makes your city unique? Get a real feel for the place you’re living. It’ll make you more comfortable with the area and the more you know about it, the more it will feel like home.

Living in Washington, DC, there is always something going on, and seeing the monuments on the National Mall never really gets old. My husband and I have a running list of restaurants, activities and places we want to see and do. No matter how many we cross off, there’s always another to add on.

4. Homesickness is normal

There are days where I feel completely fine – at peace with where I am and happy in my new life. Other days, it hits me like a truck at full-speed: homesickness. Sometimes, it can be completely overwhelming and take the breath right out of me.

I miss home, I miss my family and sometimes I miss my old life. I have to remind myself that this is completely normal. I am not wired for change. And even though it’s been over two years, I am still adjusting. Getting used to a new way of life takes time and I think a part of me will always be homesick – and that’s okay.

5. You can always go home

When you’re missing home, sometimes the best thing you can do is to pop on home and get a visit in. I’m lucky enough that my hometown is just a short 1-hour flight or 7-hour drive away. If you’re farther than that, it may be more difficult, but a visit can sometimes do wonders to lift your mood.

And if you ultimately decide that your new city isn’t the right place, home will always be waiting for you. Just like Dorothy says, “There’s no place like home.”

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