Whether it’s for a new job, an old relationship, or a change of pace, moving can stress even the calmest among us. Packing up your whole life and carrying it somewhere new is no easy task, even if somewhere new is an apartment upgrade seven blocks east. When your future home is a time zone or two away, that stress level can escalate to panic. As someone still coming off the frenzy of a cross-country relocation, here’s what kept me (relatively) sane.
Properly mourn your old home.
This can mean different things for different people, but to me, this was creating a bucket list for all the restaurants, venues, and activities I had either tried and loved, or been dying to visit and had yet to commit. This ensured I was making the most of my last few weeks in my former zip code and provided a way to say goodbye to a diverse friend group over time—rather than trying to force a last-minute dinner while I was still trying to hustle my mattress on Craigslist. My Dallas farewell tour included a rodeo, a 5k, and the best pizza outside of Chicago (Cane Rosso, if you ever find yourself in the Lone Star State).
Get excited about your new home.
I spent hours mapping the neighborhood around my future apartment, staking out the closest coffee shops and used book stores I wanted to frequent upon arrival. It made me feel more comfortable when I could name the major highways around my place, as well as describe whether I lived north or west or near or far from important landmarks. Force yourself to take on some local knowledge while you’re still living remotely, and the transition goes far smoother.
Steal boxes from your local liquor store.
I pulled this tip from Pinterest and could not recommend it enough. Y’all, alcohol is heavy. The boxes they use to securely transport Patron from point A to point B are sturdy, laminated, and large enough to be substantial, yet small enough to manage. At first I worried my new neighbors might wonder why I was pulling Penguin Classics out of a Tito’s Handmade Vodka crate, but then I got over it.
Once you’ve acquired a lush array of boxes, pack light.
I knew I was way overdue for a closet purge but didn’t realize just how much stuff I had accumulated in my early twenties. When did I take on a small army of plastic cups? Why do I have six half-used bottles of drugstore shampoos colonizing under my sink? Donate what you can, toss the rest, take your clothes to Plato’s Closet, or even easier, mail them to Twice, and start your new life lighter.
Write thank-you notes before you leave.
It will mean a lot, you get to use cute stationery, and calligraphy is really trendy right now. Be sure to include your new address to keep in touch.
Force yourself to unpack right away.
Get a shower curtain liner up so you can rinse off the move, and make your bed as soon as possible. Hang up that cool vintage map everyone asks if you got from Urban. Do whatever it takes to make you feel like a human being that lives here.
Find out who you already know.
Facebook both terrifies and amazes me, and nothing better captures this feeling than group search. You can type in your new city, and Mark Zuckerberg will provide you with a list of contacts who currently live or have lived near you. I spent one of my first weekends in my new home meeting a high school friend for coffee, and there was something incredibly comforting about having a familiar face in an otherwise foreign environment.
I have a love-hate relationship with running, but in a new city, outdoor sports are your best friends. Hiking, walking, cycling, and running allow you to acclimate yourself with your new surroundings. Most running store chains have social runs set up, allowing you to connect with others and explore a city at your own pace.
Do your research.
Again, the internet is magic. Troll Yelp for the best restaurants, shopping, fitness, and museums near you. Check local publications and regional magazines for event calendars, and circle a few events to try each week. These reviews will also help you find a new hair stylist, manicurist, pet sitter, eyelash extension engineer, etc. One of the highest rated restaurants in my new neighborhood was a small falafel place. I’m not a big chickpea girl but made myself check it out anyway—it was amazing. So, let yourself be a shameless tourist. It’s delicious.
After you have a new favorite, make an effort to become a regular.
Maybe I still have to use GPS to get to Target, but hey, if the barista at Blue State Coffee knows how I take my iced tea, then that’s still a win.