Relocating from NYC all by myself and scared. Anyone have any experience/advice?
January 7, 2012 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Relocating from NYC all by myself and scared. Anyone have any experience/advice?

I've passed the first two actuarial exams, and asking those in the business has lead me to believe that I probably will have a fairly easy time looking for an entry-level position, especially if I don't restrict myself geographically.

I'm from New York City, and while there certainly is a plethora of things I dislike about the city, there are things I think I'd miss (e.g. the vast profusion of stores and cafes, the subway).

I don't have any emotional ties to anyone here, so I'm starting to seriously contemplate whether I should/could move someplace else to start my career (e.g. Seattle, California, Colorado).

I'm into trying new things, but in this case I'm apprehensive and dare I say frightened of moving somewhere completely new, not knowing anyone. I don't want to move somewhere and be alone - I was fine with this my first few years in graduate school, but I realize now that socializing with people makes me really happy and fulfilled. Right now I have no one, really, but I want to build a strong social circle wherever I go.

Does anyone have any advice, comments, or relevant experience, general or particular, that could help?

Much obliged :).
posted by brighteyes7 to Work & Money (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I moved to Colorado (Denver, specifically) knowing exactly one person who lived there, and greatly disliking that person. I went on to make a lot of life-long friends. If Denver's on your radar, I would strongly recommend it, as almost no one you meet there will actually be from the area, so people are very open to making new friends. Also there are lots of well-educated, career-y 20- & 30-somethings.

Give moving somewhere new a shot! If you don't like it, you can always go somewhere else in a few years.
posted by jabes at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've always thought that moving out on your own to a totally new area and making it is kind of a rite of passage, (though my family has a bit more wanderlust in us than most I think). And if you don't like it you can always move back, or try a brand new place.

The first year in a new place can be a little rough when you're still meeting people. But unless you're in a VERY rural area, there should be no shortage of ways to make new friends.

Join a gym, take classes at the community center, join a church if you're religious, join a book club or a craft group if that's something you're into. Ask your new coworkers out to lunch as a 'getting to know you/team bonding' thing. (you don't have to treat them, just ask them to join you). And when you meet people you like, be brave and invite THEM to do things, never wait for them to invite you.

Also, ask for help. Ask for help a lot. Ask for advice on good restaurants, the best place to get X, what's fun to do on weekends... Ask people for help when you need to pick up that new washing machine, or take your car to the shop. It's a weird thing... Most people hate to impose on someone else when they don't know them very well. But I think most people actually really like to help (as long as you're not being unreasonable) and it does bring you closer.
posted by Caravantea at 11:20 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've lived in 9 states in 15 years. Every time I move to a new state, I move knowing either very few people or zero people in the state I move to. Making friends is pretty easy. People like to talk, just start talking to people. There are also online groups (meetup, okcupid - it's for friends too, craigslist, etc) you can try. You can also see if anyone from metafilter is near you and see if there is a meet up planned.

But really, the easiest thing to do is talk to people. I've made friends in the most unlikely places, the meat section at the supermarket, checkout lines, sitting at the bus stop, walking... You don't have to be best buds with everyone one you talk to, but it's a way to get to know the people around you.

On preview, Caravantea's advice is great too, ask for advice. People love to help.
posted by patheral at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you have any friends in any city you could see living in? Really even knowing just one person who is decently established somewhere can make a world of difference. Alternatively I know lots of people who made friends quickly through sports leagues.

One good thing is you will find, coming from NYC, how easy and cheap finding a place to live will be. You probably want to consider getting roommates in order to make friends, but be very picky. Look for similar aged, career minded people like yourself. It's a great way to make some instant friends. I find that when looking for roommates, the roommates themselves, as opposed to the house they live in, matters SO much more. I would compromise on a ton of things housing wise in order to be in the right roommate situation.

If you are a city person, you probably want to restrict your search to cities with a similar metropolitan vibe or you are going to be in some pretty serious culture shock. I'm very much a city person and I couldn't imagine living anywhere other than NYC, DC, Boston, Chicago, California, and maybe Austin, Seattle, Portland. But then again I'm crazy picky.

I think you really need to decide what's important to you. Cost of living? Weather? Outdoor activities? Urban living?
posted by whoaali at 11:23 AM on January 7, 2012

Mefites are, for the most part, awesome people. And they have meetups. This is a good way to meet people, or at least that's what I found when I moved.

(At least, this is true in the Bay Area. Your mileage may vary.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:23 AM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've moved far too many times, and always manage to find friends. Some in the workplace (a large employer with other people close to your age and pay grade will help! I've been at research institutes, where there is always a constant flux of migrants, so that has helped).

An interest that involves meeting people will also help. This may be a sport, or church, or whatever, but I have found that hanging around in bars and watching obscure heavy metal bands works pretty well. Familiar faces quickly become friends when you have a common interest.
posted by nowonmai at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2012

Moving out, on your own, is hard.

Even within the context of your own country, there'll be a period of culture shock, which takes hold about 3 to 6 months after the "new" excitement of the move and the reality of day to day life and its *difference* to your previous life sets in. This is the critical period and its better to be aware of it and thus prepared to ride the dip through that first year than to imagine it would be all roses and wonder why the disillusion.

A new city (or country or continent) is like a relationship - that's the best analogy that I can find, or rather, given the level of commitment required in the initial uprooting and move, its a marriage or live in situation. You have the honeymoon period, the disillusionment and then the settling in.

One of the things I noticed in my last move (from Singapore to Helsinki, Finland) which hindered me was that my initial contract was for 3, then 6 then 18 months leading to finally a permanent residency though I chose to pursue other options elsewhere after 27 months or so.

What this did was that from the beginning it left me hanging - I couldn't take classes, I didn't start a course, I didn't 'join' - so, I'd say, be wholly and completely mentally prepared, when and if such a move happens to walk into it with the attitude that you'll do your best to integrate and build a local life rather than having the half open door of "Oh I can always go back."

That nowhere space will hinder not only your complete settling in and making friends in the new place but also leave your heart half open to your old life.

The alternate approach is what I'm doing now, working in Africa but only going out with a suitcase to a service apartment for the duration of projects while still holding the base in Singapore. You could get the job and explore initial commuting aspects until you feel you simply have to move or the decision happens for you. This is my "I'm really not ready for relocating bag & baggage to my 4th continent in 4 years" toe in teh water approach. Let's see how it goes.
posted by infini at 11:50 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I find it takes around a year to really start to feel settled in a new place. Which is to say, regardless of where you go -- give it time! Also, whenever I am in a new city, I have a say-yes-to-every-single-invitation-that-comes-my-way policy. So even if you are feeling tired, or not interested in the event (or the people!) in question, whether it is monster trucks or the symphony, just GO.

Once you have an acquaintance or two and a job, throw a party. Invite every single person you know, and tell them to bring friends because you don't know many people.

And have fun!
posted by lulu68 at 12:15 PM on January 7, 2012

I've passed the first two actuarial exams, and asking those in the business has lead me to believe that I probably will have a fairly easy time looking for an entry-level position

I suspect this is somewhat true, even in this economy. Those exams are very hard and very few people pass them. As I'm sure you know. People who can pass these exams, generally speaking, will have more employment opportunities than others.

But don't mistake "fairly easy" for "I can lay back and have job offers come to me."
posted by dfriedman at 12:37 PM on January 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the advice.

I agree. Thanks for the healthy dose of realism. I actually meant to edit that statement of mine, but forgot to: what I meant to say is that Math near-Ph.D.'s who leave graduate school with a personality and background similar to mine may not have the hardest time finding an entry-level actuarial position. It certainly hasn't been the case for a handful of people I know in that cadre, and I'm hoping it'll be the same for me.

I also like the idea of starting a completely new life from scratch somewhere new as a rite of passage. Daunting, I suppose, but doable.

The personal anecdotes of successful similar endeavors have also been encouraging. :)
posted by brighteyes7 at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2012

Have you considered working for FEMA, or a related government agency? They would certainly make sure that you have plenty of opportunities to meet people, both like-minded and otherwise. They have district offices in fairly far-flung locations, but not so far out that you feel lost in the wilderness, or lost without people at your level of accomplishment.

It might be ideal for a first career choice, knowing that you would be making national and international contacts that could stand you and your career in good stead basically forever.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 12:48 PM on January 7, 2012

Do you know how to drive? If not, I wouldn't pick a city without excellent public transport.
posted by brujita at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2012

My family is from NYC, although we have lived all over. And what the song says is true: if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere! Seriously, no matter where you move to, you'll do fine. You already have mad survival skills, you'll just need to give yourself a few weeks to get the lay of the land, so to speak. There's lots of good advice on AskMe about how to meet people, so maybe read some of those threads and just take a deep breath and go for it! Take advantage of your mobility before you get tied down with a career or a mortgage or family obligations. I promise you, you'll be glad you did!
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2012

Response by poster: (Don't know how to drive =/.)
posted by brighteyes7 at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2012

Then San Francisco is first choice (in the city) but anywhere select locations with an eye towards p/t and amenities being nearby. (Don't drive either but managed downtown Chicago just fine as well, Pittsburgh was a pain)
posted by infini at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2012

When I moved to another state without any connections (heh, not even a job) I was also concerned about finding some friends. After some thought I came to the conclusion that the best way to get friends is to be a friend.

That is, I decided to take action to be friends with people that I found interesting, rather than sit at home moaning about why nobody calls. First, I start small-talk conversations to break the ice, then over time build those into longer chats.

Then I initiated invitations to have dinner, play cards, go to movies, whatever. Not dating but the kinds of things friends do, in small groups.

It worked great and some of those people are still counted as friends many years and several states later.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:58 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you don't drive, then you need to live in a city. Period. Anywhere else almost always will not have good public transport for you to live without driving.

Also, learn to drive. I speak as a longtime non-driver who lives in one of the few non-city places where a non-driver can survive in this state, and I have been extremely limited in my life choices because of it. Some NYC'ers don't seem to understand this point because it's not a problem if you live there, but it is a huge problem almost anywhere else.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'll learn to drive as soon as I get around to it! It's not a priority in NYC (more like a liability, from what I've heard), and I've been busy with my studies and personal life.

Wish I could favorite all comments! (I actually could, but you know what I mean.) Thanks!
posted by brighteyes7 at 3:55 PM on January 7, 2012

I also just relocated from NYC. I guess it was pretty easy for me because this is the third time I've moved to a place without knowing anyone. I also don't know how to drive, which limits me to cities and college towns. Now that I've moved to Chicago, I'm going to get driving lessons so if I do relocate again, I can have more choices.

What can I say? It's almost addicting at this point. I find it thrilling to meet new people and walk down streets I've never seen before. The first things I usually do when moving is joining some kind of team activity and some Meetup groups.

Also, you are going to feel pretty rich if you move from NYC to almost anywhere else except places like San Francisco. I'm AMAZED by how much I can afford in Chicago in terms of apartment sizes and other living expenses are lower too.
posted by melissam at 4:08 PM on January 7, 2012

Check your memail.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:59 PM on January 7, 2012

I was a lifelong NYer (except for a brief 3 years in Tokyo) and I recently moved to the Bay Area on about a month's notice. I've had no real problems for the last 3 months, and don't really miss much, except for a quality slice of pizza.
Transportation is a little more expensive here, but everything else is reasonably similar. About the only thing I've noticed that stands out is the fact that it's near impossible to get a decent cup of coffee in the FiDi after hours.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:30 PM on January 23, 2012

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