Finally moving on
December 30, 2018 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Living on my own for the first time, in a new state. How do I make the best of it?

Calling out to people who've been in a similar situation. Moving away in January from family, friends and familiar things - California to NJ - and I'm ready to embrace the challenge and see what I'm made of.

What were the hardest parts? What do you wish you handled different or wish you knew before? How to handle missing family and embrace being in a new place.

Any advice would be appreciated!

posted by morning_television to Human Relations (14 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
This is going to sound really woo-woo and hokey, but you need to decide that you're going to love it and then LOVE IT. Look at it through the lens of a great adventure. Try to look see things in the best light possible. It really makes a difference.

Fall in love with your new city. Wander around. Try all those local restaurants instead of getting fast food. Same with the coffee shops. Just think of all the amazing food you're about to eat while you discover them all! Find the library, get on the email list. Look up the city calendar and go to events. Find out what makes your new home amazing.

Making friends as a grownup is hard, and I'm an extrovert! In my opinion the best way to meet people who are like-minded is to start volunteering. Find a local group with values that align with yours and go there. At the very least, attend their events that are open to the public. You know the people who are going to be there are people who care about the same things you do! The other bonus to volunteer work is that it's hard to sit at home and miss your family when you're too busy to sit at home.

Also, be a little guarded with new people. There are those who prey on the new kid. Some people are genuinely nice and welcoming, they're not going to ask for anything in return. Watch out for the people who seem to be keeping score.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:46 AM on December 30, 2018 [25 favorites]

Be open minded! When you've lived in one place your entire life it is easy to assume things like.... All supermarkets have a Korean food aisle and when things are different, one can jump to the conclusion that they're wrong or bad. They're just different and try to find the joy in the differences.

It can be time consuming to find a new dentist, hair person, mechanic... So when you meet people, ask for recommendations and keep a mental or physical tally of the most popular ones.

Making friends as an adult is super hard. Get involved in a hobby group right away.
posted by k8t at 11:04 AM on December 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have moved to & lived in different countries or states far from family & friends several times in my life. What I wish I'd known is that about 3 months in you are going to get hit with homesickness to a degree you can't imagine. The first 3 months everything is new & you're figuring things out & it's all a big old adventure and everything is great and then your brain switches from happy fun new thing mode to this is the new normal mode & you suddenly will miss the strangest things. The second time this happened I was ready for it & it was so much easier

Be prepared, have your favorite foods, treats, snacks from home ready for comfort eating. Skype everyone, be prepared to stay home & just feel like crap for a week or so. Save a few fun new places you can go & play tourist at for this time frame too remind yourself why you moved. If you can arrange for someone from home to come visit & this point so you can show them all the cool new things you learned about your new place even better.

Good news is it passes, and you will feel much more at home in your new location when it does, but seeing it coming stops you from talking yourself into packing up & going home like I did the first time. It's also OK to be happy as hell you moved and still miss family & friends, accepting that dichotomy was a big part of my learning to bloom where I'm planted.

Also almost no one where you move to will care about where you lived, no matter how much you miss it & desperately want to talk about "back home" no one in your new location cares & they certainly don't want to hear how better things are back home and no one back home wants to hear how much better things are in your new location. Save the stress & just talk to them about the location they know about.

These are the 2 hardest parts about major moves for me, despite them I love moving & living in new locations & would do it all again in a heartbeat but you asked for the hardest parts.

Side note the best part of moving a lot is finding all the cool new places to eat. Go try all the places.
posted by wwax at 11:36 AM on December 30, 2018 [14 favorites]

I was really surprised at how frequently I got sick with colds the first year after I moved cross country. I don’t know if it was the stress of so many big changes all at once or if the cold viruses were just ones I had never been exposed to. But I was sick more that year than I had been my entire adult life. I wish I had thought to take better care of myself (hand sanitizer, vitamins, extra sleep etc) right after I had moved.
posted by ilovewinter at 11:59 AM on December 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

Really think about what you want your house to look like and function as. Make sure when you buy furniture it actually works for your home and what you want to do there -- i.e. don't buy a huge couch if you actually prefer to curl up in a big chair or on your bed. Leave room for a desk if you work from home or have crafty hobbies. Invest in organization systems, like cubbies and shelving, so you have enough places to put things so they don't end up in a jumble. You can make a mood board, or a pinterest album for ideas if that's your style, or just write out your thoughts and refer to that when deciding things to buy.

It's *your* home -- that means you have all the freedom to do what you like! It's actually one of my favorite things about living alone.

As far as making friends, see if there are neighborhood or community projects you can get involved in. It's really great to know and be on good terms with neighbors. Let go of the idea that you need to find an established group of friends to join, though. It's totally fine (and easier) to make friends one at a time and introduce them all to make you very own friend group :)

Congrats and have fun!
posted by ananci at 12:23 PM on December 30, 2018

DO A THING once a week. Whether that's going to the movies or to the farmer's market or to a meetup, having something every week (other than work) that is on your schedule. Knowing you'll be out in the world at least once a week is a good start. For people of faith, that might include going to a house of worship (but that's not for everyone).

When I first moved to my city (gosh, 20 years ago), I went to movies on Sundays and did touristy things at least a few times a month. It meant that I got to see more of where I lived than my home and office and grocery store.

Make sure all your friends and family have your mailing address; people are more likely to send you real mail when you've relocated than at any other time except maybe your birthday or the holidays.

Explore. Talk to strangers. Follow social media accounts for your new community. You won't feel at "home" right away, but somehow knowing it'll take time makes it easier to wait. Enjoy!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:06 PM on December 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

You will feel very cold. I went from California to the UK and omg I was so cold. Everyone was running around in normal jackets and shoes and I was JUST SO COLD... it takes a couple winters for your fat to get more dense.

Also, I made my best friends ever in those years, but I didn’t know it at the time. I moved away from there like 8 years ago and my friends I made have become the closest of my life (at the time though I was really lonely) ...
posted by catspajammies at 1:06 PM on December 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

Definitely +1 to keeping an open mind. It's going to be much more different than you're expecting--and that's okay! One of the things I've loved about moving around the US so much is that I've gotten to experience the ways in which our country is really a series of smaller cultural enclaves, as well as the ways in which people are people no matter where you are. I've always found it helpful to deliberately try to turn any negative thoughts about a new place into positives or neutrals. For a low-stakes example, here's what happened when I moved from CA to CO: "Geez CO's liquor laws are so broken, I miss CA" turned into "Wow I wonder what wacky historical things led to this!" and then I researched those things.

Definitely take some time to learn about the history and culture of your new home. I didn't develop much affection for CO until I started seeking out the weird historical and cultural things unique to the area. Same with when I lived in MA for a few years. It's also helpful to know the cultural context of the differences you encounter, and the political climate, and even the local inside jokes you'll hear at work.

If you are at all inclined to get involved, get involved with local politics or your community. Biking is super important to me so I joined the local bike activism group. I researched my first election here more thoroughly than I've researched any election in my voting life. Other friends who moved here immediately found a volunteer gig--which also has the benefit of helping you meet new people.

Stay in touch with your CA friends and family, but leave space for new friends. I moved here with 3 other coworkers, and one of them refused to go back to CA his first year here, to really give him time to settle in here. I didn't do anything of the sort, and actually fell into the trap of spending all of my free time online with my friends back in CA, leaving me no time to get accustomed to my new home. Took me quite awhile to really recover from that bad habit.

Learn what you need to be physically comfortable in your new climate, then acquire those things. My first couple weeks of winter here sucked because I hadn't yet gotten around to buying appropriate clothing and I was cold and miserable. I did, however, get started quickly on figuring out the new skincare routine this dry climate requires, and I'm grateful for that.

Overall, know that it takes more time than you think to learn enough about a new place to know whether or not you really like it. Give it at least a full year before you decide whether or not you want to stay. (Obviously there are some exceptions, like if the weather makes you ill or you're queer in a hyper-conservative place and don't feel safe.)
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:43 PM on December 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

I agree with wwax about the sudden homesickness, but it doesn't always come in 3 months. I also moved around a lot, and 10 months was usually when it hit me. I also agree, forewarned is forearmed.

You say NJ but don't mention what part. If your home or your work is within an hour or so of New York City, I recommend going there every chance you get, for museums, plays, history, etc. Go by train so you won't have to worry about traffic jams and parking. If you're close to Philadelphia, that's good (though not as good) too. If you're in the boring middle, or the more distant edges, you'll have to rely on the advice already given. Personally, I was not wild about NJ — and I was coming from TX not CA — so my advice may seem a bit negative, but that's how I did it.
posted by ubiquity at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh it is so hard to meet new people and find friends. What’s hard to realize at the time is that friends are made through experience, and that just takes time. There is no shortcut. These people will not seem like friends - or as good of friends as you left - for a long time.

Ditto to comment above on the homesickness. My rule of thumb is giving a place 2 years. Year 1 for me is all about mourning what I’ve lost. Year two is about learning to love what I have now.
posted by greermahoney at 3:31 PM on December 30, 2018

What helped me the most after a cross-country move similar to yours was going to local Metafilter meetups. I don't know what I would have done if it weren't for low-key relaxed social interaction with such great people.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:33 PM on December 30, 2018

So much good advice here that I wish I'd had when I made my first big move.

My additions:
Buy silk thermals, and good layers.

For me big moves tend to trigger depression. Take good care of yourself - get exercise, sleep and good food. If you sense depression happening, get some help sooner rather than later.

I wish I'd known more in my 20s about how to avoid falling into sad moods. I'm still working on that but if you're prone to funky moods, it's something you *can* work on and it's not truer to yourself or better to stick with the dark side and see it all the way through.

If you have the slightest interest in doing so, host dinner parties and game nights. Even if your table is a secondhand mess from the 80s and your silverware doesn't match and you're not the best cook ever.
posted by bunderful at 4:43 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

My advice is to be a tourist for a bit when you arrive there. By which I mean, spend time at the tourist-y places, don't commit yourself to a particular coffee shop (or grocery store, or bookstore, etc) as being YOUR place, go out of your way to NOT build an immediate new routine for your life. It's tempting to try to create that right away because routine is comforting - but if you can handle the challenge of spending some time feeling a bit out of sorts, your world will get much bigger. You'll see more of the city, meet more people, have more adventures. Plus, when you finally DO land on one place as being "yours" you'll know it's because it's the best!
posted by VioletU at 5:02 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Advice given to me when I made the first of this kind of move: "Bloom where you're planted." It became my mantra. I also found it helpful to become a regular at a coffee shop, corner store, restaurant, etc, so that I felt like I was part of my neighborhood/city. And I was eager to do all the touristy things and explore my new place: asking everyone for recommendations of what to see/do was a great icebreaker.
posted by TwoStride at 1:56 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older A travel alarm clock that uses lights - but is...   |   Best shampoo for curly hair? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.