Adjusting to a New Move
April 2, 2008 5:08 AM   Subscribe

How long does it usually take to adjust to a new place? I moved away from my girlfriend and friends by 3 hours. I know few people (those I met at a church and in workplace)...I am having a rough time of it as i am new in town, new and stressed at job, and just new at about everything it seems. The good news is that my girlfriend and I are getting married but it will be 8 months. SO, how long on average does it take a person to adjust to new changes such as job and city? I appreciate your feedback. My anxiety is much higher than it needs to be.
posted by snap_dragon to Human Relations (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It always takes longer than you expect it will. You left out the important information of how long it has been since you moved to the new place.

Depending on your sociability and determination to get out into social situations (clubs--athletic, educational, or party; bars; concerts, etc.), it can probably take from a half of a year to a few years. The more you go to places where you can meet people (and talk to them), the more people you will meet.
posted by that girl at 5:19 AM on April 2, 2008

Depends on a lot of factors - mostly related to how outgoing you are, the activities you can find in the city you live in and how much external reinforcement you need. But as someone who has done big moves three or four times in my life (usually by about an 8 - 10 hour drive) I find that it usually takes me about 3 - 5 years to really feel like i'm "home" in a new city. That might just be me though.

On a side note, you may want to check out and your local alt-weekly newspaper for activities/gatherings. I've found them to be a great way to meet new people.
posted by tundro at 5:20 AM on April 2, 2008

I say a month or so. You were probably in this situation once before, the first week of college. There you had structured activities where they threw you in with a bunch of other people you had nothing in common with (classes, orientation, dorm, dining hall) and, if your experience was like mine, you quickly sorted out who you enjoyed and made good friends that you still keep. Now, in that case /everybody/ was new, but in this case you can at least choose activities where you have something in common -- join a bowling league, running group, pottery class (church is a good start). You have to throw yourself into group situations, and although you're busy now, if you set a consistent weekly time for them you'll just naturally adjust.

Good Luck!
posted by mrflip at 5:22 AM on April 2, 2008

There's no one answer to this. By "adjust" you seem to mean: not be sad, lonely and anxious When I moved to Europe I wasn't sad or anxious, I was very excited about it and was happy to be here, so I guess I "adjusted" immediately -- even though things were new and unexpected. A better question for you to ask would be: how do I make friends and social contacts in a new town? or: how do I find ways to fit in to a new scene? Answers to these questions would actually help you with your problem, whereas if a bunch of people come in here and say "it took me a week" or "it took me a month" that may have nothing to do with you and doesn't help you with your problem. Also there are probably a lot of helpful askme threads about fitting in to a new town.
posted by creasy boy at 5:25 AM on April 2, 2008

The first week is terrible. The second week is REALLY hard. But you'll notice a big difference the third week and by the fourth you'll have established patterns that make it remarkably easier. I've moved many times and it's always like this. Most recently I've moved to the East coast where there are no traffic signs and roads follow ancient cow paths--I got a Tom Tom GPS and OH WOW WHAT A DIFFERENCE. The TOM TOM is worth its weight in gold.
posted by Murray M at 5:29 AM on April 2, 2008

I've been living in Philadelphia now for 2 years (moved here from St. Louis), and despite being an outgoing person, it took me a good year to really find my place here in town. It can be quite intimidating to go into an environment with new people, pre-existing friendships, and a sense of being an outsider. What ultimately proved the deciding factor for my "integration" with the city turned out to be one person. She was a good friend of one of my friends from back in St. Louis, and we started hanging out and forming a great friendship. I was actually introduced to her via Facebook (a little sketchy, I know). I met her friends, formed friendships of my own, and kept meeting new people (the cycle perpetuates once it reaches critical mass, so to speak). I certainly can sympathize with your situation having been there myself, and I urge you to keep up the efforts to meet people in your new location. For me, it took time to become a "regular", but I have a much more rewarding social life here as a result. Good luck!
posted by galimatias at 5:51 AM on April 2, 2008

Best answer: Here is a link to the question I posted back when I first moved to Philadelphia (I pretty much had the same questions you do). There were some great suggestions in there, so it might be worthwhile to give it a quick read.
posted by galimatias at 5:54 AM on April 2, 2008

It depends on if you are involved with outside activities. If you live an insulated life you may never get adjusted. Join at least two group activities or clubs and it could be a month or two. I like to explore new places so it doesn't take me too long to get the hang of a new location.
posted by JJ86 at 6:00 AM on April 2, 2008

For me, about a year. Push yourself to get out of the staying-in rut, but also be patient with yourself. Big changes often affect us more than we realize, I think.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:40 AM on April 2, 2008

Best answer: It's taken almost everyone I know a year to adjust to living in New York. (It took my about the same amount of time to adjust to living in London.)

The general pattern seems to be...

i. first six months, frequent anxiety, loneliness and fantasies about leaving (vs. feelings of shame for not being about to cope).

-- at the end of this period, some give into despair and leave; others push through it and stay.

ii. second six months, it begins to get easier. People make friends, develop routines, etc.

iii. year 2: in love with NYC. Can't imagine living anywhere else.

iv. year 3: honeymoon is over, but NYC feels like home.
posted by grumblebee at 6:51 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hope to find out soon - I moved to Washington, DC in July 2007, and I'm just now getting a feel for things. And what am I going to do soon? Move to Dallas in August 2008.

College was easier - everyone's as disoriented as you are, especially if you go to a school that most people have to travel to (ie, not local). Moving to Washington, though, was a total turmoil - everyone already had given connections, and I feel like I'm consistantly behind the curve. Add to the fact that I'm not traditionally social (hate clubs, love small bars), and that makes it tough.

Dig your heels in, find people you like, and just slip in to the whole mess. For me, it feels like the city is on a giant moving sidewalk - when you first step on, it takes you a bit to get used to the flow. After a while, though, you just go right with it.
posted by SNWidget at 7:12 AM on April 2, 2008

One trick that has helps me get oriented to a new city is to buy a city map, tack it to the wall, and mark points of interest (home, work, supermarket, bars, gym, parks, library, friends' houses, whatever) on it with push-pins. Highlight the important roads.

It won't help you make friends directly, but at least it'll help you learn your way around.
posted by LordSludge at 8:44 AM on April 2, 2008

For me, as a kid growing up, the low point after moving was about 6-9 months in -- that was when the newness wore off and the "I'm never seeing my friends again" set in. But it was all uphill from there. But not total normalcy and a full group of friends for at least 1.5 years, and I'd guess that gets longer as you get older.
posted by salvia at 10:31 AM on April 2, 2008

I also find it takes me about a year to feel like I really live in a place. To know that I'll see some familiar faces when I go to the coffeeshop, to know some of the secret back roads, to have a sense of what the rhythms of the place are like, to meet people and find that they know other people that I know. It takes longer than that to start feeling like I have good friends, places that are "mine", etc. So far I've always gotten to that point, it just takes a while.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2008

Best answer: Another trick, implicit in what I said above, is to pick one place (for me it's usually a coffeeshop, but it could be a bar, small bookstore, small movie theater, comic book shop etc) where you will make a point of becoming a regular. With a coffeeshop, this means coming in every couple of days at least. With a comic book shop it could be less often. But make a point of going there as part of your routine even if you don't have any special reason to go. Drop in, make some chitchat about the weather or local news ("so I saw there's a new construction site out by the Kmart. Do you know whats going in there?") or whatever. Mention that you're new in town, whats the good bakery? or the good car repair place? etc. Gradually you'll become a known face. Within a couple of months, they'll be letting you know if there's a good sale at the store you like, if there's a good concert coming up, etc. They might introduce you to other patrons who have similar interests, etc. It's a simple thing but it really helps me to start feeling like I belong.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:21 AM on April 2, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I really feel better with the feedback. It gives me a sense of control and what to expect and some courses of action that I can take. It also affirms that what I have been doing is the right thing. Truly, thanks a lot from the bottom of my heart.
posted by snap_dragon at 11:36 AM on April 2, 2008

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