What to think about before moving to a new city
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Bright lights, brand new city! Preparing to move to a different city, province, or even country is an exciting opportunity for significant change. It can be easy to get so swept up in the expectation of what’s possible that you might forget some of the foundational planning that will help make sure the dream of living in a new city matches up with the reality.

A move on this scale is about much more than packing boxes and cargo vans. Taking the time to get ready emotionally and financially is key to a successful experience. Making sure that your new city fits into your lifestyle and budget is essential to not just finding a place where you live, but a home that you love.

Do your research

Moving into a new home within your current city is a big deal on its own, but switching to a brand new city, potentially far away from where you are currently, is a massive life change. Get a clear picture of what your holistic life — career, lifestyle, hobbies, family, friends — could be like and that you’ll be able to access all the types of opportunities that are important to you.

●      Based on your current career or the one you’re pursuing, are the types of job opportunities you’d want available there?

●      What’s most important to your preferred lifestyle and the hobbies you most enjoy? For example, if you love to ski, do you need to be close to the mountains?

●      Do you have friends, family, or other connections in the city you’re looking at that you could rely on for some advice?

●      If you’re looking at moving to a new province or country, are you legally entitled to work in your new location? 

Get your financial foundation together first

You might be moving because you’ve got a new job already lined up. If you don’t, you need to make sure you’ve saved up enough to stay afloat during your transition. Your new city might be a lot more expensive than where you are now, and this isn’t a decision you want to go into without all the financial facts.

Based on your financial situation and budget (because you’ve got a budget, right?), do online research for basic living costs, like rent, transit, and taxes. 

●      In an ideal world, you’d have a separate emergency fund with enough to cover three to six months’ expenses. Set it entirely aside, and don’t plan to use any of it for your move.

●      On top of that, your new “move to the city of my dreams” fund would be similar, with enough for you to live relatively comfortably for three to six months in your new city without a job. This will give you a lot of leeway to experience your new home without feeling financial pressure.

Having up to a year of living expenses saved up might seem daunting, but it’s just a guideline. Based on how you live and the amount you need (or want) to spend day-to-day, you can plan how this looks for you. Remember, part of the thrill of moving to a new place is experiencing everything it has to offer. You want to avoid making a move and then not being able to take advantage of everything your new city offers because of money issues.

Get a sense of how expensive the city is overall for variable expenses as well, suh as eating out. If you’re a huge foodie and experiencing a new cuisine culture is vital to you, this is an important consideration. If you’re more into libraries and museums on discount nights, then research the different types of cultural institutions and how much it costs to access them.

Be realistic about your “why”

You’ve probably seen or read some version of an inspiring story where a dynamic go-getter sets off with nothing in their pockets and finds romance, fame, and fortune. All of that is great, but you need to be honest about your own emotional story and what’s genuinely behind your desire for change.

●      What are you going towards?

Are you moving for access to education, job opportunity, or just for an adventure? Any reason is a good reason, and it will give you specifics so that you can make sure your new location aligns with what you want.

●      What are you looking to leave behind?

It’s just as important to know what you don’t want as what you do. Think of what you dislike or want to improve on in your current living situation – then you can make sure the new cities you’re considering can help you get more of what you’re looking for and less of what you don’t. 

Get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable

When you first get settled in a new location, things aren’t going to just happen. You’ll need to learn new ways of being and doing, from hopping on public transit to finding your next favourite hangout spot. Making new friends, finding work, and becoming part of the social fabric of your new community are actions you’ll need to work at.

Get ready to embrace proactivity. You can make this easier by prepping yourself emotionally for how this new activity level will feel before you get there and begin:

●      Think of change as a process, not an action

All of this planning and doing ahead might be more than you’re used to, and it can be a bit of a mental switch. Your perspective on these new challenges can help you frame out how to feel successful, specially if you’re more introverted or shy.

●      Focus on the opportunity to refresh and reset

Without your regular routines and safety net, you’ve got a chance to flourish into a more resilient, self-reliant person. Part of the reason you’re moving might be to start from scratch and build a brand new life, and even though that will inherently come with challenges, the potential is enormous and exciting.

●      Remember your reasons

When things get a little tricky (and they will), have your “why” handy to reflect on and remind yourself of why you took on this new challenge. Keep it in your journal, in an app on your phone, or hand-written someplace you can go for a little emotional self-care anytime you feel that you need it.

Reach out to your network for personal recos

There’s lots of guidance online for tips on moving to most cities, but it can feel extra comforting to get some one-on-one advice from someone who’s been in your shoes.

Whether professionally or personally, asking for advice on a move gives you a chance to hear a range of advice and perspectives, including from folks you might not have thought about. Ask to connect to someone who lives or used to live in your ideal city and is willing to give you honest advice about neighbourhoods, cost of living, and more.

Give yourself time to get used to your new surroundings

Processing change takes time. On top of the psychological shift, you’ll have a long learning curve learning everything from small everyday choices like where to get groceries to longer-term fundamentals like making new friends and connections. Especially at first, all of those choices and learning will put a pretty significant new load on your time and energy — and that’s totally okay.

Give yourself lots of self-compassion and grace during your first days and weeks in a new location. Try to avoid pressuring yourself to fit in or understand how everything around you works instantly. Take things at your own pace, and give yourself room to fully feel the rush and possibility of all your new experiences. This is a thrilling and formative period, and you deserve to feel positive, balanced, and ready to grow from all the fresh adventures on your horizon.

Jeremy Elder is a Toronto-based content marketer and copywriter with over a decade’s experience telling stories for some of the world’s biggest brands. He’s an expert at finding WiFi wherever you least expect it.

Jeremy Elder is a paid Sonnet spokesperson.
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