Changing cities: why do it, and where to start
Moving to another city is a big decision, and many people struggle to adapt and get their new life off the ground. Relocation can trigger a cascade of emotions: you are in an unfamiliar environment, cut off from everything you are used to and the people and places that have given you so many fond memories.
Changing cities means opening a new chapter, but fear of the unknown can be overwhelming – it’s not easy to leave everything behind. That’s why it is so important to reflect on your reasons for making the switch and take on board some sound advice to see you through the transition.
Why swap cities?
All of us have moments in our lives when we feel stuck, and a fresh start in a new city often seems like a good way to get a change of scenery, make a career shift or mend the relationships that matter most. It’s a chance to take a big step forward towards our goals.
Some of the most common reasons for moving to a new city are:
- New professional opportunities: if you work for an international company, you may be offered a position in another city or even abroad. Sometimes, exciting opportunities arise in far-flung locations. Receiving an offer like this is a chance to grow in your career and explore new horizons and experiences.
- Emotional well-being: emotions count for a great deal in these kinds of decisions. Perhaps you are going through a difficult breakup or bereavement, or perhaps you want to hit refresh on a close relationship with the benefit of a new perspective. Moving can be a way to switch things up, move forward and imagine new possibilities.
- Fun: a lot of people become restless simply because they are naturally adventurous and feel that where they live has nothing new to offer. There’s a whole world out there and plenty of cities offering a near-infinite selection of entertainment options and the chance to discover new places and cultures.
- Independence: a desire for independence means accepting a lot of responsibility, living by your own means and taking on tasks you might seldom have encountered before. If you dream of being self-reliant, a fresh start in a new city can be a springboard for independence, placing you in the way of new opportunities for personal and professional development and giving you some distance from parents and immediate family.
How to make it work
For most people, deciding to start a new life in another city is not easy, especially if you’ve never done it before. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure everything goes as smoothly and enjoyably as possible:
- Save up: make sure you put some money aside well in advance; that way, you can avoid getting into difficulties in the first few days or weeks, and you’ll have something to tide you over until you start a new job. If your company covers relocation costs, you’ll still need a financial cushion for all those out-of-pocket expenses. Bear in mind that big city life is expensive – the cost of living is higher and savings can help you make it to payday. Why take on debt that you might struggle to repay? Of course, even once you’ve settled in, you will want to have some cash reserves in case of emergencies.
- Find your new pad: before you move, scout out the available accommodation so you know what your options are. Look for places close to where you will be working and handy for everyday essentials, like supermarkets and pharmacies – and don’t forget to check what the area has to offer for when you’re not working. Central areas tend to be the most expensive, with housing prices falling the further out you go. What matters most, though, is that you feel comfortable with your choice.
- Make a budget: it’s important to get really organised with all your bills and expenses, so you can keep on top of everything and stay out of debt. Drawing up a spreadsheet of your income and expenses can help you make the smartest use of your money.
- Shop carefully: the first few times you shop for groceries, make sure you only buy what you really need. Some people like to make a list and plan out their meals ahead of time. Remember too that, when in an unfamiliar city or country, you might encounter new dishes that disagree with you at first.
- Learn the language: if you don’t speak the local language, make sure you learn at least the basics before you leave. It’s important to understand the most common expressions so you can communicate effectively. Despite its ubiquity, English isn’t the only option. People tend to be very proud of their own language and roots, so it’s well worth making the effort.
It’s normal to feel a little stressed when making such a big move. The good news is that with the right preparation, you can take all these new experiences and challenges in your stride.