Saturday, August 18, 2012

8 Tips for Relocating

I'm not the most nomadic person I know, but I am often the most nomadic person other people have met, so I believe I'm qualified to say a little something on this subject. I've lived in 6 different states and at least 9 different cities (can't tell you how many residences), attended 7 different K-12 schools, and taken classes at 7 different colleges. I've had approximately 17 jobs since I started working at age 16--slightly more than 1 employer for each year of my working life.

So, let's talk about moving and adjusting to relocation, shall we? Here are a few tips to help make an out-of-town move something you can look forward to. 

1. Don't move your own stuff if you can avoid it. Take this opportunity to get rid of stuff! Yes, my favorite thing. And try not to re-buy those things when you get settled. If you can afford movers, do that. If not, get rid of more stuff. Normally, I'm all about DIY and not spending extra money, but the physical exertion will exacerbate the emotional and mental stress of relocation. The trick is, though, that you have to relax about someone else handling your stuff. 

2. Plan the hell out of your travel arrangements. Road trips without a plan are whimsical, but you're not on a road trip; you're moving. Again, don't put yourself through extra emotional stress. You might think that you're traveling through Podunk, USA, where there's always a vacancy, but what if it's a holiday weekend? Or the one hotel in Podunk doesn't allow pets? Or there's a big festival in town that day? Make reservations and plan your route carefully. The same goes if you have to stay in a hotel temporarily when you first arrive in town.

3. Don't overplan what your life will be like in your new place. By all means, be optimistic and do some research, but allow the new place to shape your experiences. If you must plan, make lists of things that you'd like to do, but don't obsess over it. When you get there, let the city itself be your guide. Drive, bike, or walk around and get a feel for what life is like there and how you'd like to be a part of it.

4. Make connections. I'd say it's a good idea to reach out to family or friends who live in the city you're headed to before you actually get there, but I have yet to do this. At the very least, reach out very soon after you get there. Make professional contacts, volunteer, join or start a Meetup group, take classes, meet your neighbors, and start conversations whenever you can.

5. Get out of the house. Become a regular at at least one establishment. Be friendly to the people there. Again, it's about making connections, but it's also about getting out, which is hard to do if you don't know anyone in town. Even if the people there aren't exactly friends, you'll feel better getting out and being around others. Getting out is also the only way to get yourself oriented. Going out for walks is another way that people in the area will get to know you which is just as important as you getting to know them.

6. Take care of yourself. I can't say it enough: moving is stressful, even for a seasoned veteran like me. Before, during, and after the move, you might sleep poorly or forget to eat. Don't take on a lot of responsibilities or schedule appointments around this time. Give yourself a lot of down time.

7. Take the opportunity to start over--whatever this means for you. No, you can't run away from your problems, but you can get a fresh perspective on them. You can also break bad habits, try new things, and make big personal changes without backlash from your old acquaintances.

8. Let go of the past. This is going to sound harsh, but trust me. You will not keep in touch with everybody and everything from your former town. It's not realistic, and it's not desirable. Some ties have to be cut, and this is normal. It doesn't mean that you hate that person you were once friends with; it just means that you have a wonderful memory of that person from a time of your life that's passed. There have been many lovely people who I'm no longer in touch with. I routinely prune my Facebook friends list. I don't keep track of the goings on in former towns either. You have decide how much of the past you want to carry around with you (like your physical items). Again, it's not about disliking; it's about keeping your focus on the present and what matters in your life now.

Happy trails!

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