Selecting and moving to a new city successfully is an art. It really is. If you do it right, you’ll enjoy the process and be happy with your decision. If you do it haphazardly, you’ll be stressed and unsure of your decision. There are also some secrets to being a well-liked newcomer and not a despised intruder.
I’ve moved to new cities many times. After several unhappy landings early on I decided to learn how to make my moves as smooth and as successful as possible. In addition to reading several books on the subject, I also devised some of my own methods. I’ll share what I’ve discovered about what works and what doesn’t.
Picking Your Nirvana
You’ve probably seen those online magazines that publish lists of the “best places to live.” These lists are compiled from statistical information. Many times, they include predictions based on these figures. You’re not going to know if this information is accurate until you go there and see it for yourself. More importantly, you won’t know if the town fits you until you spend some time there.
The same is true if a friend or family member tries to sell you on moving to the town where they now live. Again, until you get there and check it out for yourself, you won’t know if you’ll share in their enthusiasm.
I’ve moved to new towns based on all the above recommendations. The thing that has impressed me the most is how much different the town seemed from how an article, friend, or family member described it. I think it’s like choosing a romantic partner. No one else can do a better job of choosing than you!
The other issue is the predictions. By the time you get there, things may not have panned out or they may have turned sour.
One such magazine article prediction was tied to a new corporate park in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii named the Maui Research and Technology Center (MRTC). The article forecasted that tremendous opportunities for jobs would follow because of it. Its location in Hawaii made it very appealing. So the prediction seemed logical.
I made sure that I visited the MRTC while I was vacationing in Hawaii shortly after I read the article. I was astonished to find a huge, mostly empty corporate park with about three companies in it. That was years ago, so it might be worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Another important thing to consider is the city where an economic boom is predicted even if it’s in Hawaii. I ended up living in Kihei for a while about a year later (Law of Attraction). Although Kihei is a nice town, it’s not at all like the premium resort areas like Wailea, Lahaina, and especially Kaanapali.
Lesson: You’ve got to check things out and see if it fits you!
Try Before You Buy
You’ve got to spend some time in a city before you know if it’s for you. You also need time to discover which neighborhoods you like the most.
I recommend renting before you buy. I also recommend seeking a month-to-month or 6-month lease as opposed to a 12-month commitment if you can.
You’ve got to give yourself enough time to fall in love with a city. You can’t base your decision on the first few weeks because you’re still dealing with the stress of moving.
After about six months, you’ll know if the city is for you.
Before you decide where and if to move, do some analysis. You need to take a hard look at the truth before you make the commitment to move.
Here’s what you need to look at.
- What will it cost to move? This includes all the costs of leaving your current home (breaking leases & settling utilities), getting to the new city (truck, gas, hotel), and setting up your new home (deposits, insurance, registrations).
- Does the new town meet your employment, medical, dental, banking, educational, recreational, cultural, and social needs?
- Are you comfortable with the distance between the people you’d be leaving behind and the city you’re moving to? The internet can fill in many gaps in this regard, but it can’t handle all the needs of say an elderly parent.
Being thoroughly prepared before moving can make a huge difference. Here’s how to do it.
- Downsize – Go through “all” your stuff and get rid of as much as you can. Then clean and organize the rest. The best way I’ve found to do this is a garage sale. With a garage sale, buyers will haul your unwanted stuff away and can give you money for doing it. 😀 I wrote a very comprehensive article that will tell you everything you need to know entitled, “Garage Sale Tips for Making Serious Money.”
- Research Moving Methods – Research and compare the costs of hiring a moving company or renting a truck. Be sure to get a least three estimates for each. I call this proven successful practice “The Rule of Three.” And don’t share the dollar amount of earlier estimates before getting a new one.
- Horde Boxes – Get as many boxes as you can. You can buy them or get them from local retail stores. Stay away from meat, dairy, and produce boxes as they tend to be full of bacteria-producing material.
- Determine Setup Costs – Find out as much as you can about getting set up at the other end. This would include learning about medical and vehicle insurance rates, DMV fees and deadlines, and utility (water, gas, electric, trash, TV, Internet) installation costs and monthly fees.
- Determine Closing Costs – Find out the cost and best timetable for turning off the utilities at your current residence.
- Strategize for M-Day – Lay out a chronological plan for move day. This would include exactly what you’re going to do and when throughout the entire day (or days) until you arrive at your new home. Things to consider are move time noise, traffic patterns at both ends, food, and hotel/motel locations, and reservations.
First 30 Days
Make sure all your utilities are working. Call immediately if there are any problems. Waiting can sometimes put a burden on you in terms of service fees.
After you’ve spent a few days making your new home livable, tackle the most important setup tasks right away. This would include such things as signing up for medical and car insurance and going to the DMV. Most US states I’ve moved to require that you get a new driver’s license and register your vehicle within 30 days. There can be stiff penalties for not compiling.
Get the Lay of the Land
The best way to become familiar with your new city is to explore it with “frequent” drives, bike rides, and walks. Treat this activity as your entertainment and recreation for a while. Let it be an adventure. The more you do this the more your new city will feel like home. 🙂
Here are some important and fun targets you can look for and visit while you’re exploring.
- Visit medical and dental offices.
- Visit local hospitals and clinics.
- Look for and drive (or walk) through shopping centers and malls.
- Visit dealership service departments or vehicle repair facilities.
- Look for restaurants, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues.
- Visit parks and sports facilities.
- Visit performing art centers.
- Visit museums and cultural venues.
- Visit colleges and schools.
Become a Local
Attitude, Attitude, Attitude
Becoming a local is the most crucial aspect of the art of moving to a new city. If you approach this with the right attitude, you’ll easily make friends. Approach it with the wrong attitude and you’ll likely “feel” unwelcome because you are!
First, throw out all of your past reference points and open yourself up to discovering how the locals live. Focus on learning and appreciating and avoid comparing (to where you came from) and critiquing. This means that in all your conversations with locals you do not talk about how things are done where you came from. None of that matters now. You’re a newbie and newbies listen, learn, ask questions, and do very little talking. At least they do if they want to be liked.
Naturalize the Local Dialect
If there is a distinct dialect difference from what you’re used to, here’s how to handle it in a way that will win you friends. Most importantly, do not imitate them. Just be yourself. Let the local dialect become a part of your language style naturally, which may or may not happen depending on your age.
Preteens will pick up the local dialect quickly and maybe permanently. Those who are well beyond their teens will likely pick up very little if at all.
If there is local lingo, let those words become a part of your vocabulary naturally as well. I wouldn’t start using them until you’re sure of their meaning and you’re starting to feel accepted by the locals.
If you have trouble understanding them, I have a tip that will help. Listen and translate from their dialect and not from yours. I know that sounds confusing, but once you get used to it you’ll understand and have an easier time following them.
Meet the Natives
Attend all local events regardless of your experience or preferences in the past. You might find that the local style appeals to you. Or that you’ve changed in the many years since you attended such events.
Participating in community service projects will not only earn you points with the locals, but you’ll likely have the opportunity to meet some key city leaders.
Taking a class, joining a club, volunteering, or becoming a member of a public service organization is an excellent way to meet friends and become involved in the community. It is at these activities that reminding yourself you’re a newbie becomes imperative in order to be well accepted and liked.
Become an Icon
After you start to feel accepted by the locals, you might initiate a project that gives back to the community. Here are some ideas.
Create and lead a new event or organization that serves the community in a meaningful way. It might be a service project like painting the library or a social event like organizing a community Halloween or New Year’s Eve dance. Doing something like this is a massive undertaking but it can reap rewards in ways that you might never imagine.
I did this when I moved to a new master-planned community and saw a need for a singles organization. Before I knew it, I had a highly successful nonprofit singles organization. I had no idea that this effort would make me a well-known community leader almost instantly.
Enjoy Your New Life
Enjoy the adventure of moving to a new city. Embrace the culture and vibe. Immerse yourself in community activities.
If you’re moving away from a city that depresses you to one that inspires you, celebrate that each day. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your former city, but don’t forget where you came from either.
The experience of moving to a new city can produce significant personal growth. The move can change you if you work at it, but it will not magically fix the problems you had before you got there. Use the energy generated by the excitement of the move to make positive changes.