People say your 20-somethings are the time to explore the world, to conquer a new city and to stretch yourself. These things sound wonderful on paper, but the reality is starting out on an adventure can be extremely intimidating.
However, so often the most intimidating step can be the most worthwhile.
I found that most clichés persist because they are deeply true and “no risk, no reward” certainly falls into that category. I recently moved time zones to a city where I didn’t know a soul and had never set foot in. Intimidating? Sure. Exhilarating? Definitely.
I lived in different cities for summers, moved to a new town for college, but this time was different. Rather than just a drive away from my hometown, I would now be a flight away. Rather than showing up to a new school where everyone would be my age and looking for friends, I would now be in the real world where people had “real people lives”—whatever those were. No classes, no orientations to smooth the transition. Just me, trusty Google Maps and a new canvas to explore.
As I do whenever I’m going to a new city, I did my research. This time, I was blown away that there were not more comprehensive resources for new transplants. So, as a recent transplant myself, I decided to put my experience to good use. Here is my guide for skipping the lost or lonely phase, conquering a new city and quickly making it feel like home.
1. Say “yes” more often than "no".
This is the most important way to branch out in a new place. It can be really easy to turn down that art show or happy hour after a long day of work, but take advantage of any little opportunity to bond with coworkers or new acquaintances. You never know which ‘yes’ will lead to a new friendship or finding your new favorite spot.
2. Stalk food Instagrams.
Let’s be real, the best part of a new city is new food. There is no better way to scope out a city’s cuisine than by following its most popular Insta-foodies. Screenshot away and save those restaurants for later.
3. Look at a map.
This seems obvious, but in today’s world of relying on iPhones and Google Maps it can be easy to get around without truly learning the layout of your city. I have found that looking at a map (yes, it can be zoomed out Google Maps on your computer) really helps to orient me so I can learn my way around (without my phone) faster.
4. Research networking opportunities.
A quick Google search will often suffice but here are some favorites I’ve found:
Facebook statuses are making a comeback and there is no better way to take a poll of literally everyone you know. Ask for recommendations and friends of friends living in the area if you are moving blind to an unfamiliar place.
6. Reach out to any and every connection you have in the city.
Don’t be shy! People generally love to help and are a great resource as you plant roots. I recently found a church to attend through my mom’s former student—who used to be an assistant pastor in my new city.
7. Be friendly.
This is just a general life tip first of all, because it doesn’t cost a thing to be a pleasant person. But, you never know whose paths you’ll cross again or where you could make a new friend.
8. Don’t be afraid to initiate.
Think that girl in the cubicle next to you is cool? Ask her to grab coffee or lunch!
9. Explore the city on foot.
Cars are quicker sure, but with your feet on the pavement you see much more. Take pictures of cute restaurants to look up the menu later and wander into shops to explore!
10. Give it time.
If you don’t love your new home right away, don’t panic. Give yourself time to settle in. if you find yourself really struggling take a weekend to get away and go visit a friend or loved one. Or, better yet, invite them to come visit you and show off your new city!