Before I begin with today’s post, I want to explain why I abruptly took down yesterday’s post and all links to my book. Whilst I can’t say too much right now, I have had some outside interest which means that I need to remove it from my blog. Here’s hoping it’ll be back soon with a shiny, new and polished edition :). If you were hoping to review my book (or in the process of), I will be contacting you in the next day or so.
In every city I have moved to, I have found different people trying to give me different pieces of advice on how to prepare/what to do. Given that Dan and I have now lived in 5 different cities since leaving England, I know (as does everyone else) all of the basic rules you should follow when moving. But what about the not so basic rules? What about the rules that I follow everywhere I go but never talk about?
Well, today I want to share six tips for moving to a new city that are not so mind numbingly obvious (hopefully).
1. Research your area of choice (in the not so obvious way)
I’m not talking about geographically here, I am talking about practicality. Your area of choice may sound great but have you looked into things that might seem a little less obvious? Is there a shop close by for emergency supplies? Is there a park nearby for Sunday walks/exercise? How far away is the closest public transport connection (if you don’t have a car)? Are you possibly paying more money in rent by being close to a main road? These are all things you should consider but a lot of people don’t when moving to a new city, mostly because you don’t know the area.
Something else to consider is how friendly/annoying your neighbours will be. The more residential an area you live in, the more likely you are to encounter neighbour issues. Nobody wants that.
2. Accept your losses
You will lose friends from your old home. It’s sad, but it’s true and it’s likely not anything personal. I have lost touch with so many friends since we left England in 2012 and although I felt bitter about it at first, I have realised it’s just as much my fault as it is theirs (in most instances).
Some people just can not do long distance friendships, however, it’s all down to what kind of relationship you really have with that person. If they can’t do long distance for you, they aren’t a true friend anyway. If you don’t feel like skyping them for 3 hours every other week, chances are you aren’t a true friend either. All of my best friends still live in England and we talk several times a week, which is proof that the people who are worth it will stick around even when you aren’t the easiest friend for them to have.
3. Join a meet up group
As much as you should accept your losses, you should also try to make new friends in your chosen city. Sometimes, this is super easy and other times it’s really not. A lot of it is luck of the draw and how open you can be with others, but you will also develop your own level of comfort with these meet ups the more you attend them.
Facebook is great for finding larger groups of expats/travellers if you are living in a large city, so simply searching for “Expats in (your city here)” or “English speakers in (your city here)” should do the trick. If you don’t have any luck with that, you can always try Couchsurfing or Meet Up, both of which I have had personal and positive experiences with.
4. Pack light
Dan and I spent the first two years of travelling with just a suitcase each. Everything else was left in England for the time we may decide to come back or settle down somewhere else and then ship our stuff over. There is no need to bring your entire life with you to your new city unless you are 100% sure you will stay there forever.
What if you hate it? What if there is a family emergency? What if your job falls through? What if you get offered something great back home? What if, what if, what if? There are way too many ‘what ifs’ when you first move to a new city, as it’s a decision you are usually unsure about for a while, so it’s best to pack light for your initial months there and make a bigger commitment once you’ve seen what your life will be like.
5. Learn how to get to and from your house ASAP
This one is more for when you arrive in your new city. You should make it a priority to know your way to and from your house from various different areas in the city before you venture any further. If you have to go somewhere and are unsure of your way home, do not go. It is crucial for your confidence (and safety) that you have some awareness of how to get home, or you will find yourself 1. lost and 2. feeling like you ‘can’t do this’.
It’s one thing to get a little lost, find your way and feel accomplished. It’s a total other thing to be so far out that you feel helpless, especially if you don’t know anyone. Try to give yourself checkpoints on the way to and from locations to help you find your way and if you are unsure, always bring a map or ask people to assist you. You are new there, after all!
6. Find somewhere that sells cheap and good coffee
I didn’t really want to write this point as I feel it makes me sound like the ultimate hipster, but hear me out before you judge me.
When you are meeting potential new friends (particularly if they are new to the city too) one of you needs to know a good cafe where you can grab a coffee and have ‘the awkward first meeting’. There’s no way out of the fact that this situation is awkward, even if it’s only for five or so minutes before you realise you are destined to be best friends, that moment will still happen at some point.
The best you can make of this situation is going somewhere where they have good coffee, so your small talk can consist of ‘the coffee here is amazing!’ or something of a similar nature. Bonus points if the cafe has anything cool interior wise, as it gives you even more conversation topics to start with. As for the coffee being cheap, this is because you will not only meet cool, new friends at this place, but people who you find weird/awkward and only spend twenty minutes talking to before finding an excuse to leave. If you aren’t going to be friends with this person, rather waste a cheap coffee than an expensive one.
Fellow expats & travellers, got any tips you want to add to the list?
Future expats & travellers, what other tips have you received from people?