As classes wind down on campus during the spring semester and seniors gear up for college graduation there is one thought on everyone’s mind… what’s next? Some students move home with a job in mind, and others take to the road for some soul searching. But some young adults take the biggest leap and move clear across the country to a different city.
As a leadership consultant, I have first-hand experience with this! I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, but when it was time for our placements, I was asked to relocate to Dayton, Ohio, to work with the Kappa Gamma Chapter for a year as a residential consultant. I was prepared for this possibility, but the idea of moving somewhere I didn’t know a single soul was still intimidating. Where did I start? Where could I buy winter clothes? How do I deal with the snow?!
So, to those who may be in a similar situation, here’s a list compiled of the things I’ve learned during my stint in the Midwest over the last year to help anyone move to an unfamiliar city.
Step 1: Do your research!
Depending on your situation, your move could be a big one or a little one—either way, it’s important to research what you’re getting yourself into. Be sure to look into different cultural and lifestyle aspects of your new city and how people operate. Metropolitan areas like New York City or Los Angeles are notorious for having stereotypes associated with them, but that doesn’t mean smaller cities don’t have them as well. Now, I’m not saying you should fall into believing everything that these generalizations claim, but you may still want to be careful venturing into Boston with a New York Yankees hat on.
Some questions to ask yourself with this one:
- Do the demographics change from what you’re familiar with?
- How does the weather behave throughout the year?
- What do people do for fun or leisure?
- What cultural or ethnic groups live here? (e.g. a great opportunity to try new foods!)
Step 2: Prepare for the move.
After you have done your research, it’s time to act! When an opportunity comes along, it usually won’t wait forever, so be proactive with your preparations. For example, my friend Abby received a job offer in Washington D.C. and had to relocate 16 days later. This meant she had to sell her car as fast as humanly possible! You don’t want to be scrambling to get your affairs in order the day before you leave. That time is reserved for hugging your family and eating at your favorite Mexican restaurant one last time.
More questions to ask yourself:
- Where can you find living accommodations in your price range?
- Can you keep your vehicle where you’re going?
- Do you need to add new pieces to your wardrobe for the job or the weather?
- How are you moving your belongings and who can help you lift that couch?
And if you’re making a move for your career, see what accommodations the organization is willing to offer. They may provide compensation for your travel or even offer some sort of stipend for miscellaneous expenses.
Step 3: Use your resources
Truth be told, the first few nights after your relocation can feel overwhelming. This is especially true if you don’t know anyone except a few new colleagues at work. But luckily, with Sigma Kappa women all over the world, you have a network that you can feel at home in. I encourage you to put those feelers out and use your resources to make adjusting to your new home more seamless.
Becoming a part of a local alumnae chapter will not only help you build instant connections, but will also provide you with a group of women who can help show you the ropes and teach out about living in the area. to learn more about getting connected to other Sigma Kappa alumnae in your area!
Other than your Sigma Kappa resources, be sure to ask your friends and family who they may know in the area. You would be surprised at how many people have connections or know a friend of a family member who lives there. Before receiving my placement in Dayton, I had never heard of the place! I immediately had to turn to Google to find out where Dayton was located on a map (tip: it’s in western Ohio). But later, when I told my family, I found out that I had more connections than I thought! This instantly helped me feel more secure in my move, even if it only meant that I would have someone to call in an emergency situation.
Step 4: Go for it!
Start going to local places to increase your network and amount of human interaction. I found that I loved going to the same grocery store, or even my nearest Walgreens, and having people start to recognize me as a “regular”. The servers at my favorite Mexican restaurant here in Dayton even know my usual order now (which may be mildly concerning but I like to see it as a positive). The more you immerse yourself in the culture and the day-to-day life things, the quicker you will feel right at home.
So, get out there and go explore your new stomping grounds! Be bold. Don’t let feelings of homesickness take over or keep you from creating a beautiful relationship with your city. If they do creep in, family and friends are only a Facetime call away. You’re already a winner because you took that leap to get there, so now enjoy it as much as you can.
This is not an all-inclusive list of what you need to know by any means, but I hope it helps give you a starting point! From one person who relocated to another, I wish you all the best on your moves, whether it’s down the street or across the country.