If you’re reading this, then you’ve likely been dreaming of moving to a new city, perhaps to the city you know you’ve always belonged. You might’ve even started asking these questions. How do I start over? How am I going to make friends? How am I going to find a place to live? How am I going to find a job? Keep reading because this just might help you!
I spent my first 5 years of life in the giant city of Chengdu, China, which had a population of about 8 million when I lived there ages ago (the population grew to 14.4 million people now!). When I moved back to the United States, I landed in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a town of 36,000 and a peaceful place to grow up. I experienced Arkansas from kindergarten through college and the first couple legs of my career. Then a feeling deep in my gut finally made its way to the surface over the years, and I just knew it was time. I had to go back to being a city girl. Oh, I’m sure you know the feeling. The feeling where how badly you want it just grows every time you think about it. I wanted to move, to take the leap.
For me? Three words. New. York. City.
Some say it’s the greatest city in the world and while others say it’s the toughest nut to crack. My mind was set. I would make New York City my home.
Know you’ll be uncomfortable and embrace it.
When was the last time you didn’t know anyone, where to live, where you were going to work, all at the same time? Mostly likely back in school meeting new classmates for the first time. As we’ve gotten older, we naturally fall into similarity and flex the “discomfort” muscle less and less. Like any muscle, the more you flex it, the more instinctual being uncomfortable feels. Acknowledging and embracing discomfort is a key to moving to a new city, and slaying it.
Land a great job you actually enjoy.
If your company lets you transfer or work remote, great! If not, be organized and disciplined with your job search if you want to land a job you’ll love. Make a spreadsheet of positions you apply for on each source (ex: Angel List, LinkedIn, Indeed) and the date you applied, and the status of the application. I spent almost a week researching and applied for about 20 positions, after about 3 weeks, I got 3 offers.
Truth is, it’s very unlikely you’ll receive a job simply by applying through a job board. Most people get positions through a connection or word of mouth nowadays. I dug through my LinkedIn connections and found 2nd-degree connections for the company I was applying for. Then I very graciously asked the middleman/woman to introduce me. Everyone was very happy to make the introduction! People are willing to help. Most importantly, dare to be different. Dare to be yourself.
I’ll write a pieced dedicated to landing a job with all the juicy and actionable details soon!
Meet people that could become lifelong buds
Making friends will take work and require you to be uncomfortable. I downloaded the friend dating app, Hey Vina, and met one of my best friends there. Bumble BFF is also great for this! I also asked my good friends if they knew people in NYC and was introduced to amazing people. People who are your friends already will likely know people you’ll also like!
You’ll also encounter people through work, your gym, your office building when you’re walking down the street. Who knows? Don’t be afraid of starting a conversation. If you like that guy’s shirt, tell him. Also, just dating in general and meeting people on dating apps will help you meet new people that could become great friends (and your one true love if you’re lucky). When you meet people, talk about what you do and what fuels your fire and what you enjoy doing. Trust me, you’ll find people who are into the same things.
Find a safe neighborhood to live
The most important thing when looking for a place to live if you’re moving alone is to find a SAFE place to live. Next, find a neighborhood that jives with your vibe. Studies have shown that commute time is inversely correlated with happiness, so if commute time is an issue, you might consider living closer. Now onto roommates if this applies to you. There are tons of apps to find roommates nowadays, and in NYC, I found great roommates on Facebook groups! Always interview the roommates via video or phone to get a feel for each other vibes and to discuss personality and living preferences. If you can, go see the apartment in person, have a friend do it for you, or do a video call to check the place out.
Network professionally with people you like
My first few months there, I went to about two industry events a month. I found too many events on Facebook, MeetUps, and Eventbrite. There’s a Facebook group for practically every interest group nowadays, you only need to search and go! This isn’t an article about how to network, but my biggest piece of advice is to be humble and to be yourself.
Get a fitness routine that you’ll actually stick to
Find your gym or get on Classpass! For me, if I pay for something, I’ll get my use out of it. I got a cheap NYC gym membership and then paired it with Classpass to check out different types of classes in different parts of town. Since you get fined if you cancel or miss, I was also incentivized to go. It also helped me to get a workout in either somewhere near where I worked or somewhere near home.
Get out there and explore the city!
Dedicate time to explore and get to know your new home! After all you’re new! In NYC, you can just pick a neighborhood and start walking around. You’ll discover great food, cool exhibits, people doing gravity-defying acro-yoga in the park, and who know what else!
Get to know your neighborhood
Life is much easier when you know your hood. Find your grocery store, your deli, your go-to late night food, laundry, your gas station, and waxing studio, etc. Get to know the places that will always cover your basics, and your neighborhood will start to feel at home. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when your local deli starts making you a pastrami sandwich with pickles, tomatoes, double mayo, on a roll and toasted when you walk in.
Enjoy the local food and drink
For a foodie like me, food culture is incredibly important. Make time to enjoy new foods and bars around your neighborhood and around town! Also, ask a new friend to come to eat or grab a cocktail! Eating or getting a drink usually only requires an hour of commitment, so if you don’t click then just go home after. No harm, no fowl (see what I did there?).
Make time for things you like/hobbies
You gotta keep doing what you enjoy. I’m borderline addicted to live music and dancing, so I immediately looked up live shows. Luckily, practically every artist comes to NYC and I was able to experience so many shows with new friends that I had just met and friends that I met at the shows! Do what you love, and you’re also bound to meet other great humans along the way.
Open mind. Open heart.
When you’re planning to move to a new city, you must always keep an open mind and open heart. You’ve just moved to a new city! You don’t know anyone! This is a chance to be genuinely yourself and to create the life that you want to live. When you open your physical and mental space for new experiences and new people in your life, you’ll manifest it.
As Susan David once said, “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” Now, get out there and embrace the discomfort and joys of moving to a new city… and conquer it.
Carrie is a co-founder and the Chief Marketing Officer of Sniffle Health, a mobile telemedicine app. Before embarking on the start-up journey, Carrie earned her academic degree in biochemistry and molecular biology with a pursuit of medicine. She turned down her medical school acceptance and worked in finance for a year before realizing she wanted to an active part in growing a company. She’s since led the marketing for a couple of start-up companies including TUSHY and Chef Shuttle, which exited in an multi-million dollar acquisition. Carrie is a firm believer in self-expression and perpetual progress as differentiated thoughts followed by differentiated actions, drive innovation.
In the wild, you’ll find Carrie grooving at a concert or music festivals, sparking conversations with strangers about spirituality and business ideas, and eating her way through the world (with extra hot sauce).
Connect with me on Instagram: the_cyang