Moving to a new city is never easy, and when you do it alone, there are always some extra challenges. Whether it’s moving to a new city in your 20s for a study abroad semester, or a post-graduation escape, or a career & lifestyle change in your 30s or 40s, moving to a new city is one of the most affirming and exciting things you can do as an independent person.
The thrill of a new place and starting something new is hard to beat. But moving to a new city takes a certain amount of ambition and skill.
Personally, I’ve moved to new cities for new experiences on at least five occasions as an adult. And sometimes it wasn’t just moving to a new city alone, I moved to a whole new country alone!
When I moved to New York City about two years ago, I made the decision to move because I wanted a fresh start—to make new relationships, to restart my career, and to just shake things up in my life with fresh motivation and inspiration. Some of my previous moves were a little more happenstance but moving to NYC required a bit more thought and planning.
Throughout the planning process of a big move, I learned a lot on how to best prepare. Living in any new and foreign city is always going to be a bit of a gamble and a challenge, but with the right mindset, a lot of ambition, and a few quick & easy skills, it certainly doesn’t have to be scary.
Whether it’s finding an apartment, researching your new home, or trying to make new friends, use these tips to make a new move easier.
How to Move to a New City Alone:
16 Tips to Make Moving Easier
1 – Research the city’s neighborhoods
The first step in any big life decision should always involve a bit of research. And when moving to a new city, it’s important to learn your way around.
Knowing where you’ll be working, figuring out commute times, and understanding how to get from one end of the city to the other is important not just for understanding the time needed to travel, but can also simply help with exploring a new city.
Research your new city’s neighborhoods to get a better understanding of where you want to live. That will make the apartment search process so much easier.
2 – Come with extra savings
Once you know you’re going to move to a new city, start your financial planning early. The standard financial advice is to have 3-6 months of savings available as an emergency fund, and that’s something you’ll definitely need for a big move.
It helps to come to your new home with a bit of extra money—not just because there are likely to be a lot of surprise expenses, but because you’re going to need to be extra social & ready to spend on new activities and things to do.
Come to your new home with extra savings—more than you think you might need. And the move-in process will be so much better!
3 – Be ready to be extra social
One of the most exciting parts of moving to a new city is the social aspect. Yes, it can be scary to be in a new city, a new country, a new neighborhood—but once you start to meet new people, everything’s going to be alright.
Making new friends and taking the time to explore is going to make the move-in process easier. Make sure you plan time to be extra social once you start to settle in!
4 – Pack light
Every move is tough and it can be expensive, too, with shipping and movers costs. The less you pack, the easier it will be to settle in. But also: packing light gives you lots of opportunities too create a new home in a new environment.
When moving to a new city alone, consider leaving your furniture behind (sell it for that extra cash), and moving into a furnished (hipster) apartment. You’ll have a lot less stress dealing with furniture if you move into a temporary, furnished sublet.
Common Apartments offers fully-furnished private rooms in shared buildings, and the monthly rent even includes a cleaning service, household essentials, WiFi, utilities, and community events & activities.
5 – Stay in a co-living apartment
What is co-living? Put simply, it’s the process of having your bedroom space private, but a shared community space (generally a living area and kitchen) that you might share with a handful of other occupants.
It’s a great option for those moving to a new city alone, because: (1) the private rooms come with all utilities included, and (2), it’s a fantastic way to quickly meet new people but retain plenty of your own private space.
Co-living apartments like at Common.com are generally the same price as short-term rentals on cozycozy.com, but luckily they include all utilities, washer/dryer, cleaning services, and free wifi. Coliving at Common is great because you can also easily transfer between buildings if & when you want to move to a new neighborhood or city.
6 – Be ready to explore
Moving to a new city might come with a lot of little stresses, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it as a new adventure! With the right attitude, and a willingness to explore your new home, you’ll be on the right path to truly love your new environment—and better prepared for the long-haul.
7 – Come with a plan
I’m a notorious notetaker and list-maker. When planning to move to a new city, it’s important to have some sort of plan. Make a list of the things you need to bring with you, the new things you may need to buy.
Make a list of goals for living in your new city: things to do, tourist places to visit. It’s important to make a plan, but also remain flexible.
8 – Go to events & get out of your comfort zone
When moving to a new city, going to events and trying new things is one of the best ways to meet new people. It can be exhilarating when you get out of your comfort zone. Show up at places or events alone and with a willingness to meet new people, and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.
When living in a co-living apartment, you get the benefit of a private space, but a convenient community in your shared space. It’s a great balance for those of us new to a city who want to meet new people.
9 – Don’t be afraid of strangers
Use common sense, of course. But if you’re moving to a new city alone, I think you’re probably also the type that’s a little more willing for new adventures. Stay open-minded and meet different kinds of people.
Go to networking events for your work, or attend meetups hosted for new visitors. Join a book club. Go out to bars or drag shows alone. Just don’t be afraid to meet new people when you’re out in the world. Ask questions and start conversations. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to talk to strangers, and even more so when you’re new to a city
10 — Ask for help & new connections when you need to
When I moved to New York City alone, I didn’t know many people and so when I announced on Facebook and Instagram that I was making the move, I asked my existing friends and network to connect me to anyone they might know.
It can be daunting to ask for help, but when it comes, it feels great. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to make new acquaintances.
11 – Start dating
If you’re single, dating is a great way to make new friends and meet new people (and sometimes it’s even fun!). But it’s also a fantastic way to explore a new city!
When using dating apps, get recommendations from your potential dates—and ask them to make the recommendations on where to meet! Build up a list of places you want to try as well, and invite them to explore with you. Dating in a new city is fun and exciting, and doesn’t have to be hard.
12 – Keep reminders from your old home
Listen, we all get a little homesick every now and then. It’s healthy. That’s why it’s helpful to bring small reminders from your previous home.
When moving to a new city, there will always be challenges. But as long as you keep mementos from your past and reminders of where you’ve come from, you’ll be able to get through it.
13 – Stay in touch with your old connections & friends/family back home
Just like you should keep little reminders from your previous home (clothing, toys, artwork, whatever helps), it’s also helpful to maintain all your old relationships as well.
Keep in touch with those you know and love. I’m sure they’ll be excited and interested to hear about your new home.
14 – Document your new adventures
This might be a surprise—but I’m a journal writer. Keeping a diary of your new adventures in your new home, the people you meet, the things you do—it’s a great way to capture that excitement of being in a new place and starting a new adventure.
You might even consider starting a blog to share more about your adventures in your new city. It’s a great way to keep you accountable to try new things and to get out there and explore.
Start writing about the restaurants you visit, the museums you go to, and you’ll find yourself going to more and more. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with family and friends back home—and even maybe make new friends.
15 – Walk everywhere & use public transportation
Personally, I’ve always found walking to be a great way to explore a place. When I moved into my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, I started walking as much as possible in every direction. I was curious about the streets around my new home and it was a great way to explore the neighborhood.
When going around to other places in New York City, walking has given me the chance to discover places I might not have otherwise found. Using public transportation to get around is also a fantastic way to explore. It allows you the chance to get to different areas you might not otherwise know about or be as willing to explore.
16 – Record The Scenery and Make a Printing Pin
During the journey, besides taking pictures to record the scenery along the way, what else do you do? When the printing pin comes with a stunning image, you’ll think the photo isn’t so perfect.
So, you can try to use the scenery you took to make offset printed pins, you can print the photos you took on pins, and use them to decorate your clothes, bags, hats, etc., I think it’s amazing that you can carry the landscape to everywhere at any time.
You can also store them as a permanent souvenir, and they are away from discoloration or damage like a photo with the time lapses.
Moving to a new city alone, whether it’s for a career change or if you’re a digital nomad, is a lot of fun and one of life’s best adventures. Put in the time to plan and prepare for a move and you’ll find it’s not as challenging as you might expect.
Note: This post is sponsored by Common, though the opinions and recommendations here are my own. Take a moment to search through the database of available Common homes in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Seattle. The rates are competitive (typically 20% less than a studio in the area) and include all sorts of amenities.