New City, Now What?: 3 Tips for Navigating a Big Move

Moving can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Being open to the adjustments that will be part of the move and releasing expectations can help make the move a smoother transition. Here are a few tips for navigating some of the mental and emotional energy involved in a “big move” (moving to a different city, state or country.)

(1) Know before you go:

Being able to have information on your new place of residence as well as your reasons for relocating can assist with identifying and managing stressors.

• Reasons

What lead you to the decision to move? The best case scenario is you want to move. However, sometimes the choice feels less within one’s control if moving due to hardships, relocating for a job or relocating due to a family member needing to move. If you feel like you did not have a choice, identify things that you did choose and build out from there.

• Cost of the Move

Take a moment to create a budget for your move. Gather quotes from a few moving companies and ask questions of any friends or family who have moved. Be mindful of any potential hidden costs such as fees for pets or extra fees for transporting items that need to be insured.

• Cost of Living

Cost of living is the cost of maintaining a certain standard of living based upon costs of goods and services, etc. What is the average salary of the city where you will be moving? How does your salary compare? What are the rental or buying options and costs? How much do people spend on average on utilities? What is the price of gas and/or public transportation? Will your car insurance or health insurance premiums change? The internet has several Cost of Living calculators that can assist in managing your financial expectations.

• Employment

Typically employment is necessary in order to maintain a lifestyle. If this is true for you, deciding whether or not you need to find a job before or after you move is a critical decision. Do you already have a job in your new city? What are the employment rates in your new city? If your industry utilizes recruiters, working with one can assist in taking off some of the stress.

• Customs/Laws

Customs and laws do not just differ from country to country, they also differ from city to city. One example is that states in the U.S. are based upon English Common Law with the exception of New Orleans that operates under French Civil Code. Something as simple as parking on a street overnight can be a costly lesson. Pay attention to the signs and trends in your new city and do some research.

• Weather

Take a moment to consider how you may be impacted by a different type of weather. Are you used to commuting in the rain or snow? What type of clothing will you need to purchase or cleanse from your wardrobe?

• Supports

Develop a support system in your new city.


Informal supports are persons or entities that exist in a person’s ecosystem that provide support in a non-professional capacity.

If you are already a member of organizations, look into whether or not there are local chapters in your new city. Here are a few examples:

Meet Up Groups

Social Clubs

Community Organizations (including local chapters of fraternities and sororities)

Professional Organizations


Formal supports are persons or entities who provide a professional service that supports your mind, body or spirit.

Physical Health: Request lists of the types of physicians that you will utilize from your insurance provider.

Mental/Emotional Health: If you are in therapy prior to your move, it is a good practice to find a therapist in your new space. Psychology Today, Good Therapy and Therapy for Black Girls all have directories that cover most of the United States. The great thing is you can start your search prior to your move and narrow down prospects.

Spiritual Health: Research local places of worship if this is part of your current routine. If possible, visit a few of them during visits to your new city. If you do not engage in organized religion, make a list of your current spiritual practices and look for ways to maintain them in your new city.

(2) Develop a routine.

It can be helpful to develop a new routine to help acclimate to new surroundings. Find a local coffee shop, grocery store, gym , etc. and test it out. Think about how you want the vibe of your life to be in your new space and seek out opportunities to assist in its creation.

(3) It is okay if it is no okay.

Moving is not a magic cure for thoughts and feelings. You are you wherever you go in the world. If you feel down or have some initial regrets, this does not mean that the entire move was a mistake. If it turns out that it was a mistake, it is still okay. Making a new plan may be part of your journey.

Some Additional Considerations

If Moving Home

Give yourself time to consider the three steps above. Moving back home after an extended time away may not feel as familiar as one would hope. Friends and family have adjusted to you not being present so there may be an adjustment period once you return.

If Moving to Be With a Significant Other, Family or Friends

Being a visitor is different from becoming a resident. Often when visiting, people move around schedules and are focused on spending time with one another. This is typically done due to there being a finite amount of time for a visit. If possible, plan a visit during an average week without anyone taking time away from jobs/regular routines and see how it feels.

Be open to your journey and develop ways to trust yourself. Those are two tools that are consistent no matter where you live.