Posted Feb 18, 2015
Tips for Moving to a Big City
Whether you’re making a new home on the West Coast, along the Atlantic or somewhere in between, moving to a big city can be a scary experience. You may not have an abundance of friends or know all the best coffee shops in your new hometown, but that shouldn’t deter you from taking the plunge.
After all, there are plenty of perks to living in a major metropolis, from more job opportunities to a rich culture that’s continuously transforming to expose you to new and exciting things. And with these tips for moving and settling into your new home, the transition may be a little less overwhelming:
Pare Down Your Belongings
Television shows like “Friends” are downright misleading: Unless they’re paying serious loot for a place, people moving to the big city for the first time should not expect their apartments to be as big as Monica’s.
In cities on both coasts, the micro-apartment trend is making huge waves as the amount of available space dwindles with each newcomer. While shopping around is key to finding the most space for the best price, don’t let lofty expectations get the best of you: Start preparing in advance for cozier living.
Those with a lot of belongings may want to consider reducing their personal inventory– doing so will make your new apartment feel more spacious and make moving a much easier task. Selling your unnecessary items (who really needs two waffle irons, anyhow?) is also a great way to pare down your belongings while earning some extra cash for the big move.
It may seem like a disappointment at first, but once you get used to less spacious living quarters, you’ll soon become a pro at making the most out of less space. You might even find a whole new appreciation for clutter-free living.
Know the Parking Rules
If you’re making your way to New York, Chicago or another metropolis with a reliable public transit system, sell your car beforehand. When you find yourself in need of four wheels, turn to services such as Zipcar or ridesharing, which are much cheaper than the costs of maintaining your own vehicle.
However, if you absolutely must have a car for your new big city life, make sure you’re in the know when it comes to parking regulations. If you fail to get the right parking sticker, you’ll very quickly accumulate an overwhelming abundance of those neon-colored tickets. The parking rules can vary from street to street, so make sure you check with your landlord in advance to avoid pricey fines.
Study the Public Transit System
Depending on where you choose to move, public transit might just end up becoming your best friend. Even if you own a car, you’ll quickly learn that taking the bus or train downtown and to certain other parts of the city is faster and much less hassle, not to mention it can save you tons of money in parking garage fees.
You’ll want to download your city’s public transit app for your phone, but keep in mind that batteries die, reception fails and other misfortunes will leave you without Internet on the go. So you should have at least a working knowledge of the bus and train system.
Budget for the Actual Cost of Living
Life in the big city can be a lot pricier than you might expect, so you’ll want to create weekly, monthly and annual budgets with that in mind. You may know in advance how much you have to allot for rent and other set expenses, but many necessities vary depending on what part of the city you live in.
Before you move, reach out to friends, family, and Internet dwellers living in your future neighborhood for a realistic idea of how much you’ll need for groceries, gas, and entertainment. You should also keep in mind that a large city offers more opportunities to spend money— there are theaters, pubs, museums, and plenty of other sites you’ll want to see.
Find the Freebies
While some things will be more expensive, a little digging around will reveal a whole new world of fun stuff that doesn’t cost a dime.
Many city museums open their doors to the public for admission-free days, public parks host free concerts, and zoos often don’t charge an entry fee at all.
Carry Some Cash
Your first instinct may be to avoid carrying cold hard dollar bills with you when navigating a big city.
However, having a little on-hand can prove to be very helpful: You’ll need a few notes for an afternoon snack from the hotdog stand or some dough for that impromptu bus ride.
Start Your Day Earlier
Whether you’re driving or taking public transit, traffic and congestion on the streets and sidewalks of a big city means you’re going to need a little more time to get where you’re going.
As you become more familiar with your new hometown and learn shortcuts, you’ll be able to cut down transit time. But as a newcomer, give yourself plenty of time to learn the ropes.
Making new friends in a busy city can be difficult, especially in places where people rarely make eye contact with strangers let alone say hello in passing. So it’s important to get over your fear of rejection, get out there and try to meet new people.
Join an organization where you might meet new people with similar interests. For example, sign up for a softball team, attend a yoga studio or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Head to your neighborhood pub and challenge someone to a friendly game of pool, or bake your neighbor a plate of cookies for a reason to stop by and say hello.
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