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Moving Anxiety: How to Make a New City Feel Like Home

by Louise W. Rice
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Some people spend their entire lives in the same city, state, or country. Others are like nomads and seem to move around every other year or so. The idea of moving gives many people anxiety because it means change and unfamiliarity with a new town and new people. For others, the idea of moving feels like a chance for a fresh start and is nothing but exciting.

Each of these feelings is valid, and many people have mixed emotions when moving to a new place. It’s true that moving can be stressful; you have to consider packing all your stuff up, saying goodbye to friends and family members, and leaving behind everything that has felt comfortable to you. It’s also true that moving is exciting; you get to start over in a new home, discover restaurants and coffee shops you’ll grow to love, and meet people you’ll never believe you survived without. Being simultaneously nervous and excited is normal.

If you’re a parent, you might find that moving is hard on your children. The good news is that kids are resilient and adaptable, and most will feel right at home after enough time has gone by. You can help your kids adjust to a new place by practicing a parenting style known as attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is simply being emotionally and physically involved in your child’s life every single day, and you can find more information about attachment parenting at BetterHelp.

Feeling at Home

Once you’ve decided to make the big move, there are several steps you can take to feel more at home in your new city. Transitions take time, and you may not feel settled for weeks or months. Making the best of the situation will ensure that you get the most out of the experience and adapt to the change with ease. You will likely have moments of loneliness, stress, or homesickness, but don’t let these convince you that you’ve made the wrong decision by moving. Here are some ways you can begin to feel right at home:

1. Decorate Your Space

While there isn’t always a lot in your control when moving to a new place, your home is something that you can control. Help yourself to feel more relaxed by making your space inviting and comfortable. Set up a game area so you can host new friends or a reading nook where you can sit and unwind after a long day.

2. Get Involved Locally

Whether you’re volunteering at a food bank, joining a local church, or getting involved in a hiking club, the important thing is that you’re getting plugged in with the community. Not only will getting involved allow you to see the city more, but you’ll meet people more easily (who often share similar interests).

3. Meet Your Neighbors

meet your neighbors

Within the first week or so of moving in, try going and introducing yourself to your neighbors. It’s common for neighbors to come to the new people in their neighborhood first, but don’t be afraid to begin the interaction if that hasn’t happened. You may even choose to bake cookies or brownies to bring with you to make the interaction even more pleasant. You never know when you’ll need a neighbor’s assistance, so being familiar (at the very least) is important.

4. Explore the City

Sometimes people move to a big city, and other times they move to a small town. Nevertheless, every place is still new and therefore has something worth exploring. You may just have to look a little harder in the smaller towns. Ask some locals to recommend their favorite brunch, coffee, or dinner places and where they like to go to have some fun.

5. Stay in Touch with Old Friends

While it’s exciting and inevitable that you’ll make new friends in your new city, it’s also important to keep up with old friends. Long-distance friendships aren’t always ideal, but technology does make it easier to keep friends even from far away. You’ll especially need your old friends those first few weeks and months as you adjust to a new place where you don’t know anyone.

6. Get Out of the House

It’s tempting to stay inside and watch Netflix or read, but you should try to get out as much as possible. If you had a favorite restaurant back home, try finding something similar in your new town. If you like thrifting, search around for a fun thrift store. The more you get out, the better chance you have of feeling at home more quickly.

7. Find Other Transplants

It’s unlikely that you’re the only new person in town. Sometimes people who have lived in the same place for a while have a hard time letting new people into their friend group. This isn’t true of everyone but can be common especially in smaller towns. In these instances, it’s easier to find other new people in town and befriend them first; you’ll be able to relate over shared anxieties, excitement, and emotions from your respective moves.

8. Volunteer

Finding volunteer opportunities around your city is a great way to meet new people while also giving back to the community. When you share a common purpose of helping people, it’s easy to make connections with those who have the same goal in mind.

9. Get a Dog

Dogs are great because they force us to get out of the house, get exercise, and meet new people. With a dog, you’ll likely end up at the dog park with other dog owners that you can meet and talk with. Or you might be out on a walk with your dog and run into another owner and their dog. Walking around the city to let your pooch out will familiarize you with the area as well.

10. Go it Alone

A lot of people feel like they need to always be with someone else when they leave the house. This isn’t the case. Don’t be afraid to be alone; it’s how you’ll meet new friends. Go to a yoga class, sip and paint session, or coffee shop all by yourself and see what new connections you can make.

When Will I Feel at Home?

There’s no set timeline for feeling at home in a new city. Some people are very adaptable to change, while others take longer to warm up. Be patient with yourself during the transition, especially during the first several weeks. You might experience a lot of emotional ups and downs that can leave you feeling worn out and unsure.

Try to avoid going home right away. Going home often can make it harder to feel settled in your new city. You want to give your new place as much of a chance as possible, so try not to squander that by reminiscing on the past. It does get easier with the more time that goes by.

Try your best to stay optimistic about the situation and don’t give up on your search for community. If you find that you’re struggling a lot with the move, don’t be afraid to speak with a therapist about how you’re feeling. You don’t have to face this big life event alone, so let others in when you’re feeling down. Allow yourself to move and adjust at your own pace, and you’re sure to feel at home in no time.


Marie MiguelAuthor Bio: Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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