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What It Feels Like To Move Across Country

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Five short months ago, I moved from Boston to San Francisco in just a short three-and-a-half weeks’ time. While it was for a job, and not just to move, it was a big decision and one I didn’t take lightly.

It’s worth it.

Moving across the country was one of the most uncomfortable decisions I’ve ever made. But I kept thinking if I say no, I’ll always wonder what could have happened. I’m glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and I’m very glad that it led me to San Francisco.

I get to start a new life and live in a whole new world. There are new neighborhoods to explore, restaurants to eat at, wonderful weather and a melting pot of different people to meet and to learn from. My daily running route (which I can pretty much do year-round, unlike in Boston) takes me past the Palace of Fine Arts and gives me a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the beautiful Marina. I’ve reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and extended my professional network well beyond the state border.

But it’s hard.

I think what many people don’t understand is how hard it is to move to a new place. Many say, “What an adventure! You’re living in a new city and you have so much to see and do.” But in reality, you’re starting a new job, working crazy hours in a city where you know very few people.

When I first moved here, I was working steady long hours, making it hard to meet new people. Because I threw myself into my work, I would often get to the weekend and have few friends because I worked so late all week. I was always too nervous to make week night plans for fear I’d have to cancel because I needed to get something done at the office.

I often compare my time so far in San Francisco to the first few months at college. You’d see all of your friends from high school’s pictures on Facebook and they would be having so much fun. You thought they had found their best friends already and they were invited to so many parties each weekend. Now I see pictures of college friends who have moved to new cities, and it makes me feel the same way. Though in both experiences people are really only posting their fun times to Facebook, everyone is likely having some hard times scattered in there, too.

Since I moved, I have to realize that there is going to be an adjustment period, and that it’s fine I’m still living in it five months into being here.

It’s okay to miss home.

It’s really hard when you have to start missing stuff that you would have normally done. For me, it’s been family dinners, sports games and weekends with friends. This is hard on you, as the person who moved, but also hard on the people you left. Your friends and family who saw you often have to have similar experiences without you there.

To be honest, I had such intense homesickness this past weekend. All of my closest college friends – two of which recently got engaged- were all meeting up in Virginia to celebrate. Not only was I missing out on this fabulous weekend, but I had no plans. Saturday I split up doing laundry and going to the grocery store so that I’d have multiple things to do that day.

Most weekends these days aren’t like that, but they occasionally creep up on me. I have a few groups of friends I can call, but it was just one of those weekends where my friends all had other plans. Also normally, I would have LOVED a weekend in doing nothing, but it was because I didn’t choose it that it made me so frustrated and sad.

When I’ve felt sad and frustrated about my adventure, these are a few of the things that have helped me:

  • Get it out. Let yourself cry, but make sure you limit your sulking. Once I had a morning of homesickness, I let myself cry for thirty minutes and then made another plan for the day. Other times, I’ve given myself a whole day to just be sad, but that should be the longest you let yourself. Get out there!
  • Find someone who lived it before. Whether it’s someone in your city or somewhere else, it’s helpful to know you’re not alone in being frustrated. I have chatted with a friend I went to high school with who made a cross country move a few years ago about my experience. It was good to know that she had a hard time adjusting, but ultimately found a home.
  • Give it time. Just like in college, you’re not going to find your best friends overnight. Keep working at it and meeting new people.
  • Plans can always change. While I would definitely say to give it AT LEAST a year before moving again, know in your heart that you can always go home.

Have you ever moved across the country? What was your experience like?

Topics:

Social Media #Personal Relationships Career Path #Move Lifestyle
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This was a wonderful read for me! In July I moved to Kansas City from Portland, OR for a consulting position. Not only has it been hard to meet people in KC, but I travel Monday-Thursday for my job so meeting people during the week is impossible and I feel limited to work friends. It has been a definite challenge. The weekends can be so hard and I've had the "no plans" weekends a few too many times. I've tried to counter this by hosting my own potlucks, superbowl parties and general gatherings, even if I don't have a TON of people to invite. Good luck in SF! I agree that giving it a year is a must and by the end of it, you will be glad you stuck it out and definitely be happier than you were in those first few months.

This was a wonderful read for me! In July I moved to Kansas City from Portland, OR for a consulting position. Not only has it been hard to meet people in KC, but I travel Monday-Thursday for my job so meeting people during the week is impossible and I feel limited to work friends. It has been a definite challenge. The weekends can be so hard and I've had the "no plans" weekends a few too many times. I've tried to counter this by hosting my own potlucks, superbowl parties and general gatherings, even if I don't have a TON of people to invite. Good luck in SF! I agree that giving it a year is a must and by the end of it, you will be glad you stuck it out and definitely be happier than you were in those first few months.

I am also new to the KC area (though I only moved here from Iowa, not quite across the country), but I can still relate to this. Making friends post-college in a city where you know next to no one can be difficult. But I agree that things get better with time. Good luck in SF – I'd love to move there someday!

Madeline – not to be weird, but if you're ever interested in meeting up, I'm in the market for new friends!

...And then we go and get Osha and everything is right in the world! Great reminder: Things can ALWAYS change.

Like you, I moved out to SF from the East coast with no family or friends in California. I had a hard time finding friends due to work hours and just sulked the first few months. I eventually found a group of East coast transplants and started exploring the city with them. I even struggled with the workplace culture change. I feel like I'm a A-type personaility living in a land of laid back professionals. I remember the first time someone told me there wasn't a deadline for a report. I laughed thinking they were playing a joke on me. It's been a year and I'm slowly transitioning, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

This is great - thanks for sharing your experiences in such a personal genuine way. I may soon experience the same.... I'm currently looking for new opportunities in tech marketing in the San Fran area.... I'm an east coaster, but I know that career opportunities out there trump where I am right now.... and the nice weather year-round is quite tempting as well. I'm a bit nervous for a cross-country move, but your article gives me faith that I'll be okay.... and not alone. The last big move I did was to a new city for grad school, but being a student definitely makes it easier to make friends. That being said, perhaps you could sign up for a weekend course... I recently starting taking coding courses through the non-profit "Ladies Learning Code" about one weekend a month, and it has been a great way to meet new people who share a common interest and are just as busy during the week. Meet-ups are also sometimes good for people with similar interests. I wish you all the best, and hope you stick it out, and maybe we'll meet when I too take the leap hopefully very soon and move to San Fran!

Hello! I also moved from Boston to San Francisco last month. Here's a blog post I wrote about the move! http://alonewithacupcake.com/2014/01/24/an-open-letter-to-a-new-city/

I agree with everything you've said, there are good times and bad but most important it to give it a chance! It's hard to feel like you're missing out on family and friends back home, but you're getting to experience an adventure that is new people and culture, all while building a stronger relationship with yourself. So it's a trade off.. you can't have everything! Best of luck.

Thanks for sharing. I'm trying to work through a similar decision right now and this definitely helps!

This is so spot-on! I moved from Kansas to Indianapolis three years ago. I have had wonderful experiences and have met some great people, but I also struggle with homesickness and missing out on things from home. I'm always looking for people in Indy who are experiencing the same thing and are looking for friends :)

Maggie Collins
Maggie Collins

Although I'm not from the East Coast, the ship I lived and worked aboard made its' home port in Rhode Island which I drove away from almost a year ago. I left secure, federal employment to begin the adventure of grad school here in San Francisco, so I can totally vouch for the interminably long-feeling transition period! However, although it's tough between work and school to make time for the friends I've made here, my friendships are growing. As I settle-in to EVERYTHING being new (home, job, school, friends, city, etc.), it does get easier and better. Hang in there!

As an aside, if you're looking to extend your social circle/network of professional contacts, you might want to consider 85 Broads. Sallie Krawcheck ~ who's background is in Wall St. wealth and investment management ~ is the clubs' new Business Leader. Membership level/cost is evaluated based on resume. That sounds very dry, but the events are fun and informative and it's a terrific way to network with other local professionals and students.

Good luck in the Best City on Earth (I may be somewhat biased ;) )!

Maggie Collins
Maggie Collins

PS: my name's Maggie Collins. I updated my profile here, but, I'm sadly still named "Anonymous" in the comment I made above.

I moved from NYC to Austin a few years ago. I didn't know anyone there, was freelancing from home and was single. I felt so out of place, insecure and culturally disconnected. I wondered daily if I had made a mistake. Then an amazing thing happened. I hit rock bottom with the loneliness and I decided I had no choice but to make a life for myself there. I forced myself to talk to new people and put myself in new social situations. When I felt lonely, I would take a yoga class and go running at Town Lake or at the gym (I was in great shape!). I checked out a few meet-ups. I joined a co-working space and asked NYC friends if they could connect me via FB with any ex-Brooklyn people they knew in Austin. When I look back on those first 6 months, I grew a lot as a person and learned to be ok with "not knowing". Austin is, luckily, a friendly town but it was still an incredibly difficult time and I definitely missed my friends in NYC. It took about a year to adjust and I am SO glad now that I made the move and stuck it out. I found a new industry to work in that I loved (I was a fashion person in NYC who ended up in the video games industry in Austin)...and ended up meeting my husband there. All good surprises that would not have happened had I stayed in NYC. Currently I am contemplating another move and am weighing the pros and cons of a new adventure vs. having to build a new life again.

This is going to sound crazy but I'm also new to Kansas City! I recently moved to KC, MO from Michigan where I spent the last 8 years for undergrad, graduate school, and a job. I know what it's like to feel homesick and alone but those moments pass and in my mind any experience is good experience. Now I find myself in Kansas City and I'll be here for a year, after which I will hopefully make another move back home to California. Thank you for this article! It helps to hear what other people are going through.

Madeline and Katie-I'm also interested in meeting up! Let me know if you are up for it! Kansas City newbies unite :)

Great article Sarah! I'm planning my move from Sydney back to Philly. I've moved internationally a few times but this will be my first time doing it alone (scary stuff)!! I completely agree that weekends are the worst. When I moved to Sydney I made a plan to do one new thing a weekend and book in a coffee a week with the few people I knew. I ended up making some solid friends but reaching out to the same people consistently.

Hi Hilary! Our Indy Local Levo is FULL of fellow transplants, many of us whom have moved multiple times. I hope we can connect at an upcoming event!

Kristi Hyatt
Kristi Hyatt

i am in the same boat, my family which includes my husband and my 6 kids just moved from southeast texas to Boise ID. and so far so good, its been 4 months now and it has taken getting used to, being in the south all our life and then coming north, and then getting to know ur new state. We also did not have any family here. We have some close friends that live about 3 hours from Boise but no family. its been tough at times with my kids and the grandparents. i did have a job lined up when i got here tho so that was an easy transition. but was deathly afraid of not liking it and hating it and what if i can't stand it and then i can not afford to make the trip back to TX. so its been a big and costly undertaking, but so far so good, there has been some amazing ppl come across and the ppl in the community are wonderful and we have had more opportunity here than back home. We are still baby stages tho so we shall see, but i commend anyone who can do it. I also was thinking that if i didnt do it then i would never know. Four months in Boise and counting

Deonna McMahan
Deonna McMahan

My husband and I are planning to move from Michigan to California very soon. I've moved around a lot but never that far and my husband has only moved once! It's a big adjustment going through our things and downsizing! This article is helpful-especially because my mind has been going crazy trying to figure out everything it was nice to read about someone who has done this before. :) We're also taking Route 66 along the way. Thankfully my parents moved out to California 2 years ago so I will know them but I will be very far away from my friends. But I keep saying to myself If I have the opportunity to move, why wouldn't I? I can always move if I don't like it. I've also been blogging to for the first time to sort of organize my thoughts and (even if no one reads it http://outwest8792.blogspot.com/ ) I'll have it to look back on and be really proud of myself for taking a big leap. I'm 21 and I plan on my whole life being an adventure! I hope you are still enjoying SF - I won't be too far from there. I'll be happy to be close enough to visit that fun city.

Currently going through a similar situation. Moved from a small town in Kansas of about 3000 people to a suburb of Seattle, WA.

I had met my wife about 6 years ago in Kansas and she always mentioned and talked about her home in Seattle and the surrounding areas. Being a traveler I had always wanted to see the Pac NW and got the opportunity to do so when I helped a friend move to Kent, WA. I spent a week there and did alot of sightseeing by myself and really reflected on what moving would be like. My last day before flying back to Kansas I spent at the University of Washington campus and just sat watching the students interact and study on the grounds, watching the visitors walk the campus and take pictures. Seeing a mountain at sunset over a fountain deciding thats where I want my daughter to grow up.

My wife was thrilled and couldn't wait to show me everything we went back again a few months later to visit together for about a week and half. After telling her that I had basically seen a ton on my own we took that time to look at potential places to live. We planned and decided on Everett.

I had landed a job and moved out on my own living with my friend and decided to take the bus to work everyday, seeing that public transit was the norm. I used the public transit the entire time I was living with my friend taking me an extra 2 sometimes 3 hours to get to work and back out of my day. Going from a quick 5 minute work commute to 3 hours was quite the wear on me, but I think it didn't really occur to me as I with a good friend so the bad never really weighed heavily on me. My job was the same as it had been in Kansas except I felt more like a King. I felt as if everyone looked up to me or as if I had all this knowledge due to me being with the company for so long. Felt sort of surreal.

Went back home to finish the pack and start the long journey(drive) to Washington. Said my goodbyes to friends and family and it wasn't hard to say goodbye. Ya I felt the feelings of sadness but nothing really unsettling. Started the drive off on a bad note, the truck that was carrying our stuff had broke down before even getting out of Kansas. After spending a godly amount of time getting nowhere we decided to leave the truck and continue on without leaving my dad by himself since we had to beat my mom who was flying into Seattle 2 days from then. We got to a pass in Colorado around 10pm and got stuck in a blizzard 3/4 of the way through it before deciding we were doomed if we go any further and had to back track. We then headed south to New Mexico where we stayed the night a truck stop at 3AM waking up at 6 to start the next leg. After that it was smooth sailing and ended up beating my Mother's arrival hours before.

My parents saying goodbye was when it hit home. My parents were sobbing and crying and I tried to be strong and not show it but seeing their feels really hit the spot that who knows when I would see them again. We talked about the summer but who knows if that will actually be the case. Leaving my entire family and my wife gaining alot of hers was quite the shock. We moved with the intention of being completely alone and having no family on either side so we wouldn't feel isolated, we would just be there for eachother. That did not end up being the case. We ended up moving next door to her sister whom she had not spoken to for Months due to a fight and were not on such good terms, but has since become the sisters they should have been all along and i have grown to be quite accepting and caring for her and her kids.

The first month of being here was March. Seemed like all it did was rain every day and be overcast, which I was constantly told that it was abnormal and never does this. Only getting to see the sun maybe once or twice. At first it seemed as if that made me depressed as I was starting to question the move and if we had done the right thing. Had a huge fight about it and we got over it. My wife had a job that had fallen through so she was home without a job for the entire month of March and a bit of April so money was tight and we just kept saying we will get through this and so far its been ok. Today is Easter, now many people know that this is a holiday but some would count it as a small pseudo holiday if you will. My wife has me go with her to her(pseudo mom) house and be with her sister. What started as mini fight already only got worse. Emotions were all over the place, kids were pitching fits, attitudes were roller coasters, tears, the works. My wife left me in a living room to myself to talk to with her sister to a person whom I had only met once and after getting irritated with an awkward situation I finally calmly asked if she was ready to leave. After doing so she tells me that im really emotional and asks if im ok, to which I replied: you isolated me on my first holiday without seeing my family who hasn't said a word to me all day. I started crying on the drive home and she got upset saying how i should just move back then.

We got home and parked, we sat in silence for a bit and I told her that we would have to make arrangements for work since I was closing for 3 days and she got angry with me. So feeling like everything has amounted to me i got on my computer and started job hunting, maybe if i find a new job we can be happy. She tells me every day that she can tell im not happy and that I should just go back home. I dont know what to do. I have friends at work, I have friends around the area, I am familiar with Seattle, I don't understand. Is it the move, the area, homesickness, me>

If anyone has some insight or has something similar to this I am definitely willing to listen to anything. I don't necessarily want to leave my wife who is finally happy to be home just because I can't figure out myself. email me i guess. nitsudcooper91@gmail

Currently going through a similar situation. Moved from a small town in Kansas of about 3000 people to a suburb of Seattle, WA.

I had met my wife about 6 years ago in Kansas and she always mentioned and talked about her home in Seattle and the surrounding areas. Being a traveler I had always wanted to see the Pac NW and got the opportunity to do so when I helped a friend move to Kent, WA. I spent a week there and did alot of sightseeing by myself and really reflected on what moving would be like. My last day before flying back to Kansas I spent at the University of Washington campus and just sat watching the students interact and study on the grounds, watching the visitors walk the campus and take pictures. Seeing a mountain at sunset over a fountain deciding thats where I want my daughter to grow up.

My wife was thrilled and couldn't wait to show me everything we went back again a few months later to visit together for about a week and half. After telling her that I had basically seen a ton on my own we took that time to look at potential places to live. We planned and decided on Everett.

I had landed a job and moved out on my own living with my friend and decided to take the bus to work everyday, seeing that public transit was the norm. I used the public transit the entire time I was living with my friend taking me an extra 2 sometimes 3 hours to get to work and back out of my day. Going from a quick 5 minute work commute to 3 hours was quite the wear on me, but I think it didn't really occur to me as I with a good friend so the bad never really weighed heavily on me. My job was the same as it had been in Kansas except I felt more like a King. I felt as if everyone looked up to me or as if I had all this knowledge due to me being with the company for so long. Felt sort of surreal.

Went back home to finish the pack and start the long journey(drive) to Washington. Said my goodbyes to friends and family and it wasn't hard to say goodbye. Ya I felt the feelings of sadness but nothing really unsettling. Started the drive off on a bad note, the truck that was carrying our stuff had broke down before even getting out of Kansas. After spending a godly amount of time getting nowhere we decided to leave the truck and continue on without leaving my dad by himself since we had to beat my mom who was flying into Seattle 2 days from then. We got to a pass in Colorado around 10pm and got stuck in a blizzard 3/4 of the way through it before deciding we were doomed if we go any further and had to back track. We then headed south to New Mexico where we stayed the night a truck stop at 3AM waking up at 6 to start the next leg. After that it was smooth sailing and ended up beating my Mother's arrival hours before.

My parents saying goodbye was when it hit home. My parents were sobbing and crying and I tried to be strong and not show it but seeing their feels really hit the spot that who knows when I would see them again. We talked about the summer but who knows if that will actually be the case. Leaving my entire family and my wife gaining alot of hers was quite the shock. We moved with the intention of being completely alone and having no family on either side so we wouldn't feel isolated, we would just be there for eachother. That did not end up being the case. We ended up moving next door to her sister whom she had not spoken to for Months due to a fight and were not on such good terms, but has since become the sisters they should have been all along and i have grown to be quite accepting and caring for her and her kids.

The first month of being here was March. Seemed like all it did was rain every day and be overcast, which I was constantly told that it was abnormal and never does this. Only getting to see the sun maybe once or twice. At first it seemed as if that made me depressed as I was starting to question the move and if we had done the right thing. Had a huge fight about it and we got over it. My wife had a job that had fallen through so she was home without a job for the entire month of March and a bit of April so money was tight and we just kept saying we will get through this and so far its been ok. Today is Easter, now many people know that this is a holiday but some would count it as a small pseudo holiday if you will. My wife has me go with her to her(pseudo mom) house and be with her sister. What started as mini fight already only got worse. Emotions were all over the place, kids were pitching fits, attitudes were roller coasters, tears, the works. My wife left me in a living room to myself to talk to with her sister to a person whom I had only met once and after getting irritated with an awkward situation I finally calmly asked if she was ready to leave. After doing so she tells me that im really emotional and asks if im ok, to which I replied: you isolated me on my first holiday without seeing my family who hasn't said a word to me all day. I started crying on the drive home and she got upset saying how i should just move back then.

We got home and parked, we sat in silence for a bit and I told her that we would have to make arrangements for work since I was closing for 3 days and she got angry with me. So feeling like everything has amounted to me i got on my computer and started job hunting, maybe if i find a new job we can be happy. She tells me every day that she can tell im not happy and that I should just go back home. I dont know what to do. I have friends at work, I have friends around the area, I am familiar with Seattle, I don't understand. Is it the move, the area, homesickness, me>

If anyone has some insight or has something similar to this I am definitely willing to listen to anything. I don't necessarily want to leave my wife who is finally happy to be home just because I can't figure out myself. email me i guess. nitsudcooper91@gmail


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