About 14% of the U.S. population moves each year. The reasons are all different. It could be for a job, to move in with a roommate, or just for a change of scenery. So while moving may not seem that special, it can feel a lot different when you’re the one going through it.
There’s a lot to consider before you move to a new city, especially one with a more urban environment. It’s important to manage your expectations before you take the plunge and move somewhere new. It might not be the perfect fit right away, but it also probably won’t be horrible (if you’re moving for a job or some other life event).
Let’s focus on some of the things you should know before you move to the city, as well as how to turn your new space into your own personal getaway, and how to take care of yourself and become a part of your new community.
Plan Before You Go
The more you plan ahead of time, the better. If you’re moving into an apartment, do your research. Is the surrounding neighborhood safe? What sort of businesses are nearby that you could frequent? Are there any organizations or groups you could join to feel more at home?
As a black person moving into a busy city, it’s important to find places where you feel safe and can find a community to call your own. New York has rising murder numbers, Chicago police have been accused of being 14 times more likely to use force on a young black man than a white man, and 20% of all African American families in Los Angeles County (California) fall under the poverty level. While those stats aren’t meant to scare you, understanding the reality of urban environments across the country is necessary to keep yourself secure and to recognize some of the challenges you might have to face during a move.
Learn as much about your community as possible, but also take the time to learn about your apartment. Each complex has its own set of rules, and you don’t want to face a hefty fine or lose your deposit just by doing something as simple as decorating. For example, painting is a great way to spruce up a place and it can really change the look of a room. But some apartments don’t allow you to paint over their walls, at least not with certain colors. Instead, you might fare better by putting up wallpaper, which is fairly easy to remove as long as you do it within a few years. It also gives you an easy opportunity to change out the look of a room as frequently as you’d like.
As you’re planning your journey forward, make sure you don’t lose connections from your past, too. Relationships are important no matter where you are, and technology makes it easier than ever to stay in touch with people. So, ease yourself into this new life transition by staying in touch with people back home as much as you can.
Make Your New Place a Reflection of You
One of the best things you can do when you get to your new place is to make it feel like home. The average apartment size in the U.S. is just under 900 square feet. Surprisingly, some of the biggest cities have the smallest apartments, with Seattle topping the list for tiny living spaces. Before you even open a box, one of the easiest ways to feel more comfortable is to keep your normal routine, if possible. Wake up at the same time, enjoy your coffee or breakfast, go for a walk — you don’t have to change who you are just because you’re in a new place.
But when the time comes to give your space a facelift, there are a few things you can do to make it feel more like “you.” First, hang artwork that speaks to you. If you really want to bring the urban look of the city into your living space, consider some Faith Ringgold pieces for pops of color that will get everyone’s attention.
How you set up your furniture and decor will also help you to feel more at home. Though it gets stereotyped a lot, consider looking into the art of Feng Shui. It’s about arranging your belongings in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. In doing so, you can create better airflow and more positive energy.
Many people swear by its calming properties, so give it a try and arrange your belongings with respect to light and air. It’s also perfect for small, urban spaces because it encourages decluttering and minimalism. It can also help to give you a sense of tranquility that can distract from the city sounds of subways, cars, sirens, and people outside.
Take Care of Yourself
Even if you’re excited about your new place or the prospects of a new city, moving is stressful. In fact, a survey conducted by British energy company E.ON discovered that 6 out of every 10 people believe moving is the most stressful life event, followed by divorce or a break-up. That’s a pretty intense statistic, and based on the additional figures mentioned earlier, you might even feel more stressed during this move.
While you might not be able to avoid some of the natural stress that comes with moving, you can practice self-care along the way. Planning ahead of time should help you to alleviate some of your worries. But making time for yourself amidst the chaos of boxes and new routines will make you feel more at home faster.
For starters, why not find a local gym if you’re a fitness buff? It’s a great way to meet people, blow off some steam, and get more energy to start each day. There are black-owned fitness studios in major cities all across the country that offer everything from cycling and barre to boxing and dancing. Not into working out? Hit up your local coffee shop or find a barber or beauty salon that fits your needs. You know how easy it is to make friends while getting your hair done! Immerse yourself into your new community as much as possible to feel less anxious about the unknown.
Additionally, take care of your body. You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat,” but getting enough sleep and physical activity should be added onto that statement. While you might be tempted to dig into a pint of ice cream to ease your stress, practicing healthy eating habits now more than ever will help you to feel better. You might also want to try CBD oil or other products for stress-relief. CBD has many natural benefits, including:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Pain relief
- Clearing up acne
- Help with anxiety
Some people even take CBD oil to help them sleep, which can be helpful when you’re trying to get used to the nightly sounds of a new city.
Have a Backup Plan
Sometimes, moving isn’t all you expected it to be. Remember, managing your expectations is important, but you should never stay in an area that is unsafe or unwelcoming. Sometimes, it’s easy to realize you’ve made a mistake.
So, always have a backup plan in place in case you end up moving out just as quickly as you moved in. While it’s important to go into a move with a positive attitude, it’s also important to trust your gut and know whether it’s right for you.
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't frantically updating his news feeds, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the beach and read detective novels from the 1930s.