Tips For When You Move To A New City

Especially when you don’t know anyone

Photo by RODNAE Productions

Moving somewhere new is disruptive at any age, whether it’s for a new job, further education, or simply just because.

There’s so much to uproot: routines, relationships, community, work, home, school, neighborhoods, culture, a sense of self and identity, and more.

For some, it may be the first time you’re starting a new adventure and leaving the one thing you’ve ever known.

For others, you’re moving right when you feel like you’ve only just begun to settle into your comfort zone as you got used to things in your current chapter.

Regardless, emotions run high. You have logistics to manage, farewells to bid, things to pack, sell, donate, or toss. It’s hectic, scary, overwhelming, and exciting all at once.

Been there, done that, five times growing up and twice as an adult.

Here’s my advice for when you relocate.

#1 — Focus on the basics first.

Establish anchor points in your new city.

First things first: identify your local grocery store, gym, school, or workplace in relation to your new home. 

Your brain needs to orient itself in new geography. Trust Google Maps to take you from place to place in the beginning.

When I moved for a new job in my early 20s, it took me a full year to grasp the lay of the land and understand where all the landmarks were in relation to each other. Now many years in, I don’t need navigation anymore.

#2 — Ground yourself in routine.

With all the newness around you, including but not limited to your new:

  • Job, manager, team, responsibilities
  • School, teachers, classmates
  • Neighborhood, city, home, neighbors, environment
  • Community, relationships
  • Financial situation, etc. 

It will be crucial to ground yourself daily with something you can fall back on.

For me, that meant showing up at work every morning, going to the gym afterward, and making myself dinner before winding down for a good rest at night. 

The daily act of showing up to do something helped ground me in the moment, and more importantly, distracted me from the overwhelm. Also, forcing myself to hit the gym every day after work helped my body release stress and endorphins, which I desperately needed.

According to Harvard, endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller and stress reliever. Adjusting to uncertainty is stressful, so do yourself a favor and pump out those endorphins through exercise, breathwork, or other activities.

#3 — Be patient.

If you’re moving somewhere with few to no family, friends, or connections when relocating for a new job, like me for instance, you’re going to feel lonely, and that’s okay.

Even if you’re moving for school, which comes with a built-in community, it takes time and patience to find your people and make new friends.

You are not alone

This phase presents an opportunity to reconnect with old long-distance friends that still bring value to your life.

How to find community when it’s not built into your environment

  • Find people with similar interests through a hobby-related group that meets regularly. This could be a yoga class, knitting group, book club, running group, game night, improv, or dance class. I’m aware of how I sound with these suggestions. Please don’t rub it in. 😂
  • Share your new move with your network. Consider whether you know someone who knows someone living in your current city who you could connect with. For instance, my cousin’s friend introduced me to her brother’s niece who lives in the same city as me. The niece and I made repeated efforts to hang out until we became so close that she gave a speech at my wedding. 🙏🏼
  • Join spaces like churches and temples if that’s your thing. I have no personal story or experience through this avenue, but I know people for whom it has worked.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll have to put yourself out there, be yourself, make an effort, and not force things while you maximize your chances of making friends. Show up to new gatherings and put out good vibes. It will be awkward and there will be flops, but the best things take time.

Closing Thoughts 


  1. Focus on the basics first
  2. Ground yourself in routine
  3. Be patient 

One last bonus piece of advice:

Practice gratitude for the little things that spark joy each day and be thankful for where you are in life. When you act from a place of loving kindness toward yourself and others, you will attract positive things into your life. 

Good luck out there. Have fun and embrace this new season of transition and immense growth. You’ll do great! I’m rooting for you. 

© Melissa Chanthalangsy 2022

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