How to Move to a New City

August 23, 2012

My friend, Rachel, sent an article to me today about moving to a new city.  It is very fitting for our very recent move to Texas!  Moving to a new city is on my list of hardest things to adjust to in life.  The physical move is the easy part:  the packing and unpacking.  The hardest part sets in when the unpacking is done and you are suddenly faced with how to lean into life in a city full of people you do not know and in a city you do not know.   

In terms of understanding this transition, I firmly believe the only way you can understand how challenging a move to a new city can be is to actual have experienced a move to a new city.   This article from Relevant Magazine, titled, “How to Move to a New City” is authentic.  It captures the reality of what it takes to get acclimated to a new city with these five suggestions: 

  1. Give yourself permission to grieve 
  2. Expect a Weird Neutral Zone
  3. Save up for the Essentials
  4.  New Relationships Take Time
  5.  God meets you in Transition
1) Give Yourself Permission to Grieve

When you move to start a cool new job, go to your dream grad school, or finally move into the same city your boyfriend or girlfriend lives in, you can’t help but celebrate.
The crazy part is that in the midst of celebration you can experience grief. But you’re not grieving because all this cool stuff is happening, you’re grieving because by hopping on a plane to take the risk of a lifetime you have to say goodbye to your old life.
In the midst of change—even good change—you need to give yourself permission to grieve. Allow yourself to mourn or cry. What you’re mourning is the people, places and things that you’ve lost and left behind. There will be deep stuff like missing your best friend and there will be stuff you didn’t think you’d ever miss like the local accent or your favorite Mexican food place. Grieving is acknowledging the pain of loss, calling it for what it is, eating the cake for dessert, then moving on and accepting that you’re life is different now.
Grieving is normal. It’s not weak, sinful, or weird. It’s human. It’s comforting. It’s part of Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. And it helps us to say goodbye to our old life and start our new one.

In the midst of change—even good change—you need to give yourself permission to grieve.
2) Expect a Weird Neutral Zone

There’s a billion little things you have to do when you move to a new city. Commit to a church. Find a job. Set up the cable. Change your address. Choose a grocery store. Arrange your furniture. Get used to your new work schedule. Make friends. Turn on the electricity. Impress your landlord. Ask around about the best Thai food. Find a Target replacement (if you move to San Francisco). Start working out. Learn when the garbage gets picked up. Get to know your roommates. The list goes on and on and on.
Then, there’s the weird neutral zone in yourself. You don’t know who you are anymore or how you relate to God in this new weird place, you don’t know who you hang out with or where you like to eat, you don’t know where you go on walks or retreat to when you want to be alone. The neutral zone is like the desert of moving. And it doesn’t feel like home at all.
With all the uncertainty happening around you and inside you, the most healthy, real thing you can do is ask God to make His home in you. He understands deserts better than anyone else.

To read the remaining insights ….  

We continue to lean into life in our new city a day at a time! 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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  1. Barbara

    Moving is right up there on the list of top most stressful things in life, right along with death of a spouse or job loss. It takes a long time to adjust to a new place and it is good to give yourself permission to take whatever time you need. Good luck!

  2. Claudia Uffman

    Becky I’ve been praying you through this move and the article is right on the mark! It still hits me in waves of grief sometimes, then other days are so wonderful I am overcome with gratitude. Keep moving forward into your new life. I’m super proud of you. Love, Aunt C


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