Well my friends, I am a displaced desert flower. Yes, in August I made the big move from Mesa, Arizona to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania so that my husband can attend graduate school. Luckily I had six months to get used to the idea, but moving across the country can give you a shock of white hair if you let it. I personally get bored very easily and love change, so I welcomed a new adventure and a chance to “reset” myself. Things are going pretty well so far, so I thought I’d share with you some thoughts about preparation and how to use moving to your advantage.
Have a Vision
We started envisioning months in advance what we wanted our new life to look like. We both like things that are good quality, clean, and simple. With this in mind, we sold pretty much all of our old furniture because we weren’t in love with any of it. We scanned every paper we had and chucked anything that wasn’t super sentimental. I also downsized my closet and now have a small wardrobe of things I love to wear all of the time. We put our new life into four suitcases and haven’t looked back. We have the bare essentials, and cleaning and maintaining our micro apartment is incredibly easy! I feel like I live in a pristine little sanctuary that doesn’t suck my time and energy.
Set New Patterns
As life goes on, we naturally set daily patterns. Sometime the patterns become destructive or just not conducive to the person we’d really like to be. I really wanted to reset my life patterns, so I wrote down some things I could do before I even got to Pennsylvania. I set two big goals to train for a 5k and study Japanese every day. If I only set two, I knew I could probably meet my goals. Summer ruined my schedule, so I made it a goal to calendar every week to make sure I was spending my time wisely. I even schedule my relaxation and fun time. Use a move to make small course corrections, don’t let those old, bad habits follow you! I also thought about the attributes I could work on and envisioned myself doing those each day. I envisioned myself being outgoing and friendly and keeping in touch with family and friends through email and phone calls. It’s important to make a connection with people as often as you can so that you don’t feel isolated or depressed.
Getting a Job
Start looking for possible employers BEFORE you get to your new city. I only spent a month looking before I arrived in Pittsburgh, and I’m still in the process! Make sure your résumés are up-to-date and that you have a few varieties that can be tailored to different positions. I had to have a teaching résumé, performing résumé, and administrative résumé. Have all of your references called and their info ready to go. I suggest uploading your materials to LinkedIn and Google docs. This allows employers to easily upload your résumé and references, and then you don’t have to type up application after application. Have a list of potential interview questions answered that you look at and add to as you experience different situations at work. This will help you feel comfortable and practiced when your interviewer asks you those hard questions.
Picking a Home and Neighborhood Priorities
1. Safety—I wanted to feel safe going for morning or evening runs and walking to the grocery store and bus stop. I was not going to live in a cricket and roach infested home with the occasional skunk in the attic again either. I wanted to know that things weren’t going to break all the time and that mold wasn’t going to be an issue. Some people deal with these things and would rather have money to go out to eat every day. I would rather spend more money on my comfortable zen home and eat out once a month. Just ask yourself what you can handle.
2. Price—Look up the cost of living right away because you may have to get used to the idea that paying your current rent isn’t even close to possible in some cities. We researched places for many months writing down pros and cons for every place and finally settled on a brand new apartment complex. It was more expensive than we wanted to pay, but we knew it had good reviews and was only a year old. This meant we felt comfortable not spending a bunch of time and money to house hunt in person. We knew we’d save money on heating and cooling because of good, new insulation.
3. Travel and Transportation—We knew we were going to have to sacrifice somewhere in our budget if we wanted the more expensive apartment. We decided that transportation was a corner we could cut. We found out we could both ride a free school or apartment shuttle. The city bus system also works well, and we could use it if we got desperate. We also determined that we had three grocery store options within a mile of our apartment. This meant we could leave our car, pay a storage fee instead of insurance, bypass the expensive parking garage fee, never pay for parking in the city, and eliminate gas expenses. Save money and be forced to get in shape by walking everywhere? Winning!
There are of course many more things to think about when moving, but these are the things I thought about the most and really eased me into a new lifestyle. The idea is that you can have a fresh life and a new you if you want it. Really get in touch with the true you and figure out what you value and want from life regardless of what you think you SHOULD want or have. Remember to have joy in the journey!
Posted by Cecily Jorgensen