We've all got to do it at some point, leave the nest that is. Whether it's leaving home for college, studying abroad, or stating that grown-up job across the country. It's a scary and exciting experience, and it can be fairly overwhelming.
Ironically enough I've been wanting to put this up for a while, but I've been too busy following its advice. The roundtable strikes again! That's right, the lovely Maura & Julia are back and bringing their A-game advice.
Maura's temporarily relocated to Chattanooga, Julia's lived in NYC, and both have travelled abroad. I've lived in NYC for a stint and just recently moved three states away. So we put our heads together and came up with some solid tips for making the jump and moving out.
M: Embrace Craigslist - To find said dream space, I used Craigslist, which has never steered me wrong and I recommend it 110% to any web-literate person who has never sent money to a Nigerian Prince based on an email. Employ Google Maps, Google street view and the photos listed (yeah, you'll definitely want to go with a place with photos listed) to get a feel for the place. Think of your first email as a housing cover letter, but at some place fun to work that also wants to know who you are. If you can, try to make a trip to see multiple places and meet your potential roommates before going with one.*
*C: Thanks to Craigslist, some exchanged emails, and a coffee date I've got a cozy room in a house here. I definitely recommend it too - just be smart about it. And always, always, always use Google street view.
J: You need an inside source - This isn't easy to do alone. There's no shame in putting out an open call on socials: "I need recommendations for ___. Who/what do you guys know?" Are you a member of a giant national Facebook group? Ask there. Just wait - someone will know someone. And from there, someone might know someone who knows the perfect place for fresh produce, the how-tos surrounding local tradition, the tips for surviving traffic in the messiest parts of town.
Don't be afraid to go on friend dates! The "dater" might need a friend or exploring buddy, too. At the very least, you'll feel like less of a hermit. Pats on the back for being adventurously social, you adventuresome goddess, you.
C: Start with what you know - Maybe it's straightforward, but one of the best pieces of advice I received was to take the things I liked about Athens and search for them in Bloomington. For instance, Ciné's one of my favorite places, so I looked for a local art cinema. I'm a sucker for a good cup of coffee, so I scoured for coffee shops with solid WiFi. What I'm saying is draw parallels. It helps you narrow down what you're looking for by giving you something concrete to Google.
M: Research isn't just online - Alternative weeklies are a great place to start looking for things to do and places to go. And when you find a space you like, ask the people there where they go/do. All of my best finds have come from asking waiters, baristas and boutique workers where they like to hang. When they say "if you like this place, you'll LOVE ___," that's when things will go from good to great. And write it down!
Not only will it let the person you're talking to know you're serious about getting to know your new city (which comes with more candid suggestions and sometimes even an invite), you can revisit you list on uninspired days and show everyone how cool your moleskine notebook is.
Be a shameless explorer.
J: Go everywhere. Unabashedly. And not just the "cool" places, like bars and bookstore. Scope out every single grocery store and find "your" go-to market. Visit the local dentists and decide which dentist is "yours." This is all about making this place your own. Find a park, coffee shop (probably the most key decision, y'all), a hair salon, a sandwich spot. Since nothing is familiar, try everywhere.
C: This is my personal/current addiction. I'm about three weeks into my move and I can't get enough of checking out the town. From the Indiana University campus to the Monroe County Public Library, there's plenty to go around. Not to mention so many food choices! Like Julia said, it's great to find a coffee shop but don't leave out the other important go-tos. It all adds up to finding yourself at home in your new town.
J: Relish being alone & obligation free - For those of us who've grown up with multiple siblings, shared rooms, roommates and more, this might be your first time living in a single, grown-up place. Enjoy it! Do the things you only ever do alone. Cook Indian food and let the smell take over every room of the apartment. Blast your embarrassing playlists (the ones with code names in Spotify so no one else will see). Work. Write. Don't wear pants. Enjoy the feeling of being completely, utterly alone.
Never say no.
M: This is so crucial when you're brand spanking new. If you follow this rule, you'll have some awkward outings with coworkers, mediocre blind friend dates with people you only know from Twitter and spend lots of time wishing you were with your friends from home who actually "get" you. But! You'll keep moving (which is really critical when you're all on your own, new kid blues are real) and eventually, slowly, real connections will start happening.
My guess is that you'll be friends with 10% of the people you connect with in your first month in a new place. But when you start to branch out to their friends and then friends of those friends and then that cute guy who keeps playing Prince songs at the bar they brought you to, that's when friendships are formed. Just hold tight.
C: I just want to add that Maura is totally right. Being nervous about your newfound stomping grounds is just part of the deal. But as a hard and fast rule you just have to say yes. You don't want to fall in the trap of endless Netflix binges on the weekend instead of making memories with some cool folks from work. So stick it out through awkward blind friend dates and those early stages of friendship. Because you've got to start somewhere right?
M: Be really honest - Just listen to your heart in a really not cheesy kind of way and try to be kind to yourself while you're making a rough transition. If you need to get really dressed up just to read alone at a bar during happy hour, do it. If you need human interaction, beg someone to go to lunch with you and just flat out tell them you've been having a hard time. If you need to order a whole pizza and binge watch Netflix, there is never a time I'd not endorse that.
Also, these are the times online shopping was invented for.
C: At the end of the day it's just about making a life for yourself in this new place. Just remember that it doesn't happen overnight and that it's okay to be homesick or want some quality alone time. But don't let any of that hold you back! Embrace your new home and all of the great friends and adventures that come with the territory.