January 3, 2012
It's not an easy thing to do – pack up your bags and move your entire life away from the only place you've ever known. But when you find yourself thinking over and over, “there's gotta be more out there than this,” finding that courage and motivation to move away can change the course of the rest of your life.
Maybe you've never left your hometown in your entire life and the thought of starting over elsewhere is appealing, yet soul crushingly terrifying. Too enormous a task to handle. Maybe you hate where you live with every fiber of your being, but your family is there and you can't bear the thought of leaving them. Maybe you aren't really scared of the concept of moving, but just can't find the motivation to get your shit together and just DO it already. How does one even begin? Well, I did it. And I can tell you that not one bit of it was easy. It was scary, I had no idea what I was doing and I had no clue what to expect at all. But was it worth it? Absofreakinglutely. Am I grateful I did it? HELL YES. Did it make me a stronger person? Duh. I can tell you that if there's a piece of you longing to move at all, you really should sit down and explore your options. The time is now. I'm here to share with you my story and hope that it can help motivate you to make a change in your life, if that's what you're looking for.
I grew up in Albany, NY and I always knew it was not the place for me. I hated the cold, I always felt like there was nothing to do, when I went out on the town I was constantly surrounded by college kids and felt like the oldest person there at the ripe old age of 23. All throughout college I knew it was only a matter of time until I got the hell out of there. I didn't know where – but I knew I wanted it to be warm and full of new opportunities. I constantly talked about it with my roommates and tried to encourage them to join me. After all, moving away alone to a place where I didn’t know anyone sounded terrifying – especially for an introverted person like me. They'd always agree that they wanted to get out, but it was obvious that the fire wasn't in their belly for it. So I asked myself, are you going to wait for someone else to change your life or are you going to go and do it yourself? The answer was obvious. I knew if I didn't make a change I'd grow up and still be sitting in Albany, wondering what would have happened if I just grew a pair and got out when I was younger, responsibility-free and able to. That was enough for me. So how did I do it?
Pick A Location
After visiting people in Los Angeles a few times, I realized I could see myself there. Beautiful, sunny weather year-round, a big city, tons of people, and the entertainment industry offered a lot of possibilities job-wise. I knew I wanted to do it, but this wasn't even on the same coast as where I was from. Moving across the country when I had never lived anywhere else sounded like an impossible challenge to tackle alone. But I wanted it so bad I knew I had to figure out a way. So I set things in motion.
Do Some Research
I knew I had to research companies I might be able to work for and reach out to my network to see if anyone knew people out there that I could talk to. I knew I had to research good places to live. This was all work that I did in my free time. Wikipedia is a good resource for information on a city, and you can also check out Craigslist to see what rent is generally like. I found a roommate through roommates.com, which charges a small fee for its services but I found it to be well worth it. Rent.com is also a legit site to apartment hunt. Salary.com is a great free service that can give you a general idea of what you should expect to make in your new city. Get ready to Google your heart out for awhile - but you definitely want to be prepared for what you’ll be getting yourself into.
I began waitressing on top of my 9 to 5 and stockpiled money. All my financial decisions were based around the fact that I needed to save every spare penny. No, I'm not going to go to 3 happy hours this week...I need to save that money. No, I don't REALLY need that $60 dress...that money could be going toward my moving fund. Having a decent-sized savings account can help get you started in a new city - you’re going to need enough for rent and a security deposit, plus enough to buy stuff for your apartment and get you by until you land a job.
Make a Timeline & Commit To Your Plan
I set a date and stuck with it. I told everyone I knew I was moving in a year. I knew keeping it to myself would give me an out if I got cold feet – telling everyone and then backing out would be harder to do. I was determined to make this change in my life. I had it in my mind that this was going to be a struggle, so I was prepared for it to be HARD when I first moved out there. Nothing this huge and life-altering was going to be a piece of cake. When I finally piled everything into my car and set on that cross-country drive, I was terrified. But I was full of hope, too! There were endless opportunities out there for me, and I was actually doing something about it.
I'm going to give it to you straight. The first couple years were very difficult. Making new friends in a new city is not easy, no matter how much of a social butterfly you are. It's going to take a while. Getting to know a new city, find a new job, find new hangouts, figure out the best places to shop, etc. etc. etc... all that stuff takes time. Unfortunately, there's no fast forward button for the obligatory adjustment period. If you're thinking about moving, don't do it if you aren't prepared to deal with some huge hurdles. If you do it thinking it's all going to be a breeze, you're going to pack your suitcase and go home with your tail between your legs in a week. But if you are truly determined and you have a game plan, have some money saved up, and are ready to confront challenges head on – you may be on the right course to change your life for the better. And ya know what, if after a couple years you decide this new city isn't for you, there's no law out there saying you can't go home. Even if you do, you can always say you tried – you did something for yourself, you had a new experience, you did something completely independently.
I promise you that no matter how it works out, you'll be a stronger, wiser person and have learned a lot about yourself and ...well, life itself, from doing it. You only live once, and you owe it to yourself to make this life as interesting and fulfilling as humanly possible. If not now, when?!