Moving Away from Home Was the Best Decision Ever

So, here you are: living comfortably in your hometown with the same old circle, minimal responsibilities, finishing school, a recent grad, or simply just feeling stuck and want a change. You’ve wondered what life would be like if you pick up and move to a different place. I have one question for you: 

What the hell are you waiting for? 

I’m a huge advocate for people moving to new places, even if it’s temporary. Hell, I’ve done it a few times throughout my twenties with no regrets. Call me biased, but I believe that moving away from home was one of the best decisions of my life. 

When Drake said, “What’s good at home? The same h**s is still at it, I should’ve known,” I felt that. On multiple levels. 

If you didn’t know already, I’m from Baltimore City. Eastside, to be exact.

I don’t need to say much, but I’ll say this: It’s a northern city with a southern feel—unlike anywhere else in the best ways, but much like everywhere else in the worst ways. 

Though there are some folks who thrive on being a “big fish in a small pond,” I can only speak for myself when I say that [outside some friends, family, and food spots] there’s not much to miss about living at home. 

Though I’ll always love my hometown and what it gave me, it became a boring routine.

It felt too small.

I was too comfortable.

I didn’t feel challenged to reach my fullest potential, and I would not grow until I stepped outside my comfort zone. 

Disclaimer: It’s not wrong to live within the same few hours or 50-mile radius for your entire adult life—it’s just not ideal for me. And if that’s the life you desire, then go for it. But understand that the following message is not for you. I’m talking to the bigger thinkers. The risk-takers. This is for the people, like me, who know there’s gotta be more to life than what’s inside the freeway and beltway lines. 

I talk about moving like it’s so easy, right? Well, trust me, it’s no small feat.

Relocation is among the top three most stressful experiences of anyone’s life. Leaving everything you’ve ever known to experience something new takes a lot of strength, grit, and PLANNING. 

Before you take the gigantic leap, please be mindful of the following things: 

Ask yourself the right questions 

Before you do anything, you should answer these questions: 

  • What do I want to do? Who do I want to become?
  • Will this new place move me closer to or further away from doing or becoming that? 
  • Do I know anyone who already lives in this new place? 
  • Do I want to keep my job, or quit and try something else? 
  • Do I want to stay in the same industry or switch gears? 
  • Will my [current or new] employer cover my moving expenses? (If not, am I willing to move anyway?) 
  • Am I willing to move without a job or housing secured first? 
  • If I need to save up money before moving, how much and how long will it take?
  • What is my backup plan for money if I cannot find an ideal job by my deadline? 

Here’s a list of more technical moving questions and lifestyle questions related to moving

Consider Your Expenses

Before you commit to anything, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your finances—past, present, and future. BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET! 

There are a lot of moving parts once you decide to move (no pun intended) so you need to document and keep track of costs.

Consider expenses like:

  • Shipping fees 
  • Hiring a moving company
  • New furniture and accessories
  • New electronics and appliances
  • Groceries and kitchen supplies
  • Packing and cleaning supplies
  • Transportation fees
  • Storage fees
  • Security deposit
  • Pet deposit 
  • Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance
  • & more!

Though cost of living varies from place to place, MyMove.com suggests using the 50/20/30 rule when moving. The 50/20/30 rule says don’t spend over 50% of your monthly income on rent and utilities, which, ideally, leaves 30% of your income for other living expenses and the remaining 20% for savings. For example, if you get $3,000 a month, then you should not be paying more than $1,500 for rent (visit mymove.com for more moving hacks you can use).

Since many people cannot find suitable “solo” housing for $1,500 or less in major cities like D.C., New York, or Los Angeles, for example, they opt to live with roommate(s) and split costs. Think: Instead of paying $1600+ for a studio or one-bedroom apartment, you can pay ~$1,000-1,400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate. You may be able to pay less than that in less populated areas.

You can find more extensive guides or checklists that will walk you through what expenses to expect and other helpful resources like this moving checklist from kerb.com. 

Visit before you move (if you can)

If you can, plan a visit to your potential new home for a week or two. Avoid the tourist-y sh*t and learn the city. 

Give yourself enough time to create a daily routine and see how you like it. Talk to the locals, transplants and natives. Get their thoughts on what life is like there:

What is there to do at night? On the weekends?

Food recommendations?

What are the different neighborhoods like?

Where are the good nail salons, hair shops, and beauty supply stores?

You know, the stuff that matters. 

Go see these things for yourself and put a “face” to the names you’ve been seeing while browsing online. 

Before I moved to Los Angeles for the first time in 2016, I stayed with a friend for a week in 2015 and experienced life as a local. Not only did the visit solidify my decision, but I could make an informed decision. It eased my mind that I wasn’t going into it blindly. 

Have a packing strategy

One of the worst things you can do is bullsh*t the packing process. You will regret it if you do. 

Depending on how much space and how much stuff you are clearing out, I’d recommend giving yourself at least three weeks minimum to pack your things and go. If you are working on an entire house, then I’d say even longer. 

To lessen the stress, it’s important to take it one day (and section) at a time. Schedule a “bedroom” day, “closet” day(s), bathroom day, basement d-…you get the point. Don’t overwhelm yourself.  

I recently moved back to Los Angeles from Washington D.C. during the winter, so I packed all of my summer clothes early, for example. If you cook a lot, like me, then leave the kitchen for later (but not too late).

If you know you won’t need to use something over the next month, then get it out of your face! Also consider shipping things to your new address in waves instead of all at once (but be sure to secure your location for early packages). 

Have Your Documents together (& Update Your Contact Information)

Moving is pretty much synonymous with chaos, so it’s easy to lose track of things within the madness. Make sure you can easily locate and access your important documents like: 

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • State ID/school ID
  • Social security card
  • Leasing agreement
  • Bank statements
  • Utility bills
  • Credit card bills
  • & more

Speaking of bills, remember to update your contact information and billing information wherever you need to once you have moved and confirmed your new permanent address. 

Be OK with Being Alone 

When you move to a place where you don’t know anyone, it’s normal to spend lots of time by yourself. Additionally, moving can tap us out financially, so you may just want to sit back, bask in the accomplishment, and enjoy the space that you’re pouring your money into. 

“I just got a new apartment. I’m gon’ leave the floor wet. Walk around this b*tch naked, and nobody can tell me sh*t.” -Ari Lennox

Between family and school roommates, I didn’t live alone until I was 25. Though it was only for about a year, I appreciate that time so much because it was quite the learning experience.

I highly recommend that anyone try living alone if they can because it’s

So.

Damn.

Freeing.

It also challenges us to deal with ourselves and figure out how to enjoy our own company. Speaking of dealing with ourselves, I want to make something very clear: moving away does not make our issues disappear. A change in scenery will feel shiny, new, and exciting at first, but our problems will always catch up to us. We cannot outrun ourselves, no matter how far we go.

One more thing: Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely! Call up your loved ones to comfort you or…make new friends! 

It Takes Effort to Make New Friends (Find your tribe)

You have to put yourself out there to make new connections, there’s just no way around it. 

Luckily for me, university culture helps A LOT with meeting new people. Within the first two weeks of grad school, I was able to make new friends who lived on my floor, were in the same program, or took part in the same campus organizations. I still have these friends to this day. 

If you’re not in school or don’t do the whole “hanging with coworkers” thing (don’t blame you), then consider joining a class, a gym, or anything where you can meet people who share a common interest. It’s not a full proof way to meet people you actually like, but it’s a starting point. 

You can also use this opportunity to connect with people through mutual friends or your “social media besties” in the area. Don’t be shy and slide up in those DMs (respectfully, of course).  

If It Doesn’t Work Out, SO WHAT?!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t end with this: you can always go back home.

If you move and things don’t go as planned, or you hate it, then that’s ok; never be afraid to hit reset at any point of your life.  

Relocating improved my relationship with my hometown. I smile when I visit home because I experience it from a place of comfort rather than a point of contention. 

I don’t have to live with “what ifs” because Baltimore didn’t confine me; it prepared me. I’m just out here floating around, but whenever I need to feel grounded, I know exactly where to go. And I’m so grateful for that. 

So again, I ask: What the hell are you waiting for? 

Get off of the porch and shake shit up. Step outside your comfort zone. Move away from home and take that step closer to creating the life that you want. You deserve!

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Written by: B. Sierra

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