Make no mistake, relocating to a new city is stressful for everyone, even if the move represents a positive change in one’s life. It also doesn’t matter if you are moving across the country or across the world - the stressors are the same - although the degree and severity may be a different if our move brings with it big cultural differences.
Uprooting yourself from familiar places and people is never easy, and the challenges of adjusting to a new locale are many. It is also frequently filled with uncertainty for those relocating. Imagine everything you knew and relied on disappearing in an instant? This is the reality that many face when they choose to relocate.
- How much does it cost to live there? What can I afford?
- Which school should I send my children?
- Which neighbourhoods are right for my family and me?
- Will I make friends?
- Will my spouse find a job in his/her field?
As a relocation and settlement consultant at CityMatch, I aim to help relocating clients establish meaningful lives and a sense of belonging in their new city and remain focused on reducing the stress, anxiety, and pressures that comes with relocation. However, if you don’t have the support of a relocation specialist, here are some simple tips that may help keep the stress from piling up while also helping you ease into your new community.
1. Get organized.
I’m a big fan of checklists and action plans with dates. Be sure to make a list of all the tasks you need to do, then divide them into weeks, allowing yourself enough days to complete everything on that week's list. A quick search on Google for relocation checklists reveals a plethora of free downloadable checklists.
2. Hit the net.
Uncertainty and fear of the unknown got you down? It’s amazing what a little research can do to ease your anxieties. Most cities offer plenty of online resources to help with the familiarization process. Perhaps you can start with the official city website, the city main tourism sites that are available, the city economic development website the chamber of commerce website before moving on to exploring other helpful sites like neighbourhood association sites. If I was moving to London, these are the websites I would start with first:
- The City of London
- The London Economic Development Corporation
- London Concierge - A simple self-help guide to moving to London
- London Immigration Portal
Looking to do more lifestyle research, be sure to check out a recent blog post I wrote that provides some helpful links to websites about living in London.
3. Think positive.
Everyone loves the idea of a fresh start and this is a great way to look at the change. Moving to a new city offers up a fresh landscape and opportunity to meet new people and re-imagine your life and this can be incredibly exciting!
4. Join the club.
A simple online search clubs, classes, social and professional groups and places will offer easy and immediate opportunities to connect with new people that share your interests and passions. Most communities have plenty to choose from based on your interests.
5. Reach out.
Finding resources, like a great hair stylist, massage therapist, restaurants that serve awesome pho can take time but easiest when you reach out to the people you meet at your new workplace or perhaps through online channels. For example, in London, we are fortunate to have an active and engaged Twitter community that is always willing to help newcomers (just be sure to use the #ldnont) and we also have cool online community blog sites like Yelp and London Fuse that help people locate the gems and the find the inside scoop that many locals enjoy.
6. Involve the kids.
If you’re relocating with children, ease their stress by including them throughout the process. As much as it can be stressful to us as adults, relocation can be stressful for children too. You can help them (and by extension, yourselves) by getting them involved. Show them maps, get them involved in finding information, find ways to make it an exciting adventure!
7. Get in the groove.
Building a routine can really help establish a sense of normalcy when moving to a new community. Consider taking regular walks in your new neighborhood to help familiarize yourself with the streets and with your neighborhood. Or perhaps your regular gym routine can help structure your day while also helping you make new friends. If you’ve been looking for a reason to start a new habit, this can be a great time to do that.
8. Say yes (repeat often).
I’ve said this before and will say this again (and again). Seek out and explore new experiences. Instead of lamenting what you may have left behind, take time to seek out opportunities that are uniquely available in your new location.
9. Lean on me.
If you are relocating with your spouse or partner, it can strain the relationship. Perhaps you relocated because your spouse found a great new job but this has left you without work and the daunting task of finding a job and establishing a new professional network in an unfamiliar city? This is often a source of frustration and conflict for couples who relocate. So it is important to make time to connect, to communicate and explore the city together to help ease the pressure while also helping you make new friends in the process.
10. Feel it.
We know that relocation is stressful and that stress can be mild or it can be severe. Be sure to tune-in to recognize if stress is impacting you and your family. The signs of stress are varied but generally can be recognizable. Some people become irritable, impatient or exhausted while others may find themselves feeling moody or depressed. It’s normal to feel stressed but the key is to recognize the signs and to know that what you are experiencing is absolutely normal. Give yourself permission to be okay with the feelings that come, just be sure to make time to breath and to find opportunities to laugh.