Summer is officially here! I know when most of us think of summer images of swimming in the pool, beach trips, hiking, and going on family vacations come to mind.
But for a large portion of doctor’s wives, the summer season also means moving season. Whether you are moving for medical school, residency, or that first job, moving to a new city brings with it a lot of changes and a lot of stress. And a lot of the time, you are moving somewhere you didn’t get to handpick yourself. You are just grateful your husband got accepted to a program or was able to get a good job, even if the location is not your #1 choice.
I will admit I am not good at moving. I hate it. Yes I hate going through all of my stuff, packing it into boxes, and unpacking it in our new home. It takes FOREVER and is a lot of work. But my least favorite part of moving is adjusting to my new city.
I am not a very flexible person by nature. I am a planner and I get settled into a routine. I like to grow roots and get nice and comfortable in my life. So when I have to uproot my life, start over, and move to a new city, it’s hard and I dread it.
We have moved every 2 years of our marriage, and each move has been either to a new state or at least 8 hours away from our previous city. Even though adjusting to a new city is still my least favorite part of moving, I have learned to love every single place I have lived. I have been able to settle down, grow those roots, and call my new place ‘home’. It’s hard but it is possible.
Here are my tips for how to adjust after moving to a new city:
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR CITY
Find the Essentials
This one might seem obvious, but the first thing when moving to a new city is to locate the essentials. Nearby grocery stores, shopping (like Target and Costco are essentials for me!), post office, our church building, the library, the school, and parks for the kids are some of the things I look for. I usually end up going to Google Maps first to look for this information. Once I get to know some people in my area then I can ask them for the things I am missing, like the best places to eat, when traffic gets bad, or areas of the city to avoid.
Find the Fun, Interesting, and Must-Do’s
One of the best things about moving to a new city is experiencing the new things that city has to offer. Again, you can first turn to the internet for some tips. Just type your question into your search engine and tons of information will pop up. Pretend like you are a tourist and you will find some fantastic things to do. TripAdvisor and Yelp are some great places to start finding what makes your city fun and unique. You can also post your question to social media to get some ideas there.
But nothing can replace the tips and advice of talking to a real person. If you are moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone, chances are you know some people who used to live there. Contact them and ask them for advice. Ask them for the city’s highlights – the best restaurants, hangouts, family-friendly activities, date night locations, city events, etc. Most people love to share this information – they had to adjust to this city once too, and they grew to love it just like you will.
2. MAKE NEW FRIENDS
This one is hard and scary. Here a few tips to finding and making those new friends after moving to a new city:
One of the easiest ways to make new friends is to get involved in something. A great way to do this is get involved in something you are already passionate about. Do you love cycling? Then join a cycling club. Do you love reading? Join (or start) a book club. Want to find support in being a mom? Join a M.O.P.S. organization or a mom playgroup. If you want to know where to find these kinds of groups or find people who have your same interests, check the internet. Type it into a search engine, look for Facebook groups, or look on internet sites like meetup.com.
One of the BEST groups you can join is your medical association Facebook group! Almost every medical school or residency has a medical association. I have met some fantastic friends through my medical association. Join it even before you arrive to your new city and start making some connections.
Also get involved in your community doing service. I cannot emphasize this one enough! Doing something outside of yourself will help you feel better and grow as a person. Plus, the kind of people who are helping others are always so friendly and definitely the kind of people I want to be friends with. There are countless local organizations in every city that can give you the opportunity to reach out.
Take the Initiative. Be Brave.
This one is so important in making friends! Take the initiative. When you meet people, ask them for their number so you can arrange a meet up some other time. Be the one to invite that mom to meet at the park for a play date. Show interest in them. Don’t sit at home and wait for social events to happen – make it happen.
But you may be thinking, “That isn’t my personality. I am an introvert, not this outgoing person.” Guess what? Me too! I am totally an introvert. You don’t have to be this loud, super-outgoing and boisterous person to initiate something social. You can do it in your own quiet, introverted way. It still works and people will still respond to you.
And say yes to everything! If you get invited to something, GO. Even if you feel like you would rather sit at home and Netflix all day, just go. You may have been invited to something you normally wouldn’t do, but go anyway. (Unless, of course, it’s something illegal or against your personal moral compass, then it’s probably ok to stay “No thanks.”)
By accepting the invitation you are communicating to the person who invited you that you are interested in them and in their friendship. And whenever I get invited to something, I always thank the person specifically for inviting me and I let them know how much it means to me.
BE PATIENT AND STAY POSITIVE
This one is the hardest one for me when moving to a new city. I’ve heard from family and friends that it takes about a year before a new place starts to feel like your home. It’s true. This has been my experience with every single move.
I’ve lived in our residency city now for one year and I FINALLY am starting to feel like it is home. I finally feel like I have some true friends. I finally feel like I know the fun, local things to do and I look forward to doing those with my family and with friends. But all of this didn’t just happen with me sitting at home. I worked hard to invite, to get to know people, and to take time to get to know my city.
Just be aware that it takes time to adjust. Be aware that about 6-8 months in you may start to feel frustrated, like “What is the deal? I am doing everything I need to be doing to make friends and make this place my home but nothing is working.” It is NORMAL to feel like this and I’ve felt those feelings every single time. Work through those feelings and remember that it just takes time.
Be patient with yourself. Keep doing what you are doing and you will get there. You will grow those roots and start falling in love with your new home.
TREAT IT AS AN ADVENTURE
Like I said before, a lot of us don’t get to pick where we live in this medical journey. That can be so hard. Regardless if your new location is your #1 pick or not, treat it as an adventure. You never know how long you will live in your new city, so make the most of it! That’s what I am trying to do. We might not be living in our residency city when we are done, so I am trying to make the most of it while I am here.
**Picture from Unsplash