Adjust to Moving to a Big City

Edited by Batkingnz, Eng, Graeme, Lynn and 4 others

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Moving to a big city can be a shock, especially if you grew up in a small town or lived in a rural community. It's not just the sheer size that you have to deal with when you relocate to a larger city, there are things you have to contend with, like the increased cost of living, integrating with different cultures and staying sane in unfamiliar surroundings.

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If you're making the 'big move', or even just thinking about it, make sure you check out our guide to adjusting when moving to a big city.

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Relocating

The most challenging adjustment and most stressful time will be when you first move in and attempt to settle in your new environment. Read our tips and suggestions below to take the initial edge off of things.

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Discover the City

Find your way around and explore your new city. If you've lived in the same place your whole life, or even if you've moved between small and medium towns or cities, you probably didn't have a problem finding your way around. In cities like Los Angeles, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney etc., knowing your way around is important not only so you don't get lost, but also for your safety. Here's what you can do to make the process less painful:

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  1. 1
    Buy a map
    .
    You can buy a paper map booklet, or if you have a smartphone, make use of the built-in mapping software. Make sure you're always carrying some form of map when you're out in an unfamiliar city. Also, sitting down for a couple of hours and trying to get a general sense of direction and familiarizing yourself with your surroundings will be very helpful. You can achieve this with your maps, smartphone, Tablet, or even on a computer using pages like Google Maps to check out your surroundings with satellite, and in some locations, street level imagery.
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  2. 2
    Take a tour
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    If you're in a city that has any kind of tourism industry, book yourself on a city tour. Something as simple and inexpensive as a chartered bus tour around different landmarks and attractions will help you to familiarize yourself with your new home. Knowing a variety of places can also give you points of reference if you're ever lost or trying to find someplace where you need to be. Many large cities have the Hop On - Hop Off bus tours. They're on a double-decker bus. Sit at the top. Usually, the ticket is good for two days. There are bus stops along the route (they'll give you a map). You can get off the bus at any time, and then back on again. It's a fabulous way to see the city.
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  3. 3
    Talk with family or friends living in your new city
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    If you know people in your new city, talk and meet with them to ask questions and get used to your new home. Ask for advice on getting around, areas to stay away from, nice places to shop, where to eat, etc.
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  4. 4
    Join a church, theatre company, a volunteer group, book club - whatever you're interested in that will introduce you to like-minded people.
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Culture Shock

Most people associate culture shock with moving to a different country, but even if you're moving to a big city within your own country you will notice things are different, even down to the ways that people talk.

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Language

If you're moving to a different country, it's a good idea to know even the most basic phrases and words in the local language.

  1. 1
    Even in countries where English is an official language, there will be taxi drivers, bank staff, food staff, etc., with whom you may not be able to effectively communicate.
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  2. 2
    Make friends who you can practice with, or take lessons online with audio recordings, or with a paid tutor face to face
    .
    Even a one-hour lesson each week, and a lot of practice on your own will give you the words and phrases you need to communicate basic ideas and instructions.
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  3. 3
    Learn the local slang and colloquialisms
    .
    Even within your own country, there can be different words for common items and activities, so make sure you become accustomed to the local flavor of the language.
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Etiquette

Learn the etiquette and social practices for where you will be living. This will not only make others more accepting of you, but it will make you feel more at home too.

  1. 1
    Greetings
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    Learn the proper way to greet someone and the pecking order of respect. Asian countries are far more respectful of their elders than Western Cultures.
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  2. 2
    Gratuities
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    Something as simple as that various from culture to culture. In North American, tipping is expected - in some restaurants, it's automatically included in the bill. Tipping, however, is not common in the UK.
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  3. 3
    Dinner parties
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    If you're invited to someone's house for dinner, ask around about what's expected. In England, you'd bring two bottles of wine - one for the host and one for the table, and perhaps flowers, but in China, do not bring flowers, as the color of the flowers is very important, and you don't want to choose the wrong ones. If you're invited to a Middle Eastern friend's house for dinner, bring a gift, try your best not to use your left hand when you eat and thank them profusely for the copious amounts of food they made that you could never have eaten. In Iran, "thumbs up" is actually an offensive gesture.
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Finances

  1. 1
    The cost of living will be higher in a big city, so watch your budget if you want to survive
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    If you don't have work yet, make sure that you have enough savings to manage for at least four to six months or more.
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  2. 2
    Find an apartment or room to rent that you can afford, especially if you're not working yet
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    Don't worry if it's not your ideal place; it will be used as a base while you organize your life in the city.
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  3. 3
    Connect
    .
    Again, if you have family or friends in the city, talk to them and find out things like how much are they paying for groceries, utilities, and even things like the cost of parking or public transport in the city. You need to take all of these into account when planning your budget.
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  4. 4
    Interim work
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    Even if you haven't landed the perfect job yet, taking on temporary work can help you stay on your feet financially while you're looking for your ideal job. Waiting tables, bartending and general jobs in services and hospitality are a good way to make money, and they will also help you to meet new people and get used to city life.
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Moving In

If you're moving a lot of items like furniture and personal belongings to your new home, and if you can afford it, it's best to arrange for professional movers to do this for you. Not only will it take the work out of moving everything yourself, but it will take the stress out of packing, finding your way there and unloading, which is especially difficult if you'll be living in a multistory building. If you have a lot of belongings, but no permanent place to stay, consider putting everything put in storage. Selling your items can be tempting, but you might miss those little memories of home when you find your house or apartment in the future.

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Making Yourself At Home

Ninety percent of adjusting to the big city is getting there and finding a place to live. Once you have a permanent residence, things will naturally start to fall into place. Continue learning the language if necessary, but aside from that, the tips below will let you know what to keep in mind to maintain happiness in a big city.

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  1. 1
    Socialize, network, and make friends
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    The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. City life can be extremely hectic, creating a cycle of work, sleep and traveling to and from work. This type of lifestyle can leave you feeling drained, isolated and, in extreme cases, can lead to depression, making it more important to make friends spend time with them on your weekends or downtime.
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  2. 2
    Find a coffee shop or café
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    Go there as often as you can. Bring your laptop or tablet, and do some work. Become friendly with the employees there. Meet a few people. Become familiar with people in the café, and they will become familiar with you. You'd be surprised how much better you feel when you walk into that coffee shop, and they know your face and know how you like your tea or coffee. It'll make you feel welcome and comfortable.
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  3. 3
    Keep in touch with family back home
    .
    It sounds like an obvious one but it's something that's easily overlooked by people. With software like Skype, Viber, WeChat, Facetime, and even just the regular telephone. There's really no reason not to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Just being able to talk to someone from your hometown can give you a lot of comfort and a little "psychological rest" from city life.
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  4. 4
    Explore your city
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    After initially finding your way around, start to explore some places you haven't been before. Eat at a new restaurant in a different part of town. Although it can feel like you're surrounded by walls and cement, there's as much to explore in a city as there is in the great outdoors, and doing so will make you more comfortable and appreciative of your surroundings. Look at it as a great adventure!
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  5. 5
    Get out of the city when you can
    .
    This might sound strange, considering this article is to help you adjust to the big city, but it's actually beneficial to get out of the concrete jungle when you can. Take a day trip somewhere nearby, find a beach, or a camping spot for yourself, you and your partner or with a group of friends. This can give you the kind of break you need to re-energize, and it's especially important for people who have come from rural or low-density suburban surroundings. If you can't get out of the city, make sure to spend time in parks, reserves or other relaxing retreats you can find in the city. Nature always has a calming influence.
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Tips, Tricks & Warnings

  • There's no special secret to adjusting. Aside from using the suggestions above, just remember to stay positive about things. Focusing on missing your hometown or staying negative about city life will stop you from integrating and enjoying what the city has to offer.
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Questions and Answers

Moving to a big city - maybe it's a job problem?

I have just recently moved to Bangkok, where I am teaching English, but reading the tips on how to adjust to a city don't apply to me really I actually am quite happy to live in such a great city. I think it's more of a job problem. I've only been working there a week and I don't know what to make of it, but maybe I am being a bit hasty.

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Moving to a big city could bring about mixed emotions for different people. It might be an overwhelming feeling of both excitement and fear. The degree of adjustment varies from one person to another. Some people can adjust quite easily, while others find it difficult to adjust to a new environment. There will always be adjustments in all aspects of a move to a big city - physically, psychologically, socially, emotionally, and financially. Success will be determined by how effectively you cope with all of these changes, and how much support you have from family and friends. Perhaps you don't feel satisfied or motivated enough with the current job. You are right -one week at the new job is not enough time. You need to give it more time before making drastic conclusions or decisions. You are just starting to adjust to your new work environment. Everything and everyone basically is new to you so just learn and grow with it. It's really impressive that you are well-adjusted emotionally because the experience of moving to a big city seems to be a very positive move in your life. You need to be exposed to a variety of experiences and way of life in the big city to get the hang of it. You need to ensure you are safe when doing so, especially because you are new in your location. We'd also recommend you move into a neighborhood where you have some friends or relatives that you can go to in case of emergency or become your guide in getting around the new city.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Recent edits by: Alma, Nuance, Robbi

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