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Coping with Moving Cross Country

Moving cross country is hard, y'all. And coping with moving cross country can be just as tough. There's so much preparation, planning, and energy that goes into moving. With all the activity before the move, it's easy to feel a little let down once you get settled into your new home.

Being separated by 1000s of miles from your support system can be challenging. But moving cross country can also be exhilarating. It can teach you a lot about life, your self-worth and your ability to withstand challenges.

Take it from me; moving cross country can shake you to your core. It can challenge your belief system, your faith, your self-confidence and your values. Learning to balance the emotional highs and lows of moving cross country can help make your move a success.

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How to Cope with Moving Cross Country

LA Was Out to Get Me

It was early September 2011. We'd just spent nearly a week driving across country with 2 pets in cars loaded full of my only remaining belongings. Surprisingly, we hadn't experienced any problems on our drive. And I'd gotten a job interview within 24 hours of arriving. I was beginning to think the stars had aligned to make this move a perfect success. Boy was I wrong!

My internal earthquake happened somewhere in Chinatown. I'd just finished the most humiliating job interview EVER. I was ashamed, defeated and deflated. And, Chinatown, for all I knew, could really have been in China.

Google Maps told me I was in Downtown LA, but my internal compass felt broken. It was as if I had no idea where I was or why I was there. So, when my car broke down in the parking lot right after the interview I literally lost it. I felt trapped in the exact moment when what all I wanted to do was to escape.

Sobbing hysterically in a random parking lot in Chinatown, I finally realized just how vulnerable my decision to move had made me. Suddenly, I was scared of the emotional fallout from being separated by 1000s of miles from my safety zone. For a minute it felt like LA was out to get me.

How i Got By

Luckily, it all worked out in the end. I didn't get that job, but a better job was just over the horizon. The car was fixable because we'd planned for emergencies by saving and budgeting. We had friends nearby who were able to house us overnight while the car got fixed.

I'm now forever grateful to LA for this, and many other, life lessons. My move helped me discover that I have an arsenal of internal and external resources to rely on in a state of emergency.

My crazy decision to sell all my things and leave home worked out in the end. This insane ride of mine has taught me a thing or two about coping with moving cross country. It represents progress and success for this small-town girl. And, four years later, I am here to tell you this: if I can do it, so can you.

Here are my best tips for getting through those hard times that come right after a big move.

Find Some Friends

Finding new friends is harder and harder as we age. But it's important to focus on making new connections and creating a new support system. Look for new friends at work, school, church, neighborhood events or places you frequent (pub, cafe, etc). Consider joining a sports or gaming league, enrolling in a class (cooking, photography, etc) or attending a meet-up. The possibilities are endless.

Learn the lay of the land

Get acquainted with your new city. Spend time learning the highways, major landmarks, and tourist attractions. Knowing more about your new city can help you feel more at home. There's nothing like that first time you DON'T need navigation. One of the things I did when I first moved to Los Angeles was to start creating a master map of things to do. It was a handy way to stay focused on learning as much as I could about my new city.

Create Comfort

Work to create a safe, comfortable sanctuary in your new home, apartment, dorm, or room. You will need somewhere you can find refuge in your new city. Spend some time organizing your things and decorating your space. Turn to thrift stores and flea markets for low-cost decor.

Stay Connected

Work hard to stay connected with your family and friends. Relationships require care and attention. While you are working to cultivate new ones, don't neglect the old ones. The relationships you have with your closest friends and family can be really important during a time of change. Use Skype, email, Facebook and Face Time to stay in touch. Or, put pen to paper old-school-style.

Get Creative

Stay true to you and what makes you unique. Focus on your hobbies and interests. Being creative can be curative. It can also be a great way to connect with new friends, colleagues, and your community. Moving definitely spurred me to dive deeper into photography. I spent a lot of time shooting my new city, and, in the process, I improved my photography skills.

Plan for Problems

Be prepared for bumps in the road. Stock your car with the things necessary to stay mobile. Think spare tire, jumper cables, a navigation system, phone charger, etc. There is nothing like a car emergency to remind you how alone you may be in your new city.

Get Involved in Your New Community

Learn something new about your new city. Turn to local newspapers, newsletters, community, and cultural centers or even the local library to find out more about things to do in your new home town. Sign up for email alerts, read flyers and listen to local TV and radio stations. Be on the lookout for upcoming festivals and events.

Stay Healthy

Take good care of yourself. Eat right, exercise and seek help with your physical and mental health when needed. Spend time outdoors, get plenty of sunshine, and challenge yourself to stay active. Change can be hard, even depressing. By taking action you can help to ward off the worries.

Practice Self-Care

Show yourself a little love. Be kind to YOU. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you feel good. Check-in with YOU and how you're feeling from time to time. Keeping a journal of your experience is a great way to reflect on your feelings and stay in touch with yourself.

Share Your Feelings

Many people get depressed after a major move. But there are ways you can take charge of your moving experience and ensure that you adjust well to your new environment. Talk it out when things get rough. Don't hold it in! Your family and friends may have been wary of your decision to move, but don't forget they are still there for you. If you are sad or lonely, reach out and talk with someone about how you're feeling. Getting it out feels better.

Need more Moving Tips?

Moving cross country has taught me a lot about myself and about big changes. Along the way, I've learned how to cope with homesickness. But preparing for a big cross country move was also a learning process, and so was moving cross country with pets. Don't struggle alone, my friend! Check out these resources to help prepare for moving cross country.

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  • Faye
    December 18, 2015 at 6:45 am

    These are great tips! It is so important to find a community – even when you have been living some place a while! All while remaining connected to friends back home. Love the infographic!

      December 18, 2015 at 7:02 am

      Faye, I could not agree more! My community has kept me sane out here 🙂 Thanks for your wise comment and your feedback. It was my first infographic, so I was pleased to hear that you liked it!

  • Els Mahieu
    December 18, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Great tips, I can totally relate. I moved countries, which in Europe is +/- the equivalent of moving cross country in the States. The job interviews, the look out for new friends, yep, it’s not always easy. But it’s a great experience to have!

  • Ty Wilson
    December 18, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Great tips! Step one will make the other steps and the transition as a whole so much easier to tackle. You cannot go at it alone.

    I just wish social media was around when my dad moved our family from Queens, NY to the middle-of-nowhere NC.I could have used a support system to cushion the culture shock blow.

  • Patricia - Ze Wandering Frogs
    December 18, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Hello from Oakland and welcome to California! Moved to new countries several times, the first 6 months are the hardest… Hold tight! But all good points in your post so lights at the end of the tunnel 🙂

  • duffelbagspouse
    December 18, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    This is great information. Trust me I know. I am a military spouse who has had to pack up and move across the country 4 times and across the world 3 times. We currently live in South Korea. I LOVE IT. I love the adventure it adds to daily life. Organization, open-mind, flexibility, patience and a sense of adventure are key.

      December 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      South Korea!!!! That sounds amazing! It does sound very adventurous. Moving can be such a pain but it does bring excitement to those who welcome change. Sounds like you do 🙂


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