1. Choose Location Wisely
Some city commutes to work can be downright soul-sucking and even promote poor energy the rest of the day. As Citylab points out, you should be making at least 20 percent more than industry and city average to make commutes over 45 minutes worth it. Some commutes can be good for you though! Biking and walking can be extremely helpful for maintaining a healthy weight. This could replace the need for the gym if you’re only going for cardio, thus giving you more free time after work for exploring and meeting new people.
This will obviously depend very much on your city’s average weather patterns, transportation options, and the cost of living closer to work. But it’s important to remember your physical and mental health when deciding based on cost alone. Just because you can get a place cheaper doesn’t always mean it’s worth it. I get it though you don’t always have an option or the budget to live closer. In that case make sure to use things like Spotify and Prime Music for creating playlists, Podcasts and Audible to get caught up on books that will interest you. On average there’s 150 words per minute being read in an audio book. You could get through a new book every two weeks or so. Take some time to find books that will truly pull you in and help get your mind off the commute.
Of course more and more companies are seeing the value in remote workers every year, so if you can find a remote role then the stress of a commute is completely removed from the equation! If this is you be sure to read our tips on being productive while working remote.
It’s not always possible to actually visit before moving, but if you’re not too far away it’s a good idea to make a few trips to the area first. Visit during different days and times of the week. You may be considering a new apartment that seems chill, but it’s actually next to an early morning, weekend band practice space. Or better yet the parents on the floor above you like to put their baby out in the window cage above your room! 😉
2. Give the Building it’s Own Background Check
Do a few searches for the building name and owners, as well as the building management company. Look for news articles. See if the building is mentioned on Reddit anywhere. Some cities will have a central location to review issues and complaints for apartment buildings. Here’s one for New York City for example. Don’t forget about bed bugs too! Yep, there’s a bed bug registry for some larger cities here.
3. Should You Hire Movers?
Yes, next! 🙂
4. Should I Do The Move Myself?
Ok, I’m only slightly kidding with the short answer above. It can take a lot of stress off you and free up some time, but at the same time it can be a lot of work researching which company to go with. Depending on where you’re moving to and what floor you’ll be living on, you might not even have a choice but to hire a moving company though.
If you’ve got the time, not moving that far away, and you’re not moving into a high rise, then yes it probably just makes sense to rent a U-haul and take care of it yourself with family and friends. Just don’t be this guy:
If you’re going the movers route then you’ll want to begin your research early enough so it’s not a rushed decision. As you can imagine there’s countless horror stories out there about moves gone wrong.
Remember to never pay up front for a moving estimate, or pay cash at any point in the process, and always find a local moving company to provide an in-person estimate with you.
They need to walk your current home or apartment and you’ll be there to make sure they have a proper gauge on how much you have to move. The owner of TheMovingBuddy.Com held an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit and had a lot of great information to share. Like making sure to go with an AMSA mover:
“AMSA is the American Moving and Storage Association, so movers there will tend to be more reputable and have to adhere to additional standards.”
Another resource to check up on your moving company choice is FMCSA. And as their video below says, if a moving company doesn’t need to see your stuff before giving a quote it should be a pretty large red flag for you. So go ahead and use sites like Yelp and AngiesList to begin narrowing down your choices and then be sure to check up on them further using resources like AMSA and FMCSA.
5. Getting to Know Your City
Once you’ve gotten past the stress of where you’ll live and how the heck you’ll get all your stuff there, it’s time to get out and learn about your new city! A good place to check first is Reddit.
Reddit is known as the “front page of the internet”, and has been around since 2005. There’s a section, called “subreddits”, for every subject that you can think of. There’s subreddits dedicated to many major cities across the world.
Just hop on, do a quick sign up, search for your city, and finally subscribe to your chosen city’s sub. You can search for past discussions about the city in general, local events, recommendations, or just submit your own posts asking for city suggestions if you’re not finding anything helpful in your search. Keep in mind too that many of the major city subs have dedicated “stickied” posts that are for users just moving/visiting:
Also try doing a search on the Apple, Android and Google app stores for city-specific apps that might keep you up to date on events, city maps and emergency alerts. Twitter is another method for being in the know by following official city accounts or just do a search on Twitter for your city. If all that fails every major city should have at-least something useful on their official .gov websites.
6. Making New Friends
My fellow introverts, yes do try and get out of your apartment! If you’re like me you’ll get to a point where you just can’t stand to stay inside any longer. Everyone’s different of course but you’ll probably have more fun exploring your new city with a friend or two.
Meetups. And what a surprise, Reddit comes through for us again for this too. Same process as above, jump into your city’s sub and search for meet-ups. If you’re not seeing anything think about hosting one yourself!
7. Safety in the City
Amidst the thrilling night life and endless amount of people to meet, there is, unfortunately, a higher rate of crime correlated with larger cities compared to suburban and rural areas.
This shouldn’t be a deterrent for the adventurous types who wish to experience city living, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. Preparation is key, and you should become knowledgeable in regards to safe city living before delving into this lifestyle (especially if it is entirely new to you).
Whenever you leave your home self-awareness is your best companion. The city is busy and bustling, and if you become distracted at the wrong moment, it could end in a dangerous situation. Keep your head up at all times — pay attention to the cars, construction, and traffic.
If it’s late at night or if you’re in a place you are unfamiliar with, be mindful of the people around you. Suspicious behavior, like following for long distances or walking too close, are red flags, and if someone is making you uncomfortable, have your phone handy and try to lose them.
It’s best to keep your headphones out (especially at night), keep distractions to a minimum (phone in your pocket), and know where to go for safety if you need to.
Having a self-defense weapon such as pepper spray or a small taser can also benefit you in the event of an attack. Of course, you should never feel paranoid in a big city, but having a cautious attitude can prove to be very valuable in the long run.
If you live in a high-rise or apartment building, it’s important to note that your safety depends not only on you, but those living in proximity to you as well.
Events such as gas leaks, fires, and flooding can occur at no fault of your own, but can still directly affect you. This is why an emergency plan is vital for these types of living situations. Memorize your safety exits, be aware of those living next to you, and have a go-bag prepared in case of an emergency. Some items to consider packing are:
- A change of clothes
- High-calorie snack (protein bars or trail mix)
- Extra phone charger
- Small first-aid kit
- Water bottles
8. Ways to Save Money in the City
City living usually carries a high price tag, especially for items such as rent, food, and insurance. If you’re moving to a big city for the first time, you should always do your monetary research to avoid being shocked by your monthly expenses, or to find out if you can afford living in certain areas to begin with.
But don’t panic. Even with these higher costs, city living is still feasible if you manage your money appropriately. There are several easy ways to save a few bucks and your wallet will thank you!
Your restaurant options are going to be endless, but be sure to practice some self-restraint when it comes to eating out. It’s easy to latch on to your favorite sandwich shop or Italian eatery and find yourself going there several times a week, but in terms of money-consciousness, this isn’t the best idea. Cooking for yourself is not only cheaper, it’s generally healthier as well. Planning your meals on a weekly basis (especially meal-prepping) can save you time, money, and prevent those dreaded repetitious and boring meals. No one likes PB&Js every day! Mix it up, and don’t be afraid to try cooking new things. When shopping for food, be sure to look for the best deals, and use coupons (both physical and virtual) when applicable.
Roommates are a necessity if you are looking to cut down your rent costs. Studios and one bedroom apartments are much more expensive than multi-room apartments, and can increase your yearly rent amount by thousands — money you could be otherwise saving.
If you decide to live with people you do not know, be sure to meet with them beforehand to see if you’re compatible. Clashing personalities can easily put a damper on your experience. Make sure to draft up an agreement that all of you will agree upon and sign for proof in case of any major issues down the line. For even more peace of mind you could run a background check on your potential new roommates.
Entertainment doesn’t have to be pricey. When living in a popular city, there are usually free events that you can attend on a weekly basis; do a quick Google search and see what you can find!
Art gallery showings, improv comedy shows, or even a simple stroll in the park can satiate your need to get out of the house and do some exploring without swiping your credit card.
If you live a few minutes from your favorite attractions, it might be tempting to take a cab or Uber to get to these places. Try to avoid them if you can. Walking, biking, or using public transportation is a much better option, as even a $20 cab ride once a week turns into an $80 monthly expense.
10. Maximize Your Apartment Space
There is one characteristic of big cities that may not be so appealing for the claustrophobes out there—cities lack space. Unless you have a large budget to work with, your apartment is going to be on the smaller side, especially if you choose to live in a downtown area.
Luckily, with a little bit of cleverness and creativity, you can maximize the space in your apartment, leaving it comfortable, cozy, but not too cramped.
Firstly, organization is key. Having too much clutter can take up valuable space, so it’s important to categorize your belongings, have a place for everything, and keep your place tidy. Discard items you don’t need, and approach this from a minimalist perspective. When it comes to maximizing space, less truly is more.
Storage can be tricky since you probably won’t have a separate garage or sufficient closet space, but there are ways you can circumvent this conundrum. Consider purchasing a bed frame which allows you to put things underneath. Items like desks should always have drawers, and you can make DIY shelves (above you sink, for example) to place smaller items. Closet organizers are also a wise investment, as they can increase storage amounts.
Furniture, undoubtedly, takes up the most space in any house or apartment. Since maximizing space is the goal, you should try minimizing your furnishings. Do you really need two couches? Is that end-table serving its purpose, or should it find a new home? If you do your research, you’ll find several types of furniture designs that are multi-functional, like futons, for example. Just be sure to purchase full-size furniture, as smaller furniture can counterintuitively make a room feel shrunken.
The design elements of a room are also pertinent to its perceived size. Lighter colors generally make a room look bigger, and if you allow color to differentiate areas (different colors for different rooms), it can open up your living space. Adding a mirror can imitate space, and when you hang art or posters, put them as high as possible in order to create the illusion of a high ceiling.
11. Recharge Your Mental Energy
City living can feel endlessly loud and busy, so it’s important to recharge your mental energy on occasion. This is especially true for those of you who are introverted, as it is easy to become burned out when surrounded by so many sounds and people. As they say, the city never sleeps, and sometimes you just need a break from the rat-race—work, crowds, traffic and high-rises.
If you begin to feel the stress of the urban atmosphere pressing down on you, it never hurts to make an excursion out to nature. Some big cities are only a few miles from national forests and parks, and most offer sights like botanical gardens, aquariums, and zoos. A peaceful day (or two) spectating nature is a perfect way to unwind from a busy week.
If it’s in the budget, a spa retreat may be the most beneficial way to dissolve some stress (and maybe take a few knots out of your back as well). Although this is probably a rare treat for most, massages are scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, alleviate pain, and decrease anxiety. An entire spa day dedicated to your well-being can bring your body and mind back to equilibrium, preparing you for the busy week ahead. It’s all about balance.
Of course, there are other types of therapy you can try as well, such as acupuncture or float therapy, and it never hurts to give the more obscure methods of recharging a try. For paid services, you can always check sites like Groupon for specials and ideas. You never know what interesting things you will be able to find! However, it doesn’t have to take money to give yourself a mental boost. Conventional methods such as daily mediation and yoga can work wonders for eliminating the stress, and calming the mind.