I thought I would never leave Oakland.
After attending college in New York, Atlanta, and Florence, Italy, I came right back to my hometown—and I became too comfortable. So when the opportunity arose to leave and relocate further south, to Los Angeles, my feelings were complicated. While I badly needed a new start, leaving my comfort zone felt daunting: I knew Oakland inside and out—the side streets for avoiding traffic, the florists, the poppin’ bars and eateries.
Oakland raised me, but deep down, I knew my chapter with my beloved city was coming to a close. My soul was searching for grander opportunities and adventures.
Enter Los Angeles: A place I would often escape to for a self-care trip or work opportunity. But randomly hopping on 6:00 am flights from OAK to LAX to lounge at the Soho Warehouse pool on a tough day was starting to get old. I wanted my dream of living in LA to become a reality. But, I was paralyzed with fear. Every time I began to strategize my relocation, I stopped or put it off. I convinced myself that I was perfectly content in Oakland and that my community needed me here.
Ultimately fear wasn’t enough to stop me. I told myself, “You only need one day, one minute, where you choose empowerment over comfort. You can do this; you’ve done it plenty of times before.”
Once the decision to move was made, another hurdle presented itself: actually beginning the process. I found that tapping my extended network for insight was a good start. So in that same spirit, I spoke to experts in managing change, relationships, and new spaces to round up the best strategies for navigating a move.
To offer balanced guidance, self-healing educator Yasmine Cheyenne mixes professional expertise with her personal experience of moving multiple times.
“I know how stressful it can be to find your new coffee shop, make new friendships, and even figure out where your new hair salon will be,” she says.
Her suggestions for coping with the emotional stress of a new environment:
Reach out to your community
Ask your friends and family if they’re familiar with your new area, if they have advice on places to go, people to connect with, and things you can do. Don’t shoulder the burden of figuring out your new city alone if you don’t have to.
Give yourself grace
You can be excited about your move AND still have difficulty dealing with the changes. It’s okay to experience what you’re feeling.
With a new place to live, new city, and most likely new job, you probably haven’t had a lot of time to do things that bring joy. I invite you to open up your calendar and schedule one hour for something you enjoy. It could be spending time with a pet, going for a walk, or setting up your garden. It will help you feel grounded in your new space.
Franceska Medina of the popular podcast, The Friend Zone, is no stranger to self-care and self-advocacy. When it came to her cross-country move from New York City to Portland, she trusted herself and prioritized her peace of mind by investing in a quality shipping company to handle the packing.
“Anything you can do to help make the overall process easier on you physically and emotionally is a must.”
“I entertained leaving NY for many years before I did,” she says. “I knew the time would come when it would be an undeniable feeling of needing to relocate, which happened once the pandemic hit. From friends who had moved cross country, I knew that the most stressful part of relocating would be the packing and shipping. With that in mind, I paid extra for the shipping company to also pack everything in hopes of lowering our stress levels.”
For the transition process, Medina also offers this suggestion: “Make sure everything is folded, sectioned off, and organized ahead of time. The packers are only there to place whatever they see in front of them into those boxes. Anything you can do to help make the overall process easier on you physically and emotionally is a must.”
Holly Blakey agrees. As a professional organizer and the founder of Breathing Room, she’s learned that her job is much more manageable when her clients hire the right moving company.
Blakey also asks her clients these questions: “Are you looking for a moving company to move boxes and furniture? Or, do you need a moving company to pack and unpack your items in the new location? She adds, “There’s a big difference between the two services, and it’ll show in the final invoice.”
Referrals can help. “If you know someone who’s had a successful experience, that’s the best reference you could get,” Blakey says.
Blakey’s additional tips to avoid the pitfalls:
- Make sure moving companies have recent reviews on their website.
- Request a zoom call to “meet” and discuss any of your questions—you’ll get a good sense of what their interactions with you will be like throughout the move.
- Make sure payment is via a secure, accredited online service (not cash, and not all upfront!)
- Make sure tracking options are provided in the service.
- Make sure they do not use a broker—ensure you’re working with the company directly.
With all this in mind, don’t be afraid to take a chance on yourself and the new chapter of life that could be waiting for you. You won’t regret re-discovering your joy and peace.
Featured image: TONL