Moving: 5 Dos and Don’ts

When you’re in your 20s and 30s, moving away from your hometown seems inevitable. Whether you’ve decided to relocate because of a job, a relationship, a new opportunity, or just purely for the adventure of it all, any move can be a monumental adjustment.

So here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you embark on doing life in a new place.

The DOs


1. Be sure it’s the right decision.

Being hesitant about moving can be a major red flag. If you aren’t sure about moving, or don’t have to just yet, keep praying, keep asking advice from friends and mentors, and wait for clarity. If you aren’t confident it’s the right decision, when you do move, you will most likely evacuate or demonize your new city when times get tough.

2. When choosing a neighbourhood, do some research.

There are three things to keep in mind before picking a neighbourhood, particularly in an urban setting with lots of options.

  • Make a list of why you’re moving to this place. Work? Spouse? Dating relationship? Family? Adventure? List them in order of importance, and then try to live close to the items on the top of the list. If you move for a job but live on the other side of town, there’s a good chance you will end up being frustrated most days by your lengthy commute.
  • The neighbourhood may be trendy, but is it safe? You must be aware of your living situation before trying a daring neighbourhood. Do you know the neighbourhood well enough to truly evaluate acceptable level of risk for you? Look up some crime stats, and ask around. Then evaluate whether you’re up for the challenge.
  • Are you likely to make friends here? I once moved into a community where I was about 30 years younger than all my neighbours. They were lovely people and we made acquaintances, but deep friendship was tough.

3. Know your timeline.

How permanent is this move? Is it for school? Will your job likely re-locate you soon? Or are you moving because you want to settle down long term? These questions will help you to decide whether you should buy or rent, and whether you should invest deeply in your community, or prioritize work relationships over community involvement.

4. Move with a church or two in mind.

Before you move, do your homework and ask for references about local churches. Think about what theological beliefs are important to you, then look for a church you could see yourself attending that is in line with what you believe. Then, dive in. We are not meant to follow Christ on our own. We need people. We need a church to challenge us, equip us, and encourage us every week. Ask your current local pastor to assist you; he or she might have a few suggestions.

5. Be easy to get to know.

Think about your so-where-are-you-from-and-why-did-you-move-here answer. Be disciplined: think about a response that’s easy for people you just met to understand. This will make you more approachable and keep yourself from rambling. Because when you ramble, you can unintentionally come off as self-absorbed, confusing, or inaccessible.

The DON’Ts


1. Go back and visit.

If you visit the place where you moved from every second week, you might as well head back. Spend your first six months being present where you are. Let them be hard months, and force yourself to love your new place even when it’s difficult, and don’t fold. You can go back and visit eventually, but be warned: it won’t be the same. Things change, and everyone will move on and keep living. (To think it would be the same is narcissism! Resist!) This can be really challenging, but see it as an invitation to embrace your new life, and to not live in the past.

2. Talk about where you’re from all the time.

Your story matters, but mostly to you. Other people aren’t being selfish when they don’t care as much as we think they should about our former lives, careers, or cities; they’re just being honest. Instead, engage your new friends with conversations about your new city. If they have been there a while, they could be the ones that help you fall in love with it.

3. Throw yourself into doing a 100 things in the first three months.

It’s important to pace yourself. Be outgoing and selective, and do new things systematically on a big list of fun new experiences in the city. But focus on why you moved here before you join a dozen teams, clubs, or organizations. Making rash commitments will either burn you out, or as you de-commit from things, make you look flaky and unreliable to your new friends.

4. Live for what you moved for.

Friends, fitness, work, relationships, church, travel, and family are all good things, but living for just one of these things makes you weird. Eventually, we crush our idols (people) or they crush us (vocations). These aspects of life are important, but ultimately they will never satisfy us completely. Life must be multi-dimensional, with God at the centre of it.

5. Sideline your relationship with God.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus on your relationship with God when you’re in an uncomfortable situation. You’re especially vulnerable to unhealthy patterns and new temptations when you’re de-attached from the familiar. Being in a new place, uprooted from your old community, means having to intentionally set new rhythms. So use this time as an opportunity to exercise your faith. Listen to God, talk with Him, and proceed into the unknown with Him. You won’t regret it.

Photo (Flickr CC) by nikki.