5 Things No One Tells You About Moving to a New City

things no one tells you about moving to a new city boston

Up until two weeks ago, all of the places I’ve called “home” have been in the same 25-mile radius. Now, “home” is a small, third-floor walkup above an ice cream shop in Cambridge—vastly different from my comfortable house in suburban Maryland. It’s not that city life is something foreign, as I take a chance to visit metropolises every chance I get. But moving somewhere new, where I could count the number of people I knew on one hand, has been daunting. Before I made the move, everyone around me was offering their own two cents on what I should see in Boston and what I should know before moving. But there were also things people forgot to mention, or that took me by surprise. Here’s my rundown of the five things no one told me about moving to a new city.

You’ll adjust quicker than expected.

I’ve only lived in Cambridge for two weeks, but already I’m familiar with my neighborhood. I’m used to the quirks in my apartment (like how the lights for the bathroom are on the outside and how the wood flooring is uneven). I have a favorite neighborhood diner (Veggie Galaxy). I know which stores are open 24 hours (the CVS and a cute cafe called Clover) and I know the ins and outs of using the T (our subway system). Being thrust into a new environment forces you to learn and adapt in ways you might not have had to before, and you’ll be surprised at just how capable you are of establishing a new routine and adapting to a new lifestyle. 

boston cambridge charles river t subway window skyline
The view from crossing the Charles River on my commute to school!

Public transport is actually kind of great! (Until it’s not.)

I’ll admit: being able to walk into a hole in the ground and then arrive at my destination twenty minutes later is amazing. I use that time to unplug and crack open a book I wouldn’t have the time to read otherwise. But on the days when it’s pouring down rain, or I get stuck in the rush hour madness and the subway car feels more like a can of sardines, I miss having my own car and the freedoms it allotted me. However, I don’t miss paying for gas, so the subway wins this round.

Making friends is difficult.

I’ve never really struggled to make friends. It’s not something I ever had to worry about growing up. But I moved to Boston (barely) knowing three other people in the city. And so far, I’ve only hung out with two of them—my roommate, and my friend Amy. Boston is a huge college town, and everywhere I go there are students—but walking up to someone at the grocery store and asking to be friends isn’t something most people consider normal. Even on campus, people are studying or with their other friends and don’t want to be bothered. But, I’m branching out, joining a few clubs, and meeting friends of friends, so I’m hoping my struggle won’t last too much longer. 

cite bedroom fairy string lights polaroids window flowers
My oh-so-cozy corner of Cambridge!

It’s harder to leave your apartment than you think.

Especially when it’s 22 degrees outside and you’re tucked into your unbelievably cozy covers. I expected to explore the city and try out new coffee shops on a regular basis, but it’s so much easier to stay inside, brew some tea, and watch Smash reruns, because who wants to walk 15 blocks in the cold? While I have done my fair share of museum hopping and street wandering, it takes some convincing for me to bundle up and venture outside of my warm apartment. Still, I strive to go outside at least once a day—even if it is just to go grocery shopping and pick up some milk.

Not much about you will change.

There’s this romanticization of moving to a new city and reinventing yourself. While it is a great opportunity to start off with a clean slate and form some new habits, the chance that you’ll emerge a totally different person is slim. I’ve learned a lot about myself and who I am as a person when I’m not surrounded by people, places, or things that are familiar to me, but I think it’s just helping create a more detailed portrait of who I am, instead of painting a new one entirely. I will say one thing that’s changed is that I’ve already lost a piece of my heart to Boston—I’ve fallen in love with the community, the culture, the commotion—and that has changed me for forever.

What did you learn about when moving to a new city? Let me know in the comments below!

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More about Kelly

Hi, I’m Kelly! I’m here to give busy college students a guide to navigating the modern theatre world. I’m passionate about spreading my love of theatre, traveling, and trying new things.

4 thoughts on “5 Things No One Tells You About Moving to a New City

  1. Rene Carter

    I moved from a small town in Florida to Washington, DC at the age of 21. I had to learn to drive in crazy rush-hour traffic, and how to park in garages, and then be able to find my car when I I returned to the garage.


    1. Kelly

      Those are all such crucial lessons! I don’t have my car up here in Boston, but I have had to figure out the Boston public transport system!


  2. Javed Malik

    Hello Kelly,
    Let me share when I moved from Lahore, Pakistan to Washington DC, I was 28 years old had a nice job back home in Lahore but when I moved to Washington DC it was a completely new world for me, I had to take a job as a dish washer even though I had I was a college graduate, I only had one friend in city whom I stayed with for couple of weeks before I moved on my own and just like you faced some challenges and stayed focused to achieve my goals. The most important thing I learned was to stay positive no matter how many difficulties you had to face and you will end up being on the top. Don’t ever settle for an average outcome and remember Positive attitude is the key to success no matter how difficult the situation may be.


    1. Kelly

      Wow, Javed! Thank you so much for sharing, your story is very inspiring. And those are such important lessons! I’ll be sure to keep them in mind.


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