Moving To The City? This Small Town Gal Has Wisdom For You
PHOTOS BY JOSH CAMPBELL
This is the fourth in our “Dear Zipcar” series, where we take members’ questions, then tap into our employee knowledge base to share expertise. Got a city-living question of your own? Ask us in the comments below, and you just may see it in a future post.
Dear Zipcar, I’m graduating college soon and I plan on moving into the city. After growing up in a small town, I’m excited, but there’s one catch—I don’t know anyone there! How can I find community in a big city? Signed, Solo in the City
Hi Solo in the City,
I grew up in Fergus Falls, MN, a big vacation hotspot (sigh—actually, a tiny rural town of 13,000 people), so I know how you feel. After I graduated George Washington University in Washington, D.C., I got a job offer in Boston and moved here knowing only one person in the city.
The key is to embrace the differences instead of making them obstacles. Enjoy the new opportunities and value the fresh perspective that you bring to the table. After eight years, I’m still thankful I made the leap! Check out more of my city living tips below.
In small town solidarity, Jessica Geisinger Zipcar Product Innovation Manager
1) Choose a neighborhood based on research, not just rent.
I found housing without reading much about the area and ended up outside of an ideal region. Of course, you want something affordable, but it’s also important to check nearby transportation options, neighborhood safety, and the distance to the nearest grocery store. Look it up on WalkScore. If possible, find a month-to-month or summer sublet option that doesn’t tie you in for a full year. That way, if it doesn’t work out or it ends up involving an awful commute, you can move.
Next stop: your new life in the big city. Check out public transit before settling down.
2) It is possible to find good roommates on Craigslist!
There can be some challenges in finding a good match for an apartment, but Craigslist is still a good resource. Make sure you talk to potential roommates and get to know them before accepting a room. Meet them somewhere close to the apartment or set up a Skype meeting with them to learn about their lifestyles.
3) Make friends at work.
This is one of your most immediate networks in a new city, so use it to your advantage. Socialize after work—not just to get to know your cubicle neighbors better, but to meet their friends and get to know people from other departments. Many people are happy to be your mentor, even if your job doesn’t have an official mentorship program.
Join the softball team or book club, even if the activity isn’t one of your favorite hobbies. I’m not sporty at all, but I followed a coworker to a softball practice and ended up having a great time. Another easy channel is to bond with other people that grew up out-of-state. You have something in common right off the bat, and they’ll have tips for you to settle in.
From colleague to softball league: making friends at work is a natural transition.
4) Explore the city. All of it.
It’s easy to stick to one area of the city, since that’s where you first become comfortable, but there is so much more to see. Try out new restaurants, learn the history, or find comedy clubs or theaters. I was able to embrace so many new kinds of cuisine—Indian, Thai, food trucks—that weren’t available in my hometown. I’m not sure I could go back now! Sporting events are also a great social gathering.
Having family or friends come to visit is a great excuse to do some of the more touristy things, like bus tours or museums, if you’re not likely to visit on your own. Either way, it’ll make you feel more at home in your new city.
If all else fails: food. Try out different restaurants and food trucks to see what the city has to offer.
5) Road trip to surrounding areas.
Of course, it’s also helpful to get out of the city! I had never skied before, but once I moved to Boston, I picked that up and went on Ziptrips to Maine and New Hampshire. I’ve gone to Cape Cod and the beaches. Leaving the urban center helped me find areas that felt more familiar, but had lots of new adventures to offer.
Whenever the hustle and bustle gets a little too much, pack a bag and head out for the weekend.