Moving to a Big City

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What To Know When Moving To A Big City From A Small TownBy Jessica Ryan, a moving industry professional, author and writer. Posted on Moving Guides

Moving to a big city is quite a challenge.

“I want to be a part of it, New York, New York” Frank Sinatra

Small town living vs big city living has been a century-old dilemma people inevitably face at some point in their lives. And while there is no absolute answer to this quandary, there is always a right solution for each specific situation.

Therefore, it may happen that the best choice for you under your current circumstances would be to move to a big city – for college, for a better job, for an opportunity to pursue your interests, etc. In such a case, you’ll have to get ready for one of the greatest challenges in your life. Whether you are thrilled by the idea of plunging into the colorful dynamics of big city life or daunted by the sheer size and chaotic lifestyle of the large metropolitan areas, the relocation will have a huge impact on your daily routine, your personality, and your mindset, especially if you are coming from a small town or a peaceful rural area.

To be able to overcome the cultural shock and build a successful and enjoyable life for yourself in the big city, you need to be well prepared – to know what to expect and how to deal with each and every quirk of the city.

What To Know Before Moving To A Big City

Whatever your reasons to move to a big city, life in the large metropolitan areas will challenge you in ways you never considered possible. From great cultural and ethnic diversities through incredibly high living standards to constant competitions for status and wealth, you will face a new trial every single day in the big city. This will help you grow up fast and find yourself, expand your horizons and achieve independence, self-reliance, and self-esteem, but will also make you feel like you’re drowning, losing your identity and your purpose, exhausted and empty.

So, why move to a big city? Here are some of the most essential pros and cons of moving to a big city to consider before making the decisive step:

Benefits Of Moving To A Big City

When moving to a big city for the first time, you will discover a whole new world of possibilities, potentials, and prospects.

Great Opportunities

Whether you want to advance your studies, improve your skills, enhance your professional expertise, acquire new abilities, expand your worldview, or pursue a specific passion, you will have the chance to do so in the big city. It offers numerous opportunities that you can never have access to in a small town – diverse career options, excellent educational resources, large consumer market, etc. There will be great competition, but there will be plenty of options as well – a lot of different colleges, companies, business niches, professional societies, artistic clubs, and so on, and so on. Whatever your passions, skills, and interests, you’ll be able to explore them and reach your full potential.

Endless Options

There are numerous advantages to moving to a big city.

Be careful not to miss the opportunity of your lifetime.

When you have just moved to a big city, you may be literally overwhelmed by the incredible variety of options available. There will no longer be just one of anything – one mall, one movie theater, one concert hall, one church, one library, one medical center, one restaurant, one pub, one night club, one main street, one park, etc. – there will be plenty of amenities and conveniences within your reach:

  • Enormous shopping centers will offer products from all over the world;
  • You will have Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Italian and who-knows-what-other type of food at your grasp within a 5 minutes’ walk or so;
  • There will be a different social event every second night;
  • The number of restaurants, bars, and night clubs will be larger than you care to count;
  • You’ll have a hard time choosing among the available cultural and sports activities;
  • There will be so many entertainment options at every time of the day and night that you’ll completely forget the meaning of words like “boredom” or “monotony”; and so on.

Entertainment venues, hobby clubs, recreational centers, green areas – the big city has it all. And let’s not forget about the top quality medical care you can easily receive in a large metropolitan area, but will have no access to in the remote countryside.

Cultural Diversity

When moving from a small town to a big city, you’ll find yourself exposed to a variety of different perspectives, values, ideologies, and points of view. The great cultural and ethnic diversity, typical for the megalopolises, will help you expand your knowledge of the world, learn to appreciate differences, and reject stereotypes.

More Privacy

The mere idea of having greater privacy in a place that is so much more overcrowded than your small hometown may seem ridiculous. And yet, when you move to a big city, you’ll find it’s true:

  • You’ll be anonymous – no one will know your friends, your siblings, your parents and grandparents, so you’ll not be compared to them, judged for their actions, or favored for their sake. No one will know you since you were a little kid, no one will know your past mistakes and achievements, no one will expect anything from you, so you’ll be able to start on a clean slate;
  • People won’t care about your personal life – if you bring a date home late at night, or break up with your years-long partner, or marry a person twice your age, it won’t be the chatter around town. Whether you are gay or straight, single or divorced, people just won’t care – as long as you don’t get in their way;Moving from a small town to a big city will bring radical changes to your life.The more people surround you, the lonelier you may feel.
  • Others will not find you weird – no matter what you do, there is a good chance someone else will have already done it or something even weirder. So, there will be no social pressure to conform to a certain behavior or image and no embarrassment even if you make a fool of yourself. You can say whatever you want, wear whatever you want, and be your most eccentric self without any fear of judgment. Differences are actually encouraged in the large metropolitan areas as they make for a more colorful and happier society;
  • You’ll be often alone – there will be so many more people around, but everyone will be wrapped up in their own worlds and will pay you no attention at all. Unless you have close friends or family in the big city, you may actually feel quite lonely and isolated amidst the big crowd;
  • You will find yourself and grow as a person – regardless of your age, moving to a big city will teach you a number of valuable lessons. You will learn to survive in the concrete jungle, find solutions even when there seems to be no solution, stand up for your beliefs, assert yourself, and peer at any event in your life with new perspective and heightened awareness. The competitive nature of the big city will provoke you to look for constant improvement and self-development, to achieve your best in all spheres of life. Your attitude will become challenge-welcoming and you won’t be held back by fears and doubts – you will have the chance to create the life you’ve always wanted for yourself.

Now that you’re familiar with the greatest advantages of moving to a big city, you may wonder about the possible drawbacks.

Disadvantages Of Moving To A Big City

When moving to a big city from a small town, you’ll find that life moves at a quicker pace than you’re used to. Everyone will seem to be in a rush and everything will happen twice as fast as it did before. While this is not necessarily bad, it may leave you dizzy and unsettled at the beginning. And it’s just one of the many not too positive differences you’ll have to face after moving to the big city.

  1. Higher cost of living. Life in the city is much pricier than life in the countryside, it’s a certain fact. Not only will housing, food, and transportation (as well as utilities, taxes, medical care, clothing and any other products and services you may need) cost you about twice as much as it did in your small hometown, but there will be too many tempting “opportunities” to spend your hard-money as well – pubs, theaters, museums, and plenty of other sites you’ll want to see, events you’ll want to attend, and activities you’ll want to participate in. All and all, it’s a lot easier to spend money in the big city than make it;
  2. Great competition. You may have been one of the few people in town to have a degree in electrical engineering, for example, but there will be hundreds or even thousands of people with such a degree in the big city. No matter what your field of expertise is, the competition will be enormous. So even though career opportunities in the megalopolises are much more abundant, diverse, and lucrative than in the countryside, you may have a hard time finding a good job in your new city. You should also bear in mind that you’ll face great competition in all spheres of life in the big city, not just job hunting – from proving to be the best dancer in your favorite night club to securing a better parking spot for your car;There will be some time before the quirks of big city life sink in.You thought you’d just make a quick trip to the store? Think again!
  3. Heavy traffic. It’s no secret that traffic in the big city is an enormous challenge – not only will there be tons of vehicles on every single street and traffic jams at every second crossroads, but the road layout itself can be quite confusing for newcomers and the traffic laws may be a bit different from the ones you’re used to. There will be thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists on the streets, there will be construction sites and closed roads, and so on, and so on. Not to mention that finding a parking place may take an extra hour of your time and plenty of dollars from your pocket every single day! You’re certain to become a fan of the public transportation system just a couple of weeks after your move;
  4. Safety concerns. Large metropolitan areas have become notorious for their high crime rates, surging homicide incidents, drug trafficking, alcohol abuse, sexual offence, gangster activities, and traffic accidents. Protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your property in the big city is no easy task – you need to be extremely careful, resourceful, and vigilant at all times and take efficient precautionary measures to secure your new home as soon after the relocation as possible;
  5. Lack of time. In a larger city, you will have to navigate your way through crowded places, fight for a parking spot, spend hours on the bus, wait longer in line, wait for a table in the restaurant, and so on. Time will become your most precious commodity – not only will you waste hours for your daily commutes and still longer hours for running simple errands as a trip to the store, but your days will be booked with appointments and commitments, morning till night, several weeks ahead and you won’t have a minute left to spare;
  6. Less personal space. You will not only have to settle for a small home in your new city (partly because of the high rents, partly because of the lack of spacious living accommodations in the large metropolitan areas), but will also have to accept that “close quarters” are the norm in a big city – the streets, the buses, the stores, every place you set your foot will be busy and overcrowded;
  7. Poor health. Pollution is a great problem in all big cities around the world. So is the lack of opportunities for outdoor activities and easy escapes to nature. The poor air quality, the chlorinated or impure tap water, the sedentary lifestyle, and the lack of greenery can easily result in allergic symptoms, respiratory problems, and various other health issues;

Needless to say, all of the above factors, combined with the hectic schedules and social pressure, typical of the large urban areas, cause plenty of stress and anxiety to big city people.

See our city moving guides for more specific information concerning the pros and cons of moving to various major cities within the country and useful tips for your relocation to any of them.

Be that as it may, every coin has two sides, so regardless of any eventual drawbacks, you will still have your reasons to try urban life and will probably still want to move to a big city. So, if you’re up to the challenge, it’s time to set your plan in motion – organize the actual relocation process.

How To Move To A Big City

When moving to a big city for the first time you need to know what to expect.

City exploration process, Part 1: Research

Moving to a new place is always hard – it takes you out of your comfort zone and turns your world upside down, no matter where exactly you are relocating to. Moving from a small town to a big city, however, comes with an additional set of challenges. And it’s not just the larger scale of life (bigger buildings + greater distances + more people = bigger ambitions + greater expectations + more problems) that you have to deal with when moving to a larger city. You need to make a cozy and comfortable home for yourself, ensure your financial stability, learn your way around, integrate with different cultures, comply with different social norms and practices, accept radical changes, establish new relationships, etc.

You suddenly wonder if this is even possible? Here is how to move from a small town to a big city and settle into your new life fast and easy:

Research Your New Area WELL

Do not just look for some information on the Internet – go some steps further:

  1. Contact family members, friends, colleagues, people from your home town or any other acquaintances you may have in the city you intend to move to and ask them for specific information and useful tips:
  • How much do they spend for groceries, utilities, gas, entertainment, etc. per month;
  • Which neighborhoods are safer, friendlier and more convenient in terms of local amenities, proximity to important places in the city, etc.;
  • Which are the best/most affordable places to shop, eat, practice your hobby, etc.;
  • What areas to stay away from;
  • What activities you can enjoy for free;
  • Anything else you need to know.
  1. Review different kinds of maps, get familiar with the infrastructure of the city, study the public transit system, and locate the most important places in the area.
  2. Research the available housing options and find a place you can afford even if you don’t have a stable income yet.
  3. Research your employment options (unless you already have a job in your new city, of course) and consider taking on temporary work, so that you can stay on your feet financially while you’re looking for a suitable occupation.
  4. Learn the local laws and regulations (the parking rules and traffic regulations, in particular).
  5. Get familiar with the etiquette and social practices in your new area.
  6. Find out what the weather is like in your new city. Learn the average temperatures for every month, find out what climatic conditions you can expect during the different seasons, and keep in mind that large cities usually create their own micro-climates (high humidity levels, additional heat from the concrete, icy sidewalks, windy corridors created by tall buildings and grid streets, etc.).

Plan Your Finances

Set your moving budget wisely.

Are you good at maths? How about financial planning?

In order to avoid financial troubles when moving to a big city, you need to get a realistic idea of how much you’re going to need for your relocation and how much you’re going to spend during the first couple of months in your new metropolitan surroundings:

  1. Make sure you have enough savings to cover your living expenses in the big city for at least four to six months;
  2. Find an affordable place to rent – make sure the monthly rent does not exceed 25% of your disposable income and do not forget about the security deposit, utility bills and maintenance costs when planning your housing expenses;
  3. Review your spending habits and make sure you will have enough money to provide for the essentials (food, gas, electricity, medicines) before you spend anything on entertainment, social events, and other desirable but dispensable items or activities;
  4. Compare different service providers in your new city and sign up for the highest quality services at the best possible price. Check if bundle packages are cheaper than getting single items;
  5. Find the most affordable places to shop after the relocation and take advantage of any discounts you can. RELATED: Money-saving tips after moving to a new city;
  6. Hire affordable moving services. Get several free moving quotes and compare the costs and conditions offered my different reputable moving companies. Make sure you ask for on-site estimates before making your final choice and book your move as early as possible to avoid paying extra for last-minute moving services. If you can, schedule your move for some time between September and May, on a work day during the second half of a month to avoid the peak moving season and busiest moving days (when the moving costs will be considerably higher).

Pack Smartly

Packing your belongings for moving is arguably the trickiest, most laborious and most time-consuming task ahead of you when organizing a residential move. If you’re moving to a big city, you need to take some specifics into account when packing your household items and personal possessions:

  1. Pare down your belongings to make your move easier and cheaper and your new apartment – clutter-free. Your living space in the big city will be quite limited and won’t be able to accommodate all your earthly possessions. You’ll have to sort out your belongings and get rid of everything you won’t really need in your new life – all the items that won’t fit into the available space; all the items that you won’t be able to use in your new surroundings; all duplicate, outdated or damaged items; all items that don’t have a very high practical or sentimental value, etc. The fewer items you relocate, the more breathing space you will have in your new apartment and the smaller your big city moving costs will be (the final cost is based on the total weight of your shipment).Packing for your bigi city relocation will be just a bit different from packing for any type of residential move.It’s time to pack up your life and take it to the big city.Have in mind though that buying new items for your new home will cost you dearly in the big city and be very careful when deciding what exactly to take with you. It’s a good idea to make a floor planof your new home and create a detailed inventory of your belongings at this stage of the moving process.
  2. When packing your clothes, take into account the atmospheric conditions in your new area and do not take any garments you won’t have a chance to wear, no matter how much you may like them.
  3. Get hold of quality packing materials and provide the best possible protection for your items as they will be transported through heavy traffic and most likely taken up into a high-rising apartment, which will put them at great risk. Disassemble any larger furniture pieces you’ve decided to bring along and pack them safely. Put everything that can be boxed up in boxes, so that it can be easily taken up to your apartment.
  4. Provide adequate moving insurance for your cherished possessions.

Hire Professional Movers

Unless you have nothing to relocate but personal possessions that can fit into your car or inside several suitcases, you should not even think about moving to a big city without professional assistance:

  • Driving a large and heavy rented moving truck along the busy city streets will be nothing short of a nightmare;
  • You won’t be able to find a suitable parking place and will most likely get a ticket;
  • You’ll never manage to unload your belongings and take them into your new home quickly enough without some help (there are restrictions on move-in/move-out times and access to the freight elevators in residential buildings in big cities).

The list of challenges and obstacles goes on and on. Your only viable option is to hire qualified city-to-city movers who have the specialized equipment (such as small “shuttle” trucks that can get through narrow streets where a big moving vehicle won’t fit) and the professional know-how required to safely ship and deliver your belongings to your new home in the big city.

Tips For Moving To A Big City

So, how to ensure the success of your big city relocation adventure and fit into city life when moving from a small town?

1) Take advantage of public transportation whenever you can;

2) Try out different routes to your workplace, your kids’ school, etc. to see which one takes you the least time and offers the fewest challenges;

Moving to a big city may or may not be the best option for you.

You will either love it in the big city or run head over heels back to the countryside – there is no “middle” way.

3) Remember that parking rules vary from street to street and read the signs thoroughly to avoid getting a ticket or a tow;

4) Run your errands at times when stores are less likely to be crowded;

5) Make reservations when you want to have dinner at a popular restaurant, especially on the weekends;

6) Be wary of pickpocketing when you’re in a crowded place;

7) Explore your new city and learn your way around;

8) Befriend your neighbors;

9) Use social networking sites to connect with people;

10) Join a local club, organization, sports team, or any other interest group where you can meet people who have the same interests and points of view as you do;

11) Attend social events, experience the nightlife, and participate in all kinds of activities that appeal to you;

12) Be willing to try new experiences every time you have the chance to;

13) Stay in touch with your old friends and family members back in town;

14) Start your day earlier and allow yourself enough time to accomplish your daily tasks without any kind pressure.