My Experience Moving to Sacramento
Moving to a new city was one of the most frightening and exciting things I’ve ever done. When I decided to leave behind my friends and family in the harsh desert climate and pointedly beautiful Tucson, Arizona, I was scared, excited and emboldened. Leaving my life-long home I sold, donated and gifted all my non-essential possessions, packed what I could into my small-but-efficient Pontiac Vibe and headed for Sacramento, California. The less stuff you have, the easier the move becomes since many items can be easily replaced. Serendipitously, I was able to rent my house in Tucson to two friends, which made for a much easier transition. When I arrived in Cali, I had a blown clutch, a lust for travel, no job and a bag of dirty clothes. After a long bike ride, a homeless man mistakenly thought of me as a comrade, a humbling and eye-opening experience. My uncle and aunt took me in for a short while to help me get on my feet, and my girlfriend was unwaveringly supportive, as long as I found a job quickly. Moving to a new place can be lonely and it can be hard to make friends. Here are some tips to ease the transition:
Be Bold in your Job Hunt
The most common question I received when moving to ‘Sacto’ was, “Do you have a job lined-up”. I didn’t have a job, and my determination quelled my concern. To my surprise, all three jobs I applied for turned into interviews and offers in less than three months. While not everyone has a positive experience, it pays to send out your CV, be available, and be open to competing offers. Each interview is practice that can be applied to the job that you really want. It doesn’t hurt to take a “temporary” job somewhere, while you continue applying for a long-term position. After working at a place for two weeks, I put in my notice after a competing offer came in later than anticipated. This proved to be the best option for me long-term and I am now at a place I can see myself working for many years. When hunting for a job, don’t be afraid to take risks and show your potential employers that you will do what it takes to work efficiently and effectively. Embrace the change and sometimes the hardest decision you may have to make is which offer to accept.
Be a Tourist in Your Own City
Treat every day as an opportunity to find a new restaurant, or venture to that neighborhood you haven’t explored. Hike a trail that is top-rated and crowded, go to the most popular art museums, or take the train that only visitors ride because there will be plenty of time to find the “locals-only” places later. Pick a new place to go at least once per week, and either make new friends along the way or invite co-workers or acquaintances to join you. In my case, I toured the Capital building and went to several museums to learn some of the history and stories about Northern California. Bicycling is one of the best ways to learn a place and to get to know the sites, smells, and sounds. In May, I embraced Bike Month and challenged myself by riding over 150 miles, and this was a great way to get in shape and enjoy my commute. If your city has a bike share program or a public transit system, leave the car at home and ride around and enjoy the urban fabric as a local tourist.
Get Paid to be an Urban Explorer
Pick a side hustle to drive for a ride-sharing platform where you get paid to drive around and see your new city. This was a great way that I got to know my new city and discovered places that I wanted to go explore further and work on my navigation skills. On one ride, I even learned of an under-appreciated neighborhood right in the heart of Sacramento that I may not have discovered otherwise. It also gives you an idea of where the popular restaurants and activities are, and you may even make a friend or two in the process. If you don’t have a car, consider walking people’s dogs or some other way to interact with people in real life (IRL). You’re likely going to have some free time when you first move to a new place, so take advantage and build up some “fun money” in the process.
Don’t be Afraid to Go Alone
While safety is a top priority, don’t be afraid to go to a movie alone, or go for a short hike by yourself. This is a particular challenge for me because I like to share experiences with other people. Seize the opportunity for independent freedom and enjoy your time. For example, I went on a mountain bike ride in Forest Hill where I had a blast bombing down hills and I surprised myself by riding further than anticipated. Don’t be afraid to get lost, but also don’t be afraid to ask for directions. Going alone teaches you to be happy and content in the moment, establishes independence, and makes sharing experiences with others that much more rewarding.
Try a New Social Activity
Living in a new city can be a perfect way to redefine yourself or pick up an interest that you’ve wanted to try. While I have been reluctant to fully embrace the sport, I’ve dabbled in rock climbing at a local gym a couple times per month. Eventually, I look forward to climbing outdoors on some real rocks. Pick an activity that has a strong following and this will give you the opportunity to meet new friends, challenges you in some capacity and allows you to enjoy a common interest. Consider joining a kickball team, or other participatory sport where you get to know other people. The website Meetup is a great way to search for groups and other like-minded individuals who are friendly through common interests.
Take lots of Weekend Trips
When the weather is nice, make a list of places you want to go within a 2 to 4-hour drive. I’ve had a blast exploring the “Bay Area,” and I look forward to checking out Lake Tahoe in the coming weeks. In my case, I was not able to take vacation time within 6 months of starting work, so making small trips was a great solution to my summer travel itch. Take advantage of your location and find some nice little towns that help you get away from your weekly routine. Buy an annual pass for local or State parks and make it a goal to visit as many as you can within the first year of living there. My girlfriend bought me a National Park pass and we recently visited Yosemite in early July. On my drive to Sacramento, I visited Saguaro, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Sequoia National Parks. I look forward to checking out Lassen Volcanic next and I hope to visit 10 National Parks by the time the pass expires in November. There are hundreds of great locations within a 4-hour radius of my new home, and I look forward to exploring more places on weekends.
Homesickness is a real thing, but if you find things that you love and start to form new relationships at work or acquaintances, you will feel more grounded. If you feel sad or alone, change your scenery or go out and meet people. Drive people on Lyft or sit at the bar or a community table to chat with strangers. Not everyone you meet will be an instant best friend, but the more you interact with other people, the easier it will become to build your friend group. Remind yourself why you moved there in the first place, in my case to be closer to my girlfriend and for a fresh start. Moving to a bigger city means there will be more traffic jams, so be sure to plan and leave extra early for work to avoid rush hour. Uprooting yourself and moving somewhere is a big deal, so it’s all about finding things and places that make you happy and embracing change as a positive experience. Best of all, enjoy your new city, make sure to have lots of fun and live in the moment!