Chris Smith


Thoughts on life.

How to Move to a New City

TLDR: After living in 4 cities in 5 years I've learned some things about getting settled into a new city.  Mainly to focus on community and network first, start with low risk short term housing, and scale your investment. 

Gunslinger -

Gunslinger -

After building friend groups and getting settled in: Knoxville, Buenos Aires, Austin, Greenville, Long Island, Barcelona, and San Francisco over the past 6 years, I've banged my way through making friends, finding my community and getting settled.  I've had some anguishing weeks of boredom and loneliness that I've since learned to avoid while maximizing opportunities.

This article is to help you get settled in a new city as quickly as possible.

Moving to a new city can be scary and takes courage but with that leap there is an awesome opportunity for growth and reinvention.  There are a few main areas I find valuable to focus on initially.

Start with these 3 steps

  1. Find the communities you want to associate with in your new city (e.g. tech events, dancing, night life, outdoors, climbing, etc.)
  2. Find an area of the city that puts you near those communities/activities
  3. Choose low risk temporary options and give room for evaluation

Main Points

  • Being close to the things you want to do means you'll do them a lot more, meaning you'll meet more people with similar interests, an extra 10 minute bike ride seems minor but isn't 
  • It's critical you meet as many people as possible in the first months so you can get to a good core group of people
Relationships matter, when you have great likeminded people around, you don’t care as much about the quality of your apartment or the stuff in it. You get value from the people and experiences rather than the things.

Find and Map Your Communities categories categories

Use the following sites to find the people congregating around your interests.

  • Eventbrite
  • Couchsurfing
  • The Google
  • The Facebook

Once you've found the events, save each location onto your google maps.  When you search you can click the star icon to save them.  See image for example. 

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 1.27.57 AM.png

Star your top spots to get an idea of where to live.

Star your top spots to get an idea of where to live.

Which leads to map with all the place you want to be.  Now you know where to look for month-to-month housing. 







Find a place to live

Go for low risk and communal. 

You might not know much about the neighborhoods or the vibe of the city.  I've met lots of people that come in for a weekend and get locked into a 1 year lease because they want to get it the apartment search over with.  Don't do this.  It's a trap and the first 6 months in a place are extremely formative.

What I needed and what you might need: community, people, and a low risk way of evaluating options.  

Hustle your way into a low risk living situation

  • Craigslist - look for furnished temporary sublets
  • Start with hostels/Airbnb/couchsurfing if nothing else
  • Even better if you're in San Francisco try out communal living- it's cheapish but more importantly an incredible way to get integrated into the city
  • Buy as little furniture as possible the first couple of months
  • If you do buy furniture, get cheap stuff and sell it when you move
  • If you already have furniture leave it, sell it, burn it, give it away, "the things you own end up owning you" 

What then?

Ok so now you know who you want to meet, where you need to be to meet them and you've found some easy housing nearby.  

  1. Get social
  2. Go out as much as possible
  3. Always be closing, get new friends contact details and invite them to whatever next thing you are doing

At some point, you'll know what to do next.  You'll have met enough people.  You'll know the areas of town you like or don't like, the great restaurants and where the life of your community is.  Then you'll be in a good place to choose somewhere to get settled.




Chris Smithtravel, movingComment