Yesterday marked one full week that I uprooted myself from Pennsylvania and became a Colorado transplant. This has been me every day of that week:
The decision to leave my family, friends, and home of 26 years was not an easy one to make, but for months I had been wrestling with two options: stay in my comfortable, familiar Pennsylvania home, or take the leap and relocate to Boulder, where gorgeous natural vistas and a variety of career opportunities in the outdoor industry awaited me.
The rational, risk-averse part of my brain told me to stay put and stay safe. The irrational part (which seems to run the show these days) quoted Nike and told me to just do it. So, once the housing situation was secured, I gave my two weeks notice at work, packed up the car, and drove to my new home in the Wild West.
I often see people moving to a new state to be with the guy or girl that they’re dating–which is fine of course, if that’s the direction your life happens to go in. And obviously, it’s much easier to make a new start when you have a built-in best friend. For those of us who are partner-less, however, this move can be a much more daunting prospect.
Where will I find housing that I can afford on my income alone?
Who will I know out there? Will I have trouble meeting people?
What will I do in my spare time when I’m not familiar with the area?
I knew that mentally, emotionally, and logistically, going it alone would be a whole lot tougher. But, as a lone wolf with an irritatingly persistent hunger for adventure, I felt the mountainous horizons of Colorado beckoning, and I couldn’t wait around for someone to embark on this new chapter with me.
To make a long story short, the past seven days have been full of adjustments, exploration, and excitement. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way about what’s to be expected when you move somewhere new as a single:
You have to do almost everything alone at first.
This is kind of a given, especially if you’ve moved to a place where you have no (or very few) personal connections. Buying groceries, exploring the local shops and cafes, trying out a new hiking trail…until you find your people, the beginning of your new life is going to be largely a solo venture. It might even feel a little lonely at times.
My suggestion: Recognize that this is a temporary, very normal stage, and embrace it! There’s a thrill in exploring new territory on your own. You’ll need to be extra aware of your surroundings when you’re by yourself, so it’s also a good opportunity to hone your sense of direction and people-watching skills. Eventually you’ll make friends who will accompany you on many of these outings, but try to enjoy this period of independently getting acquainted with your new city.
It helps to keep in touch with the folks back home.
Because this is the year 2019, it’s nearly impossible not to stay connected with friends and family. A daily phone call with mom and/or dad and regular text conversations with your best friends can almost make it feel like you never left.
My suggestion: By all means, don’t cut all ties to home once you’ve moved somewhere else–call, text, and social media stalk your loved ones as needed. Just make sure you’re putting the same amount of effort into forming new friendships with the people you’re now living among.
Thriving in your new home takes effort.
Like I recently told my sister, I have been “aggressively assimilating” myself in Boulder since I got here. This has included visiting local martial arts gyms to see where I’d like to join (once I can afford it), connecting with the people I know in the area, going to a church service and signing up for a couple of weekly small groups, looking up interesting nearby attractions and hitting the road to check them out, etc. I moved to Boulder because I wanted to live my best life, and it’s entirely up to me to make that happen.
My suggestion: Don’t rush this process. Diving in too quickly can make you feel overwhelmed. But, not making any effort at all to get involved in your new community will have you feeling bored, isolated, and likely homesick. Stay busy enough to feel purposeful and productive without putting too much pressure on yourself to be an instant success in all areas of your new life. Sometimes I just need to relax in my room with a good book or movie, and that’s okay–I’m doing things at my own pace.
And last but not least, you may be approached by…interesting…characters.
There are some people who interpret a woman’s solitude as a cry for companionship, and they are quick to come to the rescue. Take, for instance, my recent encounter on Pearl Street Mall. I was strolling along, scouting out all of the cute shops and restaurants, when suddenly a tall stranger appeared by my side. The subsequent conversation went something like this:
“Hey. What are you doing?”
“Uh, hi. Going for a walk.”
“You new around here? What’s your name?”
“Rachel. No, I’ve been here a while.”
“Nice, nice. I really like your style. I saw you walking and thought, man, she’s sexy, I need to talk to her.”
“Thanks. I appreciate that.”
“Do you dance?”
“I dunno, you look like a club dancer or something.”
“What…Why would you ask that? No. I’m a kickboxer, actually.” [Was hoping this would deter him. It didn’t.]
“Cool! I did some wrestling in high school.”
“Listen, I’d really like to spend some time with you if that’s okay.”
“No, I don’t think so, sorry. I don’t know you.”
“Well, let me at least give you my number.”
“Don’t you want to put it in your phone?”
“No, just tell me. I’ve got a good memory.”
He told me his number, I forgot it immediately, and we parted ways. Now, I wasn’t traumatized by this event, but it did make me wary of walking around Pearl Street by myself. Unfortunately, it’s just one of the hazards of going places alone. (It’s times like these a “Leave Me Alurn” would come in handy.)
My suggestion: Not sure I have one. Maybe I should have just continued my lying streak and told the guy that I had a boyfriend.
This clearly isn’t an exhaustive list of what lies in store for singles who move somewhere new, but then again, I’ve only been in Colorado for a week. I’m sure I’ll have more things to add as time passes; for now, I’m just happy to be here.