Moving can be downright daunting.
First, there’s packing (yuck!). Then there’s weeding through what to keep and what to toss, figuring out the logistics with the movers, and last-minute house repairs – just to name a few time-consuming things that make their way onto your seemingly never-ending checklist of things to get done before you move.
Not to mention the sometimes even more challenging aspects of a move: saying goodbyes, closing a chapter in life, and starting afresh. Saying farewell to the neighbors who are now friends. Saying goodbye to the place you once called “home” and wherein you made so many memories. Perhaps you’re moving away from friends, family, and co-workers. Perhaps you are staring a new career. Perhaps you’re moving to a new city altogether – a city that may look very different from the one you’ve previously called “home.”
Even if you are extremely excited and thoroughly anticipate what’s ahead, I’m sure you’ll find that a move is emotionally exhausting. And that’s true for just about anyone, even for those who are experienced movers.
Sean and I have moved several times during our time together as a couple. From each move, we have gleaned various lessons that have made each subsequent move more efficient and less tolling.
Where we have learned our greatest lessons, however, is not in our preparation FOR the move. But rather, our plan for what we want to accomplish AFTER the move in order to help make our transition into a new home, neighborhood, and at times – city, much easier.
I am excited to share some of these tips with you, which I will expand upon later on in this post. However, before digging into the moving tips, let me give you some brief background in case you are unfamiliar with Sean’s (my husband) and my story…
Brief History on the St. Germain’s
I grew up in suburban WI (just north of Milwaukee) and moved to St. Paul, MN in 2002 to attend college at Bethel University, where I met my studly Accountant/Comedian juxtaposition-of-a-husband, Sean (a born-and-raised Minnesota boy).
Sean and I met and were married in the “Twin Cities” (St. Paul/Minneapolis) area of Minnesota in May of 2008. Two years later, Sean was accepted into a Manager Development Program with Deloitte (his employer at the time), which uprooted us from the Midwest and planted us in New York (for a pre-determined three year period). After the program ended, Sean’s career led us to settle down in San Francisco in 2013; the city that we quickly fell in love with and now call “home.” Initially we settled into the Russian Hill neighborhood during our initial year in SF, only to move yet again and settle into our current neighborhood – the Mission District of SF.
More on Our Various Moves
During our first few years together in Minnesota, we had an established network of friends, family, and co-workers in whom we were invested and with whom we shared our lives. One of the things I miss most about our time in Minnesota is how easy it was to gather the troops and see the faces of my loved ones. Those random nights of calling my brother or sister-in-law at the last minute to grill out dinner together or watch a silly movie. Or rounding the troops to watch the Packers triumph over the Vikings (or at least I have fond memories of it going down that way – my MN pals may tell a different story;)). Or having folks over to our place to have a Turkey Fry, St. Germain Christmas party, or some other hosted event with friends and family (we St. Germain’s love to host!). These are priceless memories – and man, I sure do miss seeing the ability to see my Midwest friends and family as frequently as we were able when we lived in the Midwest.
We sincerely loved the community we had in MN; but we were also thrilled about the adventure that awaited us in New York. We had some hesitation to part ways with the Midwest because of the people we would be leaving behind; but fortunately, the realization that we would be able to leave behind harsh MN winters and the anticipation for living on the East Coast was enough to keep us motivated to take the leap into the unknown and a new chapter. 😉
I cannot even begin to tell you how much we learned, grew, and benefited from our time in NY. I won’t get into the details during this blog post; but simply put – we LOVED our time living on the East Coast, fell in love with NYC (one of our all-time favorite cities that we often travel back to for a visit), made wonderful life-long friendships, and were blessed with so many opportunities we would never have been able to experience had we not made the move.
From NY, we made our way cross-country to San Francisco (or as us locals refer to our city – “SF”). The transition pains of moving to a new city were not eliminated simply because we had done it before and were excited about living in California; but they were indeed alleviated by the lessons learned (and mistakes made) during our previous move to NY.
Lessons Learned: The Good, The Bad, The Beautiful, The Ugly
I can honestly say (now) that I am so grateful for both the “good and bad” that came with each move, due to the many lessons learned and for the ways we’ve been able to grow individually as a couple as a result of such life-changing events. As hard as it is has been to live at a distance from the close friends and family members and as hard as it was to build new friendships and connections in New York only to once again be uprooted yet again – I would not trade our experiences for anything. In hindsight, I can also see how God’s hand has been guiding us, making connections with certain individuals, and directing our path and life stories just as He intended.
There are so many “positives” we’ve welcomed into our lives as a result of our moves.
To name just a few: the many friendships we have gained, our current close-knit group of friends in San Francisco (our “SF family”) with whom we “celebrate life,” our community and close connections within our church (Epic SF), our love and commitment to our city and neighborhood (the Mission District of SF), the opportunity to experience the different cultures within the various places we have lived and traveled, amazing time playing “tourist” and also “living like a local” together with friends and family during their visits to see us in NY and SF, a love and obsession for travel, and the gift of being able to explore and call “home” various cities some people put on their “bucket-list” to visit during their lifetime. There are SO many blessings, it’s impossible to summarize them all.
But our moves have also resulted in many hardships and struggles that don’t often make the cut on FaceBook or other social media streams.
For instance: the uprooting of the close-knit-communities wherein we previously found solace, the days and nights spent mourning as we catch up on social media updates and see life moving on without us in the place(s) we once called “home,” losing connection with certain friends due to distance and time apart, having to start over in a new place without a soul you call “friend” or “family,” a period of time feeling like an “outsider” as you learn to acclimate to a new culture in the new city your mailing address now calls “home” (while your heart is still elsewhere), my inner-child’s lack of self-esteem bubbling to the surface as we walked into a room of complete strangers and wondered “Will any of these people like me? Will we ever fit in here? Will we have anything in common with these people? Will I ever belong?”…
There are many gifts and many challenges that come with any move.
In our experience, it has overall been an extreme blessing, for which we are so grateful. Having said that, with the benefit of hindsight, there are things we may have perhaps done differently, and there are things we have learned along the way that have made each subsequent move a bit easier than the previous.
With the hope that our lessons learned could impart some wisdom or help others avoid some of the same mistakes we made along the way, I wanted to share with you the following list comprised of some of the lessons learned. I believe this can be helpful to not only those who are in the process of moving/transitioning into a new community, but also for those who are simply looking to “dig their roots a bit deeper” in their current cities/communities.
5 Moving Tips to Make Your Transition Easier
- Seek connection, find your “tribe.” Yes, there will be a LONG laundry list of duties you need to tackle in order to settle into your new home and new city. But don’t let the busyness and chores distract you from the very important task of making connection with others. I recommend making it one of your top priorities. It can look different for each of us. Perhaps it means finding a church, joining a gym, making plans after work with co-workers. Perhaps it’s reconnecting with “acquaintances” or friends on Facebook (or even meeting friends of friends) who live in your new city. If you’re a dog-owner, a great way to meet people is at dog parks: to this day, we still use this tactic to try to connect with people in our community! Moving into your new place is also a great opportunity to meet your neighbors: I encourage you to avoid making the mistake of settling in and have months go by (or even years) without formally meeting the folks who live near by. Host a small gathering over guac and chips, swing by their places with a plate of freshly baked (or bakery-bought) cookies to introduce yourself. To live in community, it’s important to know who your neighbors are – so embrace the awkward, and say “hello” to potential peeps living right next door (or above/below you for those city-dwellers like me!). Also, here’s a helpful article I found with 17 Smart Ways to Make New Friends – hopefully this will help inspire you with your own personalized list. For us, one of the most important things was to find a church home and dig our roots in right away by joining a small group. We learned the hard way by not doing so when we moved to New York. We made great friends and had wonderful connections with lovely people – but I think our experience would have been that much better if we were also connected with a church home. In our move to San Francisco, our top priority was finding a church and getting plugged into a small group and community straight-away. This helped us IMMENSELY with settling into a new city and making new friends (who in turn became like family).
- Commit to establishing roots in the community you find yourself and seek to build deep, meaningful relationships – no matter how long you plan on being there. If you’re moving to a new city and don’t plan on staying there indefinitely, it can cause you to avoid making deep connections and living in community with others. I highly recommend avoiding this kind of mindset. Invest in your community and relationships as though your current city is your final destination – you may just find friends who will last you a lifetime.
- Explore and enjoy the many gifts your new city offers – but don’t simply be a consumer. Commit to making the city and/or your neighborhood a better place now that you are a part of it. Invest in your community: be intent on making your neighborhood and surrounding community a better place now that you’re here. Seek to add value and serve your city and city-dwellers, rather than having your city serve you 100% of the time. Please, please, please: enjoy your city and all it has to offer! But also remember to give back!
- Nurture the connections you already have. The relationships you have with family and friends may look different now that distance separates you, but it’s important to hold tight to those connections. Find ways to continue to connect and share in each other’s lives (e.g., phone dates, FaceTime, snail mail, trips to visit one another, etc.). For me, what’s been helpful is scheduling FaceTime chats with my close family members and friends. Marco Polo is a great app that I use often. If you’re not familiar, it allows you to leave video “chats” for your loved ones, which they can watch at their convenience, and then respond back with a video chat to you. Not only does this allow you to see the face of your loved ones, but also is extremely convenient since you can respond according to your schedule’s needs (rather than trying to nail down a time for both individuals to connect simultaneously). Also, another FUN way to stay connected is through travel. Sean and I like to make a trip to see each of our families at least once a year. In addition, we try to plan destination trips with our family members and friends. For example, my Mom and my sister Jenny, and I all took a long-weekend trip to NYC to have a “girls weekend.” It was a blast! Having your friends/family visit you in your new city is also a great way to stay connected and make memories together in your new “home.”
- Be proud of your roots and remain authentic. While it’s important to acclimate and respect the culture of your new city, do your best to fight the urge to “blend in” and lose who you are. You do NOT need to be ashamed of who you are or where you came from. That Southern drawl or Midwest accent? Rock it, friend! As committed as we are to our CA roots, Sean and I are proud of our upbringing in the Midwest. AND we’ve proud of where we are now. You can be both! 🙂 Sean’s upbringing in MN always calls for his “Duck-duck-gray duck” energy to shine as he roots on the Vikings (for those non-Minnesotans, the popular “duck-duck-goose” game played as youngsters has NO goose in the frozen tundra: here’s a cheesy local CBS article on this phenomena if you’re interested. :)). For me, it meant rockin’ my Cheesehead (Packers fan here!), hanging on to my Midwest accent (though I think I’ve been Californian-ized and my Midwest lingo only comes out when I’m around my fellow “don’t-ya-know-Bobbo” companions/family), and serving cheese at pretty much any gathering at the St. Germain household.
Now it’s YOUR Turn!
I hope the above list provides some inspiration as you begin to establish your own list of ways to explore and find community in your new city, neighborhood, or wherever your move brings you.
Even for those who are not changing addresses, any of the above items mentioned can be incorporated into your own life to help you become more involved in your city, neighborhood, community, and relationships.
Wherever you are – you have a community around you that needs you and likewise, that you need as well.
Life is not meant to be lived in isolation and is full of so much more joy and rainbow-living when celebrated together!