How to adjust to small town life

For those of us for whom travel is a lifestyle, frequent transitions between different languages, currencies, food, and time zones can become commonplace. Not that we don’t appreciate the differences, but we become adept at memorizing short phrases and words in new languages, we know the best places to change money (and our banks know that we’re always abroad), our stomachs adapt to new cuisine without so much as a hiccup (literally), and we know how to adjust our schedules to minimize the eternal nuisance that is jet-lag.

Still, transitions can be jarring, especially when all of those changes are combined with a drastic reduction in city size and pace of life. For me, the jump was from Taipei, Taiwan to small-town Maine, USA. If you’re like me, you may struggle with feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere (I basically am) and there’s nothing to do (sometimes there really isn’t). There are no convenient buses or subways to take me wherever I want to go, no food stands on every block, no museums, and no convenient bike lanes.

Yet as any small-town aficionado will tell you, there are plenty of advantages to living away from the big city, and you don’t have to completely abandon your urban lifestyle. Here are my tips for coping with the culture shock that comes with moving from a city of seven million people and one of the tallest buildings in the world to a town of 2,000 people and only one grocery store.

How to adjust to small town life

1) Remember what you liked about the city and try to recreate it

In many ways, this might be impossible. No matter how hard I look, I won’t be able to find Taiwanese street food. But, one of my favorite things about living in a city is the abundance of coffee shops. It’s probably an illusion, but I always feel more productive when I go somewhere else to work or read. There is not a café to be seen in my town in the classic sense, but there is a florist and chocolatier that share a building, serve coffee drinks, and have one table near the window. If you need me, that’s where I’ll be.

How to adjust to small town life

2) Find the things that are happening in your town, no matter how small

Alright, I can’t go to the free Cloud Gate Dance Theater performance in front of the National Theater on a whim or stay up until the wee hours of the morning singing KTV, but I don’t have to spend every evening at home. Even some of the few local restaurants that are a 15-minute drive from my house have live music on certain nights, there are numerous local theater productions, and there’s always pool at the pizza joint.

How to adjust to small town life

3) Travel to new places, even in your hometown

Don’t let small-town life limit your exploring. It’s far too easy to settle into a rut, even in a new place. Keep finding new things to see and experience, even if it’s just taking a different route to work or trying a new restaurant. If you’ve returned to your hometown, visit any new establishments that may have popped up in your absence. This is a good way to keep up the illusion of a new, unfamiliar environment. You don’t need to be in a foreign country to see the sites. Is there a tourist destination near you that you’ve never seen (you’re a local, after all)? Or, just choose a road you’ve never driven down and check it out! Bring the excitement of travel closer to home; you never know what you might find.

How to adjust to small town life

4) Enjoy the differences

As much as I loved the culture and convenience of life in Taipei, sometimes it’s awesome not to have to deal with the hustle and bustle of a big city. Want to stop and chat with the bank teller for 15 minutes? Sure, nobody is in line behind you. There’s no problem finding parking, and you never get the occasional, city-whiff of sewage while walking down the street (although, to be fair, sometimes a lobster-bait truck will spill, which is nearly as noxious).

How to adjust to small town life

5) Make the most of the difference

Don’t just savor your new stomping grounds; see what you can do here that you couldn’t before. This might be the perfect time to take up discus throwing now that you have so much space. Maybe that’s not your cup of tea, but there are advantages to your new rural reality. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new instrument or perfect your singing voice. You finally can because you probably don’t live in an apartment complex with neighbors on all sides who won’t appreciate your efforts. Go crazy with that new trumpet or didgeridoo!

The seeming limitations of small-town life can be expressed by the phrase “cabin fever,” which we in New England use to describe the crazies that set in during the winter months when you’re confined to your house by sub-zero temperatures and head-high snow drifts. Don’t let rural cabin fever take over your life at any time of year even if you’re an urbanite to the core. It can take some effort occasionally to keep life interesting, but it is possible to fully enjoy and take advantage of your new, laid-back environment.

How to adjust to small town life

There is nothing more challenging (mentally and physically) than moving and adjusting to that move. You are leaving the familiar to seek a new adventure in a far away land. Although, mentally, you have been preparing yourself for all the heartfelt goodbyes, there is still a glimmer of excitement amongst the waves of emotions you might be feeling leaving all your friends behind.

One of the coolest things about moving to a new town, especially one that is drastically different from your own, is the endless new possibilities you might encounter. It’s thrilling to think about your future and how it could unfold just by making one of the scariest decisions of your life. I knew, for myself, that the next step toward my career was to move to the Big Apple. To me, this was the beginning of something great. As a control freak (I’ll admit it), I don’t handle personal change that well; I love habit and knowing what’s happening next. But I knew that I needed to struggle a little bit to get my writing career going.

Whatever your reason might be as to why you are making your great next big move, just remember this: Change is inevitable; it’s bound to happen, but one of the greatest things you could do, is take charge of that change and create something beautiful out of it. So instead, don’t stress, and enjoy what your new city has to offer. Here are seven tried (by yours truly) and true ways to enjoy your new city, to adjust after a big move and conquer your fear.

1. Keep Your Mind Open to New Experiences

There is no doubt that your mind must be going a mile a minute, that’s natural. Just don’t let it overwhelm you. Take this time to get organize in your home and to relinquish any expectations you might have had. Don’t expect perfection. Every city has their own baggage, but how you are willing to explore it, is up to you.

When I moved to New York, I wasn’t prepared for the 4 p.m. sunsets (ugh!) or huge delays when it came to the public transportation. It’s something that I learned with overtime and just excused it as an experience that I wouldn’t have anywhere else. Just accept your new city for what is it and soon you will start calling it your new home in no time.

2. Unpack Everything

The best way to get adjusted very quickly is by making your new house feel like a home. The one nice thing about moving is that you probably brought a good amount of personal items with you. Take these items out so you can start seeing them everyday. It really helped me when I hung up all my pictures of my friends and family in my new home. It reminded me of how loved I am by them. Once you start feeling comfortable in your own home, the rest will be a piece of cake

3. Go Explore

If you have moved with someone or your significant other, and have some downtime, why not take that time to explore your new backyard? Go search online, or ask your friends who may have visited this new city of yours before, for some killer awesome recommendations to eat or shop at.

When I first moved, on my day off, I would search on Instagram for some of the coolest spots nearby my house. It helped my boyfriend and I get a bit more quaint and comfortable with our new town and it was always fun to go on a new adventure because we had each other. Once you start becoming familiar with the streets around your hood, the transition will quickly come faster than you least expect it.

4. Stay In Touch With Your Long-Distance Friends and Family

Talking about your situation with others can be a therapeutic way for you to feel adjusted to your new home. Your friends and family are probably excited to hear about your new life anyways, might as well drop the deets on them. I always try to Skype or text with my friends once a month. It really helps to keep my head on straight and they are always encouraging when I start to feel lost or uneasy.

5. Be Open With Connections

Usually when one moves to a new city, that also means new friends. It might seem hard, especially as an adult, to make new friends and actually keep them! We are so afraid of being judge by one another, that sometimes, it’s hard to open up and be, well, friendly. Instead, let random encounters happen and always smile. Of course, don’t forget to be safe about your surroundings, too. Let’s not forget that, but don’t let the loneliness take over and give you more stress. You don’t need more of that in your life.

6. Cook Meals & Have A Full Fridge

This might sound crazy, but you know you always feel better when you have a fridge full of food. Go to the grocery store down the street to grab your favorite snacks and meals. For myself, I always love having my favorite snacks in my fridge. And, personally, a good chocolate milkshake can handle any stress. I don’t care what you say.

According to a Psychology Today article, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford, said home cooked meals influence women and how they feel saying, “Now, most of us think that eating out is a treat, and that indulgent meals are a special reward. But this study found that women were significantly happier and less stressed after eating at home, and after eating healthier meals.” Come on, it’s in the pudding.

7. Try To Create A Routine

Of course your routine might not be identical to what it once was when you were living in your previous town, but creating a whole new routine will definitely help with the coping of adjusting to everything you are experiencing. It might take a couple of weeks or even months to organically create a new routine, but take this time to make healthier life choices: Try to exercise, write out a list of things you still need to do (because moving feels like it’s never ending when it comes to paperwork), and try and hang out with new friends. While Netflix and Chilling is never a bad idea, it’s also really healthy to try and get out of the house, too. When I moved to New York, I was figuring out the train system, and how long I needed to get from point A to point B or how to stay organized more when I felt like the busting city gave me less time to deal with in a day. It’s a lot more stress, but in the end, figuring out your routine, will simplify your life in more ways than one.

Moving can make you feel stressed, sad, or frustrated — but it can also be exciting, and filled with new possibilities. Try to focus on those positives, and eventually it will get easier, little by little.

There’s a lot that you can do on your own to ease the symptoms of depression. Changing your lifestyle can have a big effect on your mood. However, it’s not always easy to change our ways. It’s one thing to say that you’ll exercise five days a week, sleep at least eight hours a night, and eat three healthy meals and two snacks a day. But it’s not that easy to actually do. It’s especially difficult when you’re depressed. The key is to try not to get overwhelmed at the idea of changing your behavior. You also shouldn’t try to kick all your bad habits and reform totally overnight. That won’t work. Instead, start by making a few small changes to your life. As you start feeling better, make some more changes. Gradually ease yourself into a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle Tips That Aid in Depression Treatment

    Get some exercise. Studies show that regular exercise can improve your mood and help you sleep better. For instance, one study found that three sessions of aerobic activity each week worked as well as antidepressants in treating nearly two-thirds of mild-to-moderately depressed adults. And after 10 months of regular exercise, only 33% of the people who exercised were depressed, compared to 52% of the people who took antidepressants. The results were published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000.

When you start an exercise program, take it slowly at first. You could begin with walks around the neighborhood with a friend. Gradually work up to exercising on most days of the week. Try out different activities to find ones that you really enjoy. Doing things you like to do and having other people involved may help you stick with a regular exercise routine.
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  • Sleep well.Depression, and sometimes antidepressants and other medications, can interfere with your sleep. Some people with depressionsleep too much. Others can’t fall asleep or wake up too early. So try to incorporate healthy sleep habits into your life. Get on a regular schedule: go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Avoid naps. Before getting in bed, unwind with a good book or soothing music, but not in the bedroom. It might help to reserve the bedroom only for sleep and sex.
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  • Eat a healthy diet. There’s no diet that will cure or prevent depression. But a sensible eating plan will keep you feeling healthy and give you the nutrients you need. Don’t rely on popular diets that cut out food groups and sharply restrict what you can eat. Just focus on the basics: watch your calories, eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, and limit fat and sugar. Since caffeine can make you anxious, cut back on soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Ask your health care provider if seeing a nutritionist would be a good idea.
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  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drugs can add to your depression and make it worse. Depression and substance abuse often go together. In addition, alcohol and drugs can prevent your antidepressants from working as well as they should. If you have a substance abuse problem, you need to get help now. Addiction or abuse can prevent you from fully recovering from depression.
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  • Get some sunlight. Some people find that they get depressed at certain times of the year, most often during the winter when the days are short and the nights are long. This form of depression is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you have SAD, ask your doctor whether light therapy — exposure to artificial sunlight with a special lamp — might help.
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  • Stay connected and involved. Depression can rob you of your energy. You may feel like you can barely get across the room, let alone go out to dinner and a movie. But push yourself a little. Set aside time to do things that you used to enjoy doing. Get out with your family or friends. Or take up a hobby that used to give you pleasure. Staying active — and connected with the people in your life — may help you feel better.
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  • Take ‘TIME OUT” for yourself regularly, even as little as 15 minutes per day, may be very helpful. Use that time for relaxation, to meet personal needs, or anything that will “re-charge your mental battery”.
  • If you have treatment-resistant depression, you may have already tried one or more of these options. Don’t give up on them. Lifestyle changes continue to be important as you and your doctor determine the appropriate treatment options for you.

    How to adjust to small town life

    As the vaccination rollout continues across the country, many are cautiously optimistic about a return to “normal” this summer; the Biden administration has said that if vaccines continue to go well, people may be able to gather in small groups by the Fourth of July.

    However, this return to something resembling normal is making some anxious. People who are still worried about contracting the virus or who are used to spending time alone may find it difficult to return to their pre-pandemic social lives.

    TODAY Health spoke to several experts who offered their best tips on how to manage your mental health during these changes.

    Related

    TMRW x TODAY ‘I don’t want to go back to normal’: As pandemic fades, some find anxiety grows

    Allow yourself to feel worried or anxious.

    Deborah Serani, a psychologist and professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, said that feeling “insecure, nervous or anxious” is a very normal reaction following the events of the past year. Rather than trying to avoid those feelings, she recommends embracing them.

    “The phrase ‘new normal’ is something we’re all using but it’s a way of kind of saying you have to redefine what your life is, what’s important to you, how you’re going to carry on post-pandemic,” Serani said.

    Take it slowly.

    Ariane Ling, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York, New York, said that there’s no need for the transition to pre-pandemic life to happen all at once, especially since people are only just starting to get their vaccinations. Even once you are vaccinated, there’s no need to cram everything in.

    “One can sort of mitigate or manage how they’re going to reopen,” Ling explained. “There’s a collective healing that sort of has to happen before we can just jump back into normal . Everyone sort of has their own idea and understanding of what feels safe to them.”

    DeAnna Crosby, a therapist and clinical director of New Method Wellness, a treatment center in San Juan Capistrano, California, said that going “really slow” is the best way to manage “stress and anxiety during the return.”

    How to adjust to small town life

    TODAY anchors share their wellness tips

    “We don’t need to see everybody we’ve missed in the first two weeks. We can be mindful and plan out our business . If we just sit mindfully and look at our calendar, we don’t have to accept every social invitation that we’re invited to. We don’t have to say yes all the time,” Crosby said. “It might be overwhelming initially, in the beginning, to attend every reopening you’re invited to. Just keep in mind that you have plenty of time. Take your time to readjust to the new normal.”

    Set healthy and adjustable boundaries.

    As part of that goal of taking it slowly, the experts interviewed for this story all recommended setting boundaries: You don’t need to return to your pre-pandemic social life right away, and if you’re wary of seeing certain friends or are nervous about some interactions, it’s OK to take a step back.

    Serani recommends setting a “window of tolerance,” which is a “zone of comfort” that you can work, live and socialize within, adjusting it as things open up more.

    “You can stretch and elongate it as you become more comfortable,” Serani said. “That recovery and reentry is not a jump in the pool experience, it’s a slow progression back into life.”

    Related

    Health & Wellness How’s your mental health? 1 year into pandemic, experts offer advice

    Engage in candid conversations.

    Ling said that it can be helpful to have frank conversations with friends, family and other people you want to see, where you discuss what would be comfortable for all. If people have an open dialogue, that can make it easier to compromise or find an activity that works for everyone.

    “Ask people what they’re comfortable with, and share what you feel comfortable with,” Ling said. “Try to make it part of the conversation. We’re all trying to reintegrate back together.”

    If you do find yourself in a situation you’re uncomfortable with, Ling said that there can be a kind of “power” in knowing that you can leave at any time. Serani said that having a plan can make those moments even easier.

    Related

    Health & Wellness Fully vaccinated? Here is exactly what you can and can’t do

    “Practice, plan, think ahead,” Serani said. “Play out these scenarios, what things make you socially nervous or insecure. What can you do to install some type of grounding or safety or structure for you? . Boundaries and limits are a form of self-care and this is a new environment. We are not returning to the same old place. We’re not virus-free, we may never be. If post-pandemic life requires us to get a little more vigilant and a little more self-directed, that’s OK.”

    However, if you’re having difficulty connecting with someone or finding a compromise, just know that you can try again in the future.

    “It’s like learning a new language,” Serani said. “We’ll all get there.”

    Give yourself some time for self-care.

    Crosby emphasized the need for self-care: Many people will be dealing with a lot as they try to transition back to “normal” life, and it can be good to take some time for yourself.

    Self-care might look different depending on the person. Crosby suggested journaling, which can help people process what they’re going through, and finding a “trusted loved one” who you can talk candidly with.

    “Just keep talking about it . discuss how you go about reactivating with your loved ones, talk about what’s going on,” Crosby said. If you’d feel more comfortable speaking with a professional, that’s also a great option: Crosby said Zoom therapy can be a great bridge for people.

    “Be aware that you’re going to feel overwhelmed, expect it to come, and if you have an expectation of it, it’ll probably be less than it would if you weren’t aware of it,” Crosby said. “. Something about being mindful about it helps us accept it better.”

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    Sarah Von Bargen

    The cost of living diaries: Washington, D.C. to rural New York state

    How to adjust to small town life

    Rent in D.C. was $1,850 for a one-bedroom apartment.

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    Thinking of leaving the city because it’s too expensive? Interested in moving to a small town or rural area? As part of our Cost of Living Diaries series, we got all the details from a woman who did just that!

    Name: Isabella

    Age: 35

    Job in D.C.: Federal government policy analyst

    Job in rural New York: After two years of trying out different things, I’m back at my D.C. job, mostly working from home.

    Rent in D.C.: $1,850 monthly rent, plus utilities for an 800 square-foot, one-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t in the best shape, but it had a lot of character.

    Mortgage in rural New York: $800 monthly payment (mortgage, taxes, insurance) for a four-bedroom farmhouse on 3 acres. Also not in the best shape, but has a lot of character!

    What precipitated your move?

    In a very large sense, it was about quality of life. After 30+ years living in medium and large cities, I was losing steam with the constant hustle, bustle, and noise. Increasingly, I craved space, quiet and peace. Along the way, I met a man (now my husband) who spent his entire life in the area where I now live. After a year of dating long distance, I moved here.

    As you were getting ready to move, how did you prepare for the difference in cost of living?

    I knew the cost of living would be lower, but what I didn’t realize is that it’s due almost entirely to the cost of housing. So while my personal expenses are lower now, it’s not by nearly as much as I anticipated.

    What was it like looking for housing in rural New York?

    The housing market here vs. D.C. is almost laughably different. I got a four-bedroom house with land for the same price I would’ve paid for a small condo in an outer-ring suburb in the D.C. area.

    I bought the first house I looked at and had zero competition, but I don’t think that’s typical around here.

    Obviously, cost of living isn’t just about housing prices. What other costs changed for you?

    I’d say there are two categories where cost of living changed for me:

    1. Costs that would be different for anyone. For example, vet services are WAY cheaper here. Meals out are probably a bit cheaper, but not always.

    There are a lot of family farms in the area, so we can get fresh produce, eggs and meat for less. But flying is more expensive because you have fewer options. In general, the farther you’re willing to drive to an airport, the cheaper the tickets and the more likely you’ll be able to get a direct flight.

    Also, there’s only one internet provider with cable (vs. DSL) so it’s virtually impossible to negotiate your rates down.

    2. Costs that are specific to my situation. I used to live alone and now have a husband, a stepson in elementary school, and two big dogs, so groceries and other run-of-the-mill life expenses are higher.

    I used to walk most places or rely on public transportation, but I have to drive everywhere here. Now I own a car and have expenses related to that. My home is substantially larger and older, so my utility bills are bigger, especially during the winter.

    Has this change in cost of living affected other life choices?

    This is a hard question for me to answer because my life situation changed in so many more ways than just where I live. Becoming a (step)parent had a huge impact on that overall.

    The biggest thing: I travel less often than I used to and we’re more likely to drive than fly.

    What do you love about your new home?

    I love so many things about living in the country. My house is surrounded on three sides by woods. In the morning I can walk out onto my back deck with coffee and watch the dogs run around the yard without worrying that anyone will see me in my PJs.

    The pace of life is a lot more relaxed, which appeals to me.

    Most people I know here aren’t very politically involved, and I really enjoy having more mental distance from the political crucible that is D.C.. Don’t get me wrong, I still get stressed and upset like so many others, but it’s not a constant anymore.

    What do you miss about D.C.?

    Sidewalks and public transportation. Running in the National Zoo early in the morning when it’s just me and the animals. Being able to walk to Target TGT, +1.34% . Oh, how I miss this! Now the nearest Target is 45 minutes away and in another state.

    What has surprised you the most about this move?

    Initially, I was surprised by how long it took me to feel settled. Even though this was a move I was excited to make, learning to live a different lifestyle was a big adjustment.

    But now what surprises me is how much I’ve embraced the country lifestyle. I camp now. I’ve helped my in-laws collect eggs from their chicken coop. My vegetable garden is flourishing in its second summer. I’ve been four-wheeling and ice fishing. Instead of going out to bars, we have backyard bonfires.

    What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in moving to a smaller town?

    When moving somewhere rural-ish, do some research ahead of time to find the nearest supermarket, hardware store, coffee shop, bookstore, gym, etc. You may find it’s all a lot farther away than you imagined it would be.

    Yes, you can buy pretty much anything on the internet, but for those last-minute needs, it’s helpful to be mentally prepared for how long it could take. If you’re looking for a small town but aren’t tied to a specific one, this may help you narrow down your list.

    How to adjust to small town life

    If you’re moving to a new city — or a new country, or a new hemisphere — after college, it can be an intimidating and lonely experience. While moving for school comes with in-built structure and social systems, picking up and moving your life in your 20s and 30s, for work, a relationship or something else, is less adventure, more potential isolation. The possibility alone is daunting — how do you make new friends when you move to a new place as an adult, especially if you happen to be an introvert?

    “Too many people who relocate go home at night after work and over the weekends, and catch up on doing chores,” author, sociologist, and friendship expert Dr. Jan Yager tells Bustle. “This increases their isolation because it is harder for them to make new friends.” Not to mention, isolation and loneliness aren’t good for your mental health. Even if you want to snuggle and nest a bit initially, you’re going to have to push yourself out of the house to make a connection with somebody. Though it’s definitely harder to make new friends as an adult than it is when you were in school, it isn’t impossible. Here are seven expert-approved ways to do it.

    Remember Your Past Connections

    “Before you rush to seek out and form new friendships, be curious if there are any old friends in your past you may want to reconnect with,” therapist Annie Wright tells Bustle. “There may be old friends who have moved to your new city that a quick alumni network or Facebook search could reveal.” This system has the benefit of giving you a built in topic of conversation with some folks.

    And keeping in touch can also help ease the transition period. Dr. Yager tells Bustle that if you really miss your old home, it’s important to keep in touch with everybody you’ve left behind. But, she says, there are limits. “Be careful not to let all that connecting with the past stop you from having the courage to initiate and, hopefully, continue relationships that become friendships with those you meet,” she says.

    Put Yourself Out There

    “Get active in associations — local chapters of any national organizations you belong to — or go out and do activities when you are not working,” advises Yager. “Whether this is a mastermind group, recreational ultimate leagues, weekly Zumba classes at Y, a night class at a local community college, an REI training class, a MeetUp, put yourself in situations where you’ll meet multiple new people face to face,” Wright says. Look for groups that do hobbies you already love (crafting, mountain climbing, book clubs) or take up one that you’ve always wanted to try, so there’s extra incentive if you’re feeling shy.

    Use Social Media

    If you’re introverted, you can look online for new connections. “I think one of the best parts about social media is how we can more easily seek out our like-minded kindred spirits — our Wolf Pack! — that we may not otherwise have had any other way of meeting,” Wright tells Bustle. “Connecting and following someone online may not bloom into a real friendship right away, but this may happen over time if you two decide to take it offline (and this has definitely been the case for me!).”

    Dr. Yager advises being cautious when going this route. “Be friendly and open to new friendships online,” she says, “but also be wise and careful if you meet someone through an online site. Namely, meet in a public place. Make sure you always share the contact information with the person you are meeting, even if it’s in a public space, with someone you know and trust.”

    Be Strategic

    It helps if you understand the psychological terrain of friendships in a new place. Leslie Fischer, an entrepreneur, tells Bustle, “Most people in your town have existing friendships that nourish their need for connection with others, so you need to do the inviting.” If you’re not up to this, she says, “it is often less intimidating to meet somewhere away from your home because it is neutral ground and both parties can control their exits and leave when they need to.” That way you’re not just inviting everybody into your space or feeling uncomfortable in somebody else’s.

    “Deliberately plan time in your calendar month for friendship,” says Wright. “Put a friendship date — whether with an old friend or a new one — down in your calendar and stick to it. Don’t let schedules overwhelm keep you from prioritizing this if making friends is, in fact, a priority for you in your new city.” This also means you should do your research; look up friendly cafes and chat with the barista, take your dog to a popular dog park, or show up at a music night. Being the new person in town also always gives you an “in” for conversation; ask locals for tips about their favorite places.

    Be Prepared To Get Help

    It’s not unexpected if you feel sad while trying to find your social feet in a new place, says Dr Yager. “If you don’t know anyone in the new location, you may have to work hard not to let your loneliness make you too sad or depressed,” she tells Bustle. Your wellbeing is important, so if you notice that your loneliness is getting you down, take steps. “Work on that by joining a support group or seeing a therapist,” says Dr Yager.

    A therapy group in general can also be helpful as a starter social group, Wright tells Bustle. “Whether this is a Women’s Circle, a grief processing group, a recently broken-hearted or preparing yourself for relationship group, find a circle of people journeying through something you’re going through in your new city. That kind of connection can be vulnerable and powerful.”

    Use The Three-Meeting Rule

    Remember that making a connection takes time. “I always make sure that when I make a genuine connection with a gal, I plan three successive meetings with her,” Fischer tells Bustle. “Those three meetings in quick succession cement your connection and if you don’t get together for a long period of time, you still feel like you are friends.” It’s an easy system and a good one, particularly because adult life is busy. “It is easy to not see someone for a few months,” notes Fischer. “If this disconnection happens after only seeing each other one time, you can feel like you have been ‘dumped,’ but if the disconnection happens after seeing each other three times in a row, you still feel connected.”

    Give Back To Your New Community

    A quick way to feel connected both to your place and to other people who love it is to give back to it, even if you’ve only been there for three days. “Volunteer, join a board, host a fundraiser,” advises Wright. “Host something for your new neighbors, or at least say ‘Hi’ in the hallway. Once you’re more established, host a monthly potluck, gather at a restaurant, and ask your friends to bring somebody new into your group each month. Bonus! You get to check out a bunch of new restaurants in your new city.” The point, she says, is “all about putting yourself in environments where you’ll be exposed to new folks, and you’ll also feel good for giving back.”

    Whatever strategies you use, it’ll take time for you to feel comfortable in your new city with a host of connections around you. Don’t expect it all to sort out within five days. Give it a few months, though, and soon you’ll be settled with some excellent mates around.

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    Livability

    Sarah Von Bargen

    The cost of living diaries: Washington, D.C. to rural New York state

    How to adjust to small town life

    Rent in D.C. was $1,850 for a one-bedroom apartment.

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    Thinking of leaving the city because it’s too expensive? Interested in moving to a small town or rural area? As part of our Cost of Living Diaries series, we got all the details from a woman who did just that!

    Name: Isabella

    Age: 35

    Job in D.C.: Federal government policy analyst

    Job in rural New York: After two years of trying out different things, I’m back at my D.C. job, mostly working from home.

    Rent in D.C.: $1,850 monthly rent, plus utilities for an 800 square-foot, one-bedroom apartment. It wasn’t in the best shape, but it had a lot of character.

    Mortgage in rural New York: $800 monthly payment (mortgage, taxes, insurance) for a four-bedroom farmhouse on 3 acres. Also not in the best shape, but has a lot of character!

    What precipitated your move?

    In a very large sense, it was about quality of life. After 30+ years living in medium and large cities, I was losing steam with the constant hustle, bustle, and noise. Increasingly, I craved space, quiet and peace. Along the way, I met a man (now my husband) who spent his entire life in the area where I now live. After a year of dating long distance, I moved here.

    As you were getting ready to move, how did you prepare for the difference in cost of living?

    I knew the cost of living would be lower, but what I didn’t realize is that it’s due almost entirely to the cost of housing. So while my personal expenses are lower now, it’s not by nearly as much as I anticipated.

    What was it like looking for housing in rural New York?

    The housing market here vs. D.C. is almost laughably different. I got a four-bedroom house with land for the same price I would’ve paid for a small condo in an outer-ring suburb in the D.C. area.

    I bought the first house I looked at and had zero competition, but I don’t think that’s typical around here.

    Obviously, cost of living isn’t just about housing prices. What other costs changed for you?

    I’d say there are two categories where cost of living changed for me:

    1. Costs that would be different for anyone. For example, vet services are WAY cheaper here. Meals out are probably a bit cheaper, but not always.

    There are a lot of family farms in the area, so we can get fresh produce, eggs and meat for less. But flying is more expensive because you have fewer options. In general, the farther you’re willing to drive to an airport, the cheaper the tickets and the more likely you’ll be able to get a direct flight.

    Also, there’s only one internet provider with cable (vs. DSL) so it’s virtually impossible to negotiate your rates down.

    2. Costs that are specific to my situation. I used to live alone and now have a husband, a stepson in elementary school, and two big dogs, so groceries and other run-of-the-mill life expenses are higher.

    I used to walk most places or rely on public transportation, but I have to drive everywhere here. Now I own a car and have expenses related to that. My home is substantially larger and older, so my utility bills are bigger, especially during the winter.

    Has this change in cost of living affected other life choices?

    This is a hard question for me to answer because my life situation changed in so many more ways than just where I live. Becoming a (step)parent had a huge impact on that overall.

    The biggest thing: I travel less often than I used to and we’re more likely to drive than fly.

    What do you love about your new home?

    I love so many things about living in the country. My house is surrounded on three sides by woods. In the morning I can walk out onto my back deck with coffee and watch the dogs run around the yard without worrying that anyone will see me in my PJs.

    The pace of life is a lot more relaxed, which appeals to me.

    Most people I know here aren’t very politically involved, and I really enjoy having more mental distance from the political crucible that is D.C.. Don’t get me wrong, I still get stressed and upset like so many others, but it’s not a constant anymore.

    What do you miss about D.C.?

    Sidewalks and public transportation. Running in the National Zoo early in the morning when it’s just me and the animals. Being able to walk to Target TGT, +1.34% . Oh, how I miss this! Now the nearest Target is 45 minutes away and in another state.

    What has surprised you the most about this move?

    Initially, I was surprised by how long it took me to feel settled. Even though this was a move I was excited to make, learning to live a different lifestyle was a big adjustment.

    But now what surprises me is how much I’ve embraced the country lifestyle. I camp now. I’ve helped my in-laws collect eggs from their chicken coop. My vegetable garden is flourishing in its second summer. I’ve been four-wheeling and ice fishing. Instead of going out to bars, we have backyard bonfires.

    What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in moving to a smaller town?

    When moving somewhere rural-ish, do some research ahead of time to find the nearest supermarket, hardware store, coffee shop, bookstore, gym, etc. You may find it’s all a lot farther away than you imagined it would be.

    Yes, you can buy pretty much anything on the internet, but for those last-minute needs, it’s helpful to be mentally prepared for how long it could take. If you’re looking for a small town but aren’t tied to a specific one, this may help you narrow down your list.

    From making friends as an adult to finding the perfect job, here’s what you need to know about starting a new life in a new place.

    How to adjust to small town life

    Starting over in a new city where you don’t know anyone is exhilarating, life-changing and, at times, heartbreaking — and it’s something I think everyone should do at least once.

    These Are the Top 100 Affordable Places to Live in America

    But once you’ve moved to a new place, how do you adjust and thrive? Once you’ve figured out the basics like setting up your internet service and not getting lost on your way to work, what do you need to know to navigate a new life you’re building from scratch?

    I’ve started over in new cities with varying degrees of success. From creating a new routine to making friends as an adult, here are some lessons I’ve learned (the hard way).

    1. Become a regular.

    Being surrounded by newness is thrilling. When you move to a new place, every moment of every day brings a sense of discovery and surprise. New people! New restaurants! New smells and sights and sounds!

    Revel in this constant stream of novelty, but make room for a bit of regularity and routine. Choose a coffee shop or bar you like, and go there often. Get to know the baristas or bartenders. Let them get to know you.

    By doing this, you’re laying the foundation of your new community and your day-to-day life. This will anchor you and keep you sane. Trust me on this.

    2. Be almost comically aggressive in your efforts to make friends.

    Making friends as an adult is hard. When people ask me how to do it, I always say the same thing: you’ve got to be ridiculously, consistently, comically aggressive in your efforts to connect with people.

    That neighbor whose car has a bumper sticker you agree with? Invite her over for tea. That person you chat with after yoga? You should definitely see if they want to grab lunch after class one day. That barista you’ve got a good rapport with? You need to ask them what they do for fun (and see if you can tag along).

    I have actually said, “I like your shirt. Want to be friends?” to a woman I met in the bathroom of a Taylor Swift concert. This is the level of shamelessness that building a social life from scratch requires.

    The bottom line? You need to hang out with lots and lots of people to find the ones you click with. You won’t click with everyone. That’s OK. But in order to find your tribe, you need to leave your pride (and sometimes your dignity) at the door, and be the initiator of your own social life.