Acting on a feeling of spontaneity is thrilling. I love the rush a split-second decision gives me, and possessing this quality has lead to many exhilarating adventures, followed by pivotal life lessons along the way.
Earlier this year I chose to make Vancouver, British Columbia my new home. After sharing a bed with my friend in her small one-bedroom apartment in Kitsilano, I canceled my return flight home and gleefully told my mother she would not be picking me up from the airport the following day. Two days after making my decision, I put a deposit down on an apartment and had a job interview at a pub downtown.
Everything seemed to fall into place: I landed a job as a server, had an apartment a block from the harbor and had a dependable friend from home I could call if I needed directions from the Sky Train. But truth be told, I only lasted three months in the big city.
Here is a handy-dandy list of what I learned while making the move to ‘The Big City.’ By no means do I regret it, but knowing this before I left would have probably prevented me from leaving the city so soon after I moved.
Do set aside some money before you go.
I know this advice sounds unnecessarily parent-y, and sometimes spontaneity doesn’t just happen when you’re rolling in cash, but honestly, moving out is EXPENSIVE. You need to consider the facts: You might not get a job right away, there might be a hefty damage deposit on your new apartment and you’ll need to buy basic necessities you might never have considered before, like soap, shampoo and pillows!
Do connect with people before you move.
It’s funny how that person you message on Facebook once a year on their birthday becomes your new best friend when you both move to the same city. Make connections! It makes the move much easier if you have a familiar face to turn to when trying to purchase your first bus pass, find a job or figure out where everyone goes on Saturday nights.
Don’t be afraid to eat alone.
My best friend in Vancouver was my server I met while eating alone at a local pub. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to the bartender or waitress.
Don’t expect to get a job right away.
I got lucky. I had some connections to the bar industry and was lucky enough to land a full-time position in a great downtown location. If it weren’t for that crucial connection, who knows when I would have found a job. The economy isn’t what it used to be. Save some money before the leap, or better yet, land a position before the move.
Don’t work in the bar industry if you hate working in the bar industry.
“I’ll just get a job at a bar.” I loved my job, but working in the bar industry just to make money has its downfalls. First of all, you’ll most likely work evenings, leaving little time to socialize and enjoy the city. I worked late nights and slept through the afternoons. I lived two minutes from Stanley Park and walked through the park ONCE in my three-month stay.
Here’s what happens: You finish your shift at midnight and you stay for drinks at the bar. One drink turns to six and the next morning you miss your 11am yoga class because you’re too damn hungover. Although, some people can easily adapt to this lifestyle, I was not one of them.
Don’t expect your social life to immediately skyrocket. Making friends, especially as an adult, is hard.
Remember when you’d just call up your friend and meet for drinks and life was good? Well, it’s still fantastic, but instead of having a plethora of friends to choose from you have like…one and if that friend is busy you’re SOL and are left to explore the city on your own. Which is great! But, prepare for some loneliness.
Sort things out with your relationships before you move.
Don’t be like me. I literally called my then-boyfriend and told him I wasn’t coming home and we were consequently going to have to break up. Bye Felicia! I broke his heart and didn’t even give him a proper goodbye. Spontaneity is great, but don’t be like me and crush someone’s heart along the way.
Don’t feel the need to impress people just to make new friends.
For those three months, I was down for anything. I was pretty desperate to make new friends and if I received an invite, a hundred percent I was going. I partied my little heart out, and of course that comes with its own set of consequences. The hangovers, the money spent, etc. And realistically, are you sure those of the kind of friends you want to spend every night with? You’re allowed to say no to the party.
Don’t ignore your friends and family back home.
Don’t forget your roots, girl.
Don’t expect all of your problems to go away.
After coming home, I realized I was running away from all my problems. I thought Vancouver was this magical land where all my issues from back home would simply disappear.
Reality check: They followed me. If you have anxiety, you’ll still have anxiety in a new area code. And depression doesn’t just go away either.
It may sound like my short-lived time in Vancouver was complete and utter disaster – not at all. I don’t regret a second of my time in the city, and I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience. I met a lot of great people, some of whom I still reach out to today. But, while being forced to move back in with my mom and start over again, these are the lessons I have learned.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been given the chance to do it all over again. I was accepted into Simon Fraser University and move back to the city in the fall. Maybe this time, I’ll take my own advice.
Do you have any advice for when I move back to Vancouver? Let me know in the comments below.