Grownup Firsts: The First Time I Moved Across the Country

I’m turning 30 in a few weeks and while I still feel like a kid who fears adulthood, I think it’s safe to say I’ve had a few grownup moments of my own over the past few years. One of the most notable happened seven months ago when I moved across the country from Boston to Los Angeles with my boyfriend and dog. It’s the farthest I had ever moved on my own and here is what I learned:

You need to save, a lot.

I had moved apartments as an “adult” two times so I thought I had a good grasp on how annoying and expensive moving was. This was just going to be a bit of a longer drive, I thought. 

To ramp up our savings (that would be blown on day 2 of our arrival in L.A.), we moved home to my mom’s house for four months. We were fortunate that we didn’t have to pay rent so we stashed it. This also gave us time to start selling most of our large furniture and make a little more money in preparation.

We lost money when we thought we could fit more in the car than we could and had to give away items for free last minute (money down the drain but karma boosted?). Then the drive out is expensive as hell. Then we spent a lot on the drive out. Gas, food, scary motels and random tourist trap you visit to stop the monotony over a week of driving sure do add up. 

If I were to do this again, my grownup self would tell me to move home further in advance, if possible. I’d say sell literally everything so you can re-buy the same things in your new spot. And I make sure it’s worth it to take the adventurous route and drive across the country only after looking into options like flying / shipping your car, or getting a new car once you’ve landed.

There are no more safety nets.

You know that awesome feeling you have when you walk into your family home on the first day of college Christmas vacation? That “I’m gonna sit on the couch, can’t wait for dinner!” feeling? Well, that won’t happen for a while. 

Neither of us has family on the west coast and this hit us the hardest during the holidays. We made our own mini Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but it wasn’t what we were used to and it was emotionally difficult. Turkeys are also super expensive...who knew?! 

I learned if you are going to “be out on your own,” you have to brace yourself to miss out on traditions you once cherished and start your own, new traditions. 

There are also no safety nets. You can’t call your mom, aunt, sister, sister’s friend, etc and ask for recommendations on things like who’s a nice doctor to go to. There’s no one to help you pick out furniture and no home to pop into on Sunday when you’ve run out of groceries and need to do laundry. But you can skype with your mom as you do laundry while she’s getting ready for bed. And Yelp will become your new “local mom.”

It’s lonely out there.

Along with not having any relatives out in Los Angeles, both my boyfriend and I barely knew anyone in general. I had a few contacts that my friends back east set me up with via email, but that’s about it. Prepare to spend a lot of time with yourself and venture out to do activities solo. Your phone won’t be blowing up on a Friday night for a long time unless you make the effort to get social. And just like missing your family during the holidays, you will have lots of FOMO thanks to SnapChat. 

The good thing is I have found many people in LA are in the same situation. It is much less of a “we’ve known each other since Pre-K” situation like Boston. People are always coming and going and seem to be more embracing to “non-locals.” Slowly I’ve begun to make a few great friends that I otherwise may not have in my tight-knit circle back home. 

There are lots of annoying adult things to figure out.

This is all pretty minor but I felt it was worth mentioning. I am constantly lost and am insanely dependent on GoogleMaps. We had to figure out things like appliances since Californians apparently move with appliances. Seriously, who has ever bought a fridge for a rented apartment? Buying a fridge made me feel pretty adult-like. 

We also had to deal with all the car stuff  and spent a good day at the DMV getting new licenses (I failed the test the first time so that added 30 minutes while I had to study), registration, new plates, smog checks, etc. And then the doctor stuff again. You have to get a new doctor, a new dentist, a new optometrist, etc. 

It’s mostly all first-world problems, but still, it was stuff you have to do and need time to set up that I never gave much thought to previously. 

There's no reward without risk.

I had lived in the suburbs of Boston with my family since the first grade and in the city after college for seven years. It’s a place I feel fortunate to call home. The city is clean, cute, decently affordable and home to a strong network of young adults I grew up with or went to school with. For these reasons I felt safe and embedded in the community, and as a twenty-something-year-old I was able to make a lot of adult firsts. I had my first apartment, first job, first time quitting, first freelance gig, first networking event, and so on. It was one of the best incubator cities I could have asked for. 
So then why did I move? When I first said “ok let’s do this” a few months back it was not a decision I took lightly, but it felt right. While being close to our families was extremely important to us, so was our future. My boyfriend wants to work in the surf industry and I want to work in the sustainable fashion and athleisure world, things that are much more embedded out here. There were no definite jobs waiting for us, just possibilities we felt strongly about. We also wanted to live in a community that was more creative, or design-focused, and more accepting of the freelancer / non-nine-to-five lifestyle, which let’s be honest, many cities on the east coast are still hesitant to embrace. There were a few other obvious draws of Los Angeles like palms trees, water, and year-round sunshine, but most of all we just needed a change. We needed to start our own adventure.

You will survive.

Moving across the country was the was the first time I did something that I had no idea what the future would hold or when the end date would be, and that’s ok. So far we’ve survived our first holiday season, our first time playing host to my mom and then his mom, our first time getting lost and our first outing with new friends we just met like a week ago. And for the first time in my life, I feel totally confident not knowing what’s coming next. 

“The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

This post was sponsored by Society of Grownups, a company that helps you navigate adulthood without losing your soul or your sense of adventure along the way.