Moving to a New City Alone

May 17, 2017 in Life & Love

Not everyone gets that itch. The one where you feel like there’s more for you outside of your hometown bubble. I shouldn’t call it an itch because for me it was more of a pull. Cities I wanted to explore were pulling me out of Pittsburgh and my first move was quite a shocker.

Moving to a new city alone can be emotional roller coaster.

In the weeks leading up to college graduation, I had accepted a summer internship with a digital marketing agency in Phoenix. I have been to Arizona too many times to count. Accepting the position was a no-brainer. My internship started the day after I arrived and I loved it! My coworkers were fun and our office was in a great location. I made so many amazing friends that summer. We went tubing on the Salt River and drank at all the breweries. Living in Arizona in the summer results in pool parties every weekend!

I thought I would stay in Phoenix, but as the summer went on, I started to feel homesick. I missed Pittsburgh, my friends, my family and I really missed being able to put my seatbelt on without burning myself. Mental breakdowns became a daily part of life. When I say breakdowns, I mean full on tears streaming, questioning why on earth I moved across the country. Cue the emotional roller coaster.

Moving to a new city alone can be lonely.

When I moved to Arizona, I didn’t know anyone. When I moved to Nashville, I knew two people and I didn’t see them often. There’s excitement when moving to a new city, so the loneliness doesn’t sink in right away. You’re usually working a new job and trying to get into a new routine. Your mind is kept busy by all of the new surroundings. Once you get settled in, you realize that your best friend isn’t just across the city and you don’t have your typical dinner crew.

If I’ve learned anything from moving, it’s this: making friends as an adult is hard. As you start you start to figure out who you are and what you value in a friend, you become picky. It’s a good thing! There are few people in Nashville I consider true friends. You want the ones that give you that home feeling, the ones you can call at 3am with an emergency and the ones you can take home to meet your family. As you start to meet these friends, you build your own world, and in a way, your own family.

Moving to a new city alone can be incredible.

I am obsessed with Pittsburgh and I bleed black and gold. After a year in Nashville, I still referred to Pittsburgh as home. While I was visiting my family over Christmas, I was on the phone with a guy I was dating and said, “I am so ready to come home.” Wait, what? Did I just call Nashville home? I was stunned myself. I never thought I would call another city my home.

In that moment, I realized I had created my own world away from Pittsburgh and it was incredible. Friends would visit Nashville and I would show them around and introduce them to my Nashville friends. “Why would you ever want to leave?” They would all ask me after a night in Music City.

It’s not easy to move away from everything you know. It takes courage and the ability to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You’ll feel homesick and lonely, but there are so many things you can do to get you through it.

Learn to do things solo.

If you picked up and moved to a new city alone, you can certainly handle going out by yourself. Don’t be afraid to explore on your own! The worst thing you can do is sit at home because you don’t have an adventure partner. Embrace independence and your new surroundings. Take a drive around your new home and learn the area. Try a new restaurant or coffee shop. If you are moving to a transplant city, like Nashville, there are people all around you exploring and looking to make friends.

Say yes.

I’m a cautious person and tend to say “eh” to a lot of invites because of my social anxiety. As an attempt to overcome it, I’ve started saying yes to (almost) everything. Say yes to the date or the concert or the spin class. Each time you say no, you shut out new opportunities. Every “yes” could lead to finding something you love or meeting a lifetime friend.

Get involved.

Pick up some activities you enjoyed in your former city. Find a new church, volunteer with a charity or walk the pups at the local humane society. Do something meaningful to you and you’ll surround yourself with people you can relate to. Websites, such as, have events for everything from new residents to young professionals to craft beer lovers. 

Get to know the real you.

There is a reason you left where you were living. Some leave for a new job, some leave to chase a dream and some want a fresh start. I left because I was looking for something I knew I couldn’t find in Pittsburgh: my true self. Moving is a huge change and the perfect opportunity to grow and challenge yourself. Keep a journal when you first move or think back to how you were as a person at that time. You’ll look back on the person you were and hopefully be proud of the person you’ve become.


Always remind yourself how courageous you are for throwing yourself into the unknown. Moving to a new city alone is a difficult, incredible journey. Some find a new home and new life; some end up back where they came from. Either way, it is a learning experience worth the risk.

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  • Reply Chels May 17, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I definitely needed to read something like this! You wrote this at the perfect time. Great job Riley, I’m so proud of you!!! Keep it up & see ya soon.

  • Reply Mom May 17, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    So, so proud of you! Tears again!!! I miss you…

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