I’ve been living in Melbourne for one month. I love it, but I have to admit I’m surprised by much more difficult it is moving to a new city, compared to travelling through many cities. I thought moving would be easier than a month of multi-city travelling, but it’s actually much harder.
On paper, it should be simpler: one permanent address, unpacking just the once, the same street, the same markets, the same bed.
In reality, moving to a new city for the first time has been one of the strangest experiences of my life.
One day, I’m blown away by the new experiences at my fingertips and the next, I’m dreaming about buying plane tickets for my next trip. I don’t feel at home, but I don’t feel like I’m far away.
Why can’t I wait to explore somewhere new, when I’ve barely scratched the surface on the incredible city I’ve just moved to?
Moving to a new city makes you work harder for your rewards.
You have to be patient.
It’s a totally new experience for me, which is why it’s so important.
Instant gratification of travel
It’s easy to get addicted to the instant gratification of travel. You stay for a couple of days, maybe a week or two, and you live every day like it’s your last.
You eat interesting local food, every morning at the local markets is a thrill and your days are spent seeing the best, most interesting, strangest, most beautiful parts of a city.
Sure, there are hiccups along the way, but after your short stay you leave satisfied. Your whirlwind adventure threw you into the best bits, and pulled you away before the ugly parts – or worse, the boring, everyday parts.
On to your next destination, to rinse and repeat.
You come home, high on travel and full of energy. You can’t wait to book your next ticket out of town.
Slow & steady rewards of moving
When you move to a new city for the first time, it’s easy to expect the same things. Logically, you know you’re moving to work, eat home cooked food, sleep and live a “normal” life, but in your heart of hearts you secretly expect the same cherry-picked adventures that you had abroad.
At first, it seems this way. You’re ecstatic that you live within walking distance to the city’s best farmers markets. You get lost in new laneways every lunchtime. You quickly suss out the local bar scene and earmark your new favourite haunts. You mark your diary with the exciting events coming to town.
And then it is quiet.
The quiet part, I wasn’t expecting so soon. This is when moving becomes more difficult than travelling. Weeks become a series of sky-highs and everyday lows. It’s the best parts of short term travel and also the worst…on repeat, for months.
This feels uncomfortable. Is this good or bad? Fun or scary? Smart or stupid? Am I happy or terrified?
Why am I finding settling in so difficult?
Because moving is a marathon, not a sprint.
And I am not a marathon runner.
(Actually – I’m not much of a runner at all, but if I was going to run it would be a sprint).
When I travel, I can move on to the next exciting place and bliss out on the sensory overload of every new city. I’m addicted to the differences. The strangeness. The weirdness. The newness.
It’s the same in all aspects of my life. I love to dive into things, get completely lost in things, and then zoom into my next adventure or passion project.
I was SO excited to move to Melbourne. So many new neighbourhoods! And laneways! And bars and restaurants!
The thrill is starting to wear off. As it should. This is my new home, and it’s starting to feel that way. I’ve never called anywhere but Brisbane home, so it’s odd to start having these feelings for some place else.
It’s kind of like when you’re on a boat, and your eyes see a steady horizon but your body feels the boat moving, and you get seasick. Everything around me looks familiar now, but my life is so different now that it’s making my head spin.
It’s totally worth it.
It’s worth it when I walk across Queensbridge on a sunny day, take a photo and look at it in shock. “ I can’t believe this is where I live.”
When around every corner is a gorgeous old building that makes me stop and stare.
When I try a new restaurant, and discover an alleyway beside it that looks like a rainbow exploded all over it.
When my family and friends visit and I get to show them my favourite places.
When I make new friends that I would never have met if I’d stayed at home.
Moving to a new city is one of the most wonderful and exciting choices I have ever made.
I love it here. Like all long term relationships, it’s not always butterflies and goo-goo eyes. Moving to a new city takes work. Becoming a local takes even more work. Setting up a new life somewhere else takes effort, patience and endurance.
It takes commitment.
And that is something I need to work on.
Which is why this move is so important for me.
Long term commitments are not my strong suit, and I need to work on that. Melbourne reminds me of this nearly every day.
I love the thrill of the move and the knowledge that with enough patience and effort, I’ll reap the rewards of a long term relationship with a new city. The intimate knowledge that only a local can know.
I’m still excited to travel regularly, because it will always be an important part of my life. I’m still excited to move to other cities one day – I want to live in New York, London, Paris and a few other cities which I’m purposefully leaving as wildcards. I’ll come back to Brisbane one day too. But I can’t live a life of travel, and living in difference cities, if I can’t learn to commit.
I need to learn to commit to the marathon.
Now the hard work begins, so the real fun can start.