When I started this blog, I promised that I would be honest. I promised I wouldn't let it turn into one of those cliche lifestyle blogs that present my life to be amazingly perfect, because my life isn't amazingly perfect. I am very fortunate and I've worked very hard to be able to live in one of Chicago's nicest, safest neighborhoods comfortably, but that doesn't mean everything has been smooth or perfect or even easy. So today I want to talk about what it's really like to move cities, including the ugly, stressful parts.
First of all, it took me ten months of searching to find a job. I counted recently and I applied to roughly 345 jobs in that time span, and had seven interviews. Only one of those resulted in a job offer. The comScore transfer likely would have eventually resulted in a job, but they were dragging their feet for so long that I wasn't sure they were worth waiting for. After ten months of searching, I found a job at a company for which I very much wanted to work. I can't emphasize enough how hard I had to work, and how patient I had to be to even get to the city. It was disheartening and shattered my confidence in my professional abilities. In the end, it was worth the wait.
After finding a job, I had to negotiate my salary and determine cost of living. This is the least fun part of moving cities. You can't find an apartment until you have a job, but you need to know how much you're going to pay in rent in order to negotiate your salary. Everything in a city costs more, but sometimes you live in places like Evansville where you pay upwards of $400 on utilities per month, and then moving to Chicago you almost break even. So for perspective on the Evansville utility situation, I pay $25/month in electricity and my gas, water, cable, high speed internet, heating and cooling are all bundled together for $80/month in Chicago. I could afford a lot higher rent because my utilities were a quarter of what they were in Evansville. Total, living in Chicago in terms of rent and utilities costs me $311/month more than living in Evansville.
Next I had to find an apartment and movers. It took a week to find my apartment using Zillow. I was starting to lose hope (I only had 12 days to my starting day at AdGooroo) and was even desperately posting on craigslist. One morning, I woke up and found the absolutely perfect studio in the Gold Coast which had a doorman, dry cleaner, dog park and tons of storage. I called the girl who was subletting immediately and asked to come look at it the following weekend. She said yes, and the rest is history. I absolutely love my apartment and plan to sign another lease in August. It was worth it, but one detail is worth mentioning: the movers cost me (read: my parents) $4000. I had called Two Men and a Truck and they "lost" my reservation, so I hastily called Allied and they happened to have an incredible, amazing, kind crew available who made my move so much easier. They did a great, perfect job. They hauled all my furniture, packed up my boxes into other boxes (to maximize space) and even reassembled everything when I moved in. I was so happy with them and highly recommend them, despite the steep price of crossing state lines.
Once I was moved in, I had to figure out public transit. That was an adventure, to say the least. I did a dry run of my commute and experimented with different train and bus routes the day before I began work. I decided I hated the buses (I didn't like to have to pull the cord for a stop) and instead I stick to the "L" trains. I take the red line (a subway) to the green line (elevated tracks) in the morning, and the pink line (elevated) to the red line home, or if it's not too cold or gross out I walk up Michigan Ave to Topshop, then cut over to Rush street and walk up through my neighborhood. I walk about 4.5 miles a day and have lost all the weight I gained in Evansville just by having healthy food options and walking.
Then came adjusting. Adjusting to a new city isn't easy, and is exceptionally difficult when you come from a town of 6k people. I've always prided myself in my ability to adapt, but Chicago has still been difficult. I went on a date Saturday night and was talking about North Vernon, and the guy I was out with remarked the he couldn't tell I'm from a small rural town at all. That's not the first time I've been told something similar. My obsession with fashion has definitely helped me blend in, and college gave me the perspective I needed to adapt to a city full of people from all over the country and world. But that doesn't mean that I don't miss my family, or my friends that aren't with me in Chicago. It doesn't mean that Chicago doesn't feel huge sometimes (though it really isn't). I definitely love it here, but it's been a period of adjustment and learning. Adjusting and learning means branching out and meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends, getting involved with IUAA, running again, finding a yoga studio to call "home" and taking Oliver on long, beautiful walks through our new home city. It's a process, but we're making it through with the help of amazing people around us and our own wit and ingenuity.
And those are a high-level view of the challenges involved in moving cities. There were a lot of tears and there will be more, but I'm stronger for it and I'm living my dreams. Questions? Shoot me an email or facebook message or text or something!