Moving From a Small Town Job to a Big City Career

Smalltownbigcity_sept2011_webDeciding to relocate for work can be a very tough choice with many factors to consider. For some, choosing to pack up life and head for more opportunity could mean moving from a small town of several thousand people to a major metropolitan area with a population in the millions.

Preparing for a new job is tough enough with new policies, procedures, and supervisors to consider. Adding in the stress and headache of relocating to a new city can make it all very overwhelming.

There’s a strange paradox newcomers often feel when living in a major city. They are constantly surrounded by people, but can feel isolated and alone at the same time. People from a small town culture are inclined to have a more leisurely and open approach with each other. In larger cities, many are rushed with where they need to be and don’t have time for interruptions.

Adjusting to the culture shock can take a long time, especially if you move to an area without family or friends. Here are some tips to help you cope with adapting to your brave new world.

Do Your Research

Don’t go into things blindly. Find a place to live before you move. If renting, some tenants in large cities need at least two weeks to process your information and ready the rooms before allowing someone to move in. Get settled in before you start your new job to help make the transition smoother.

Calculate the cost of living, taxes, insurance, and other expenses before you make the leap, but also take time to look into the little things like parking, weather, public transportation options, laws, school systems, and population.

Once you’ve decided on the area to live in, figure out how it works. Being prepared for the culture of your new area will make things go much smoother. Find out the distance between your home and the office so you know how long it will take you to get to work.


It’s your city now, so get out there and meet it. Try to find a detailed map of your newcity and take some time to see it first hand. Make sure you’re aware of important things like local grocery stores, fire stations, hospitals, police departments, and banks that are closest to where you live. Also, take the extra step and introduce yourself to your neighbors. Many of them can have insights to the many perks the city has to offer.

Exploring the city will also help you figure out the shortest and easiest routes to work, as well as find the busiest and longest routes to avoid, giving you the best commute possible. Just remember to add in extra time for morning traffic. And, don’t be afraid to get lost. Finding your way back will only help you familiarize yourself with the area.

Get Involved

Making friends and acquaintances is one of the best ways to make the adjustment time shorter. That’s why it’s important to get involved with local clubs and organizations. It’s a lot easier to meet people outside of work if you get involved with something that happens regularly on a weekly or monthly basis. Whether you’re interested in sports or the arts, big cities will have a group getting together no matter what your interest may be. A good place to start is with your local chamber of commerce. Many chambers now have monthly professional gatherings.

Go ahead and challenge yourself to try something new. There is a lot big cities offer that small towns just don’t have. There are several charities and organizations that need volunteers, so use your free time to serve the less fortunate and meet new and interesting people at the same time.

Check with your company to see what community projects they’re involved in. Spending a Saturday building a house, helping out at a local shelter, or even running in a 5K that benefits a nonprofit is a great way to get to know your co-workers.


Sometimes the hustle and bustle of city life can be too much. It’s OK to occasionally take a break from the concrete and skyscrapers, and search out some flowers and fields. Many big cities have suburbs with a smaller-town feel, beautiful outdoor scenery, and less crowds.  So if you start to feel overwhelmed, spend a weekend or even just an evening out of town. 

If leaving the city is impossible, finding shops or stores that remind you of homecan help escape without leaving. Many coffee shops and cafés can provide a warm feeling of home when sitting inside their four walls, allowing you to relax and recharge for the next day at the job.

There are also many places in the big city that can provide sanctuary to the rush of city life. Find a park and spend some free time there. Being in nature can help expand your horizon and help you recover from the stress of the cluttered city.

Relocating may be a big decision, but there are several benefits to relocating for work. If the job is right and you’re in need of a good challenge, go ahead and take a chance on the big city.

For those who have already relocated, what have you done to adjust to big city life?


By Jared Cole

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