By Chris Watson

You’ve got your car loaded with your stuff. You’re trading four stoplights for 40,000. Whether you’re traveling 250 miles or 2,500 miles, leaving the comfort of your hometown for life in the big city can be stressful. If you are going from small town bonfires to big city lights, here are some helpful tips from someone who has made the big move more than once:

1. Connect or Reconnect with Friends

This is where social media can really come in handy. If you have a Facebook profile, keep your friends up-to-date about your approaching move. Why? Because one of your friends or acquaintances could already live in your destination city or know someone who lives there. It is easier to become accustomed to a new city when you have someone who knows the city show you around. Plus, you don’t want to spend all of your downtime in your apartment, eating pizza and watching Seinfeld reruns. So make the effort to find someone in your destination city who knows the cool areas of town to visit, the bad areas of town to avoid, and little areas in between. It can save you a lot of time and lonely weekends.

2. Hold the Comparisons

Sure, it took you seven minutes to drive five miles in your hometown. And Ethel’s Burgers or (insert small-town hamburger place) is far better than In N Out could ever hope to be. You’re going to get homesick every now and then, but you can’t compare your new city with your hometown. Whether it was for a job, to pursue career opportunities, or just a new beginning, you have to remember why you moved to your current city. So find things that you like about your new place and focus on them. Always try to have fun and immerse yourself in your new place. That way, you’ll have some stories to tell when you visit your hometown.

3. Explore the City

I have moved to three major cities. Each time, I spent some of my free time exploring my new city. I would learn the major roads in the new city and spend time “getting lost.” I would usually start out by exploring the area closest to where I lived, usually by walking around the neighborhoods. Then I would slowly expand the areas I explored. I discovered many great places by taking the time to get to know the city. Plus, it is less stressful to meet up with someone when you have already explored the area before.

4. You’re Not Alone

Moving away from home and adjusting to life in the big city can be a challenge. The key is to not let the stress overwhelm you. Take time out to explore the new area and don’t be afraid to make new friends. Take care of yourself physically by getting enough exercise and sleep. You would be surprised how much healthy habits are linked with regulating stress.

And remember that millions of people have relocated to bigger and better things–and so can you.  

Chris Watson recently relocated from Oklahoma to California. Having lived throughout Oklahoma, Texas and California, he has become a self-taught expert in packing up and relocating. When he isn’t working, he is usually developing screenplay ideas, playing kickball, or looking at pictures of cats and dogs on Reddit.