Oh, Milwaukee. You are wonderful. With your never ending Lake Michigan shores, you make me feel like I live on a coast. Your beer and cheese culture is perfect for my bottomless stomach. Your underrated restaurant scene is magnifique. Don’t even get me started on the festivals, the hiking, and the midwest culture. You are home.
When I first moved to Milwaukee three years ago, you would have never heard me rave about the city this way. I grew up in Minnesota, I went to college in the Twin Cities, and when I moved to Milwaukee after graduating, I was convinced I’d only stay for three years before moving back. Three years is a long time, I thought to myself.
Well folks, I’m on year three now. Guess who’s still happily in Milwaukee? I even bought my first home, am living with my boyfriend (long distance no more!), and have a great circle of friends to keep me company.
When I first moved to Milwaukee to accept my first “real person” job, life was a bit scary. While you may not think the five hour drive/one hour flight is a far trek to my hometown, it wasn’t the miles that defined the distance for me, rather it was the level of independence and initiative it took to move to a brand new city without my family, friends, boyfriend, or any sense of familiarity with my surroundings. I not only had to adapt to a new lifestyle of a working adult, but I also had to make friends, navigate a long distance relationship, and feel the worst FOMO while my best friends and family continued to have fun without me. Can you see why I thought I may not stay for long?
Making Milwaukee feel like home took a long time and a whole lot of effort. It also took an open mind and being okay with feeling uncomfortable. Here are some of the ways I made a foreign-feeling city eventually feel like home:
Stick to your hobbies (and find new ones!)
Don’t assume that your passions and hobbies have to stay behind when you move, even if they have physical local ties! Chinese dance was a big part of my life back in Minnesota and I was sad to leave the local Chinese dance studio I grew up with. Immediately after settling into Milwaukee, I googled a local Chinese dance organization, cold-called a contact and am now teaching dance year-round! Keeping up with your hobbies can bring you comfort and activities to look forward to while you’re still trying to adapt to a new lifestyle. You may even find some new hobbies that spring up in your new city!
Find friends through common interests
Making friends in a new city can be very intimidating. One of the best ways to meet new people is to partake in activities where you might meet others with the same interests as you! Maybe your company has interest groups you can join or find group volunteer opportunities you’re passionate about. The options are endless. I made a good friend when the both of us were consistently going to the same workout classes at the gym. It’s easy to start conversation when you know you both have a common interest, or in my case, a hatred for burpees.
Getting out of the house and walking/biking/driving around is one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Exploring without anything but your own navigational skills (okay okay, and Google Maps) will force you to create your own mental map. I’m extremely directionally-challenged so this was an important step for me. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it probably took me a week before I didn’t have to use GPS to get to work. Exploring solo is also a great way to find the hidden gems of the cities which may eventually become your go-to spots!
Be okay with feeling uncomfortable
Even amidst the excited feeling of new-city experiences and adventures, I can’t tell you how many times I got that pit-feeling in my stomach from stress, loneliness, and homesickness. It will happen and you have to be okay with it. Eventually you’ll establish a routine and your life will start to feel normal again.
I’m so glad I gave Milwaukee a chance. I’ve learned that it’s definitely an underrated city. These pictures were taken at Lakeshore state park – Milwaukee’s only urban state park – just a couple blocks away from my condo! Doesn’t it look like I’m posing in front of an ocean?
I also I need a moment to rave about this dress. Let’s first get over the fact that I’m wearing white after Labor Day because ain’t nobody got time to care about outdated fashion rules. But for real, I absolutely love how throwing on this tie knot dress makes for an effortless look that can be dressed up or down. (Clearly I dressed down with my sneakers.) The white fabric is a bit sheer, so make sure you’re wearing nude undies (or none at all like me hehehe)! Or get it in another fabulous color here.
If you follow my instagram, you know I’m freakin’ in love with these Steve Madden sneakers – so much that I’ve purchased them in three different colors. You have every right to berate me for succumbing to my impulsive materialistic desires, but I will have you know…I have zero regrets. If you’re in between sizes, size down!
Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Have you moved to a new city recently? What did you do to make the city feel like home?