If you’re wondering what it’s like to move to Charlotte from another state, just ask Eric Hooper. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Eric made the move to Charlotte in June 2021 and hasn’t looked back since. In his thoughtful article — one of the published pieces on his personal blog “The Mindful Zoomer” — Eric reflects on five things that he learned during his relocation to help inspire others to take a similar leap of faith. He provides you with insight into the barriers that he faced, the refreshing surprises along the way, and an unfiltered perspective on what it’s like moving to the Queen City.
This past June, shortly after graduating from Miami University, I accepted a full-time employment opportunity. My goal was to get a job in real estate which I was able to accomplish, but it wasn’t an easy process. Before finding this job, I applied for at least 100 positions. As excited as I was to finally have this monkey off my back, I had to prepare myself for the unknown — moving to a new city.
When I was applying to the jobs I mentioned, 95% of them were located outside of Cincinnati. Cincinnati was my home, where I had grown up, and where I spent the first 22 years of my life. However, I always felt this urge to move away. I wanted to move to a new city, make new experiences, and meet new people. After finding an apartment, packing up the U-Haul, and hitting the road, I was ready to begin my new journey in a new city.
Fast forward to now and it’s been months since I left Cincinnati and moved to Charlotte. It’s taken time, but I feel like I’m finally starting to find my footing in this new city. However, it wasn’t always easy. Early on, I found myself homesick, anxious, and unsure if I made the right decision. When you visualize your move to a new city, you think of everything that could go right. You imagine that you’ll meet tons of new people, have amazing experiences, and love the work that you do each and every day.
The reality of the situation is much different. You will have problems, feel anxious, and question your decision. Fortunately, things will get better, whether you believe it in the moment or not. Unlike me, you don’t have to move to a new city not knowing what to expect. These are the five things that I’ve learned since moving to a new city.
If you meet someone new and they ask if you want to go break into some cars, clearly the answer to that question is “no.” However, with pretty much everything else, definitely say “yes.” If someone at work invites you out for a drink, say “yes.” If you get invited to a networking event, say “yes.” When you move to a new city, you hardly know anyone, you don’t know your surroundings very well, and you definitely don’t know what tomorrow is going to throw at you. If you say “yes” to going out, networking, or grabbing a coffee, you could meet that someone who’ll turn a new city into a new home.
For me, I only knew one person when I moved to Charlotte. Although I’ve met friends through that person, I’ve also been forced to step outside of my comfort zone — for instance, going to apartment socials not knowing a soul, joining a new gym where the trainers already know everyone by name, and going to football tailgates all by myself. Being alone in a new city can be scary, but it can also be exciting. All you have to do is say “yes.”
If you’re coming out of college, more likely than not, this is the first time you’ve really had to focus on handling your own finances and paying bills. If you listen to any financial guru out there, they’ll tell you to move in with your parents, never eat out, and stack that cash. However, if you’re moving to a new city, that’s just not possible. Being able to save money and not paying rent can be pretty cool, but so can moving to a new city.
Living in a new city, you’ll have to sacrifice money for experiences. You’ll have to pay for rent, utilities, cable and internet, groceries, and the list goes on and on. That being said, the intangible benefits you’ll gain from moving to a new city will far outweigh the money you have to spend. You’ll meet new people, have new experiences, and gain the self-confidence you never thought you could develop. Sure, you might be strapped for cash and dislike seeing your bank account so low, but who cares? You’re in your early 20’s and in the grand scheme of things, that $13 glass of bourbon you bought on a night out won’t matter.
When I moved to Charlotte, I felt like I needed to make tons of new friends immediately. As time passed and I hadn’t made a hundred new friends in a week, I started to get anxious and doubt if I could make this move work. However, I found comfort in a phrase I’m sure you’ve heard often — “quality over quantity.” I was spending so much time worrying about meeting people that I wasn’t spending time forming meaningful relationships with anyone. Give yourself time when moving to a new city. It’s not easy meeting new people and it’s not easy to turn an introduction into a friendship. As with anything in life, these things take time, so give yourself some.
Ever since moving to a new city, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for being kind to everyone I meet. When I was in college or even in my hometown, I was comfortable. I had my friends from high school, college, and sports, and I never felt like I needed to go out of my way to meet anyone else. I never knew what it felt like to be the new guy when everyone around you is already comfortable with each other. Whenever anyone would go out of their way to talk to me or invite me somewhere, it meant a lot to me. Point being, if you’re kind to everyone you meet, then they’ll reciprocate that kindness right back.
This one might be easier said than done, depending on the type of person you are. For me, I’m definitely an introvert and a homebody. There is nothing I would rather do on a Friday or Saturday night than sit on the couch and watch Netflix. Being alone is easy and comes naturally to me. However, no matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert, being okay with being alone is crucial to your life in a new city. If you’re able to find happiness on your own, then you’ll naturally attract people to you. People don’t want to feel like you’re dependent on them for your happiness because that’s not fair to the other person. Be okay taking a walk by yourself, eating out at a table for one, or catching up on your favorite Netflix series. Find happiness in solitude.
Moving to a new city can be the scariest time of your life, but also the most fulfilling. I never knew what to expect when I moved to Charlotte besides the visions I conjured up inside my own head. Looking back five months ago, was it as glamorous as I expected? Definitely not. Was it one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself? Absolutely. If you’ve just moved to a new city or are thinking about doing so, just get out there and do it. You’ve got nothing to lose.