5 tips for surviving in a new place after quitting your full-time job.

5 tips for surviving in a new place after quitting your full-time job.
[Meredith Sell]

Six months ago, I was driving across the middle United States with fellow Bright Life Studio blogger, Katy Horst, in the passenger seat of my 2001 Toyota Corolla.

It was summer, and we were on our way to colorful Colorado. I’d quit my full-time-with-benefits job and now I was moving to a brand new place far from family and friends and everything I’d ever known.

I’d decided to move to Colorado for no reason other than I’d had the idea for about four years and just couldn’t get it out of my head. Now, six months in, I still haven’t questioned my decision to move here. Along the way, I’ve learned some useful lessons about transitioning to a new place without the luxury of a job.

  1. Read Orange is the New Black. (This is a recommendation of the book, not the show.)

The book is about a Smith College graduate who spent a year in a women’s prison (not voluntarily—she was a convicted felon).

You should read it to ensure that your new life in a strange place with no job is significantly different from her experience also in a strange place and also, initially, with no job. If you’ve quit your job to move somewhere new (and you have money in the bank to get you through until your next gig works out), your life as the willfully unemployed should not resemble prison life.

Wherever you’re staying, LEAVE. Get outside. Explore. Wander your neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods. Learn the streets and how to navigate them. Start building that mental map of your new home.

  1. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it.

Structure is your friend. And when you’re not employed, it’s easy to lose touch with that BFF who likes to hang out in workplaces via schedules and meetings and deadlines. So make yourself a schedule. Write it out. And then follow through.

Start by getting up in the morning, not the afternoon. If you’re like me and don’t like to wake up around other people, figure out when your roommates (if you have them) get up in the morning and then get up before them. There’s something about rising toward the beginning of the day that kickstarts focus and productivity—and you’ll thank yourself when lunchtime comes around and you’ve already knocked out some job applications.

  1. Make time for things you enjoy.

Yes, you need a job. Yes, jobs don’t find themselves. But give yourself a break. Do something you love (that doesn’t cost money). Here are some suggestions:

    • Read. Anything, but especially books (I highly recommend this one).
    • Explore. On foot, on bicycle, by car or bus or train. One of my favorite things to do at the first place I stayed when I moved here was bike the nearby trails to local parks and then sit in the grass and read.
    • Cook (and eat) good food. Self-explanatory.
    • Go to free events. I’ve found events through Facebook’s discover events feature, Meetup.com, and the websites of local universities and the library system.
  • Exercise. Because endorphins are super helpful when you need to stave off doubt or regret that creeps in after being unemployed and lonely for a few months, weeks, or days.

  1. Get out of your own head.

Meaning: Interact with other people. Even (especially) people you don’t know. Make an effort to be in places where people are, even if it’s just the grocery store or the public library. Start making friends and don’t be ashamed to tell them you’re looking for a job. You never know—they might be the connection you need (just don’t use people; not cool).

  1. Remember who you are.

Queue epic Lion King music.


Mufasa’s onto something. Life’s journeys have a tendency to tear us away from who we are and what we’re about. I’ve found journaling helpful for keeping me on track.

Why did I move here? The short answer is because I felt like it, but the longer is much more complicated and has to do with the storytelling opportunities that exist in Colorado with its abundance of outdoor adventure enthusiasts and my long-term goal of writing epic narrative features for magazines.

If I’m not proactive about being mindful, I can easily forget what I’m working toward and why leaving my steady job to move to a strange, new place was a good idea. Journaling and reading are two ways I keep myself focused. A third is another blog project I started when I moved out here.

Denver Box Life is a blog all about the CrossFit community in the Denver area. So far, I’ve done profiles, event and non-profit highlights, and a roundup of holiday CrossFit events in the area. Working on it keeps me actively interviewing people and writing—doing what I’m aiming to do professionally and preventing me from forgetting why it is I wanted to write in the first place.

So if I had a sixth piece of advice for people quitting their jobs to move somewhere new and start focusing hard on their creative goals, it would be: Have a pet project that can help you remember (and potentially realize) your long-term goals.

Read this, too!