Guest Post | Making A New City Your Home, Together

I have a guest post for you today from my friend Betsy, who began as a blog-friend and soon became a real-life friend that even Rob had the pleasure of sharing brunch with one Sunday! She and I have a lot in common, so I'll just leave it to her to introduce herself further.

rowing on the Mere in Thorpeness, Suffolk (England) in July 2010

Hello, dear readers!  I'm Betsy, and I blog over at Betsy Transatlantically - the "Betsy" part is obvious, I hope, and the "Transatlantically" part is a clue as to my topic here today!

See, I moved to London from Washington, DC in June 2010 because that's where my English boyfriend, Jon, was a student.  I'd lived there before, from September 2008 through August 2009 while I pursued my MA, and loved it and wanted to go back regardless, but I became an expat because Jon and I realized that our relationship had real places to go and we'd only get there if we were together.  We celebrated our wedding a month ago, so I guess you could say it was the right decision!  But I actually repatriated back to DC in the summer of 2012, which means that - although we've been lucky enough to visit each other a handful of times since then - we've been long distance for 16 months and counting.

a candid taken by one of our friends at our wedding on August 24, 2013

We hope to be reunited in early 2014, assuming all things go well with our visa - Jon will be the expat this time around!  Since Megan recently moved to Minneapolis to join her handsome fiancΓ© after being long distance for a year, I thought Jon and I could team up to share some tips for moving to another city to be with your significant other.  We Skyped about it on Sunday, and here's how the conversation started:

Betsy: Okay, so I'm writing this guest post for Megan about ending a long distance relationship by moving to a new place to join your significant other.  What would you say are good ways to make her city your city, too?
Jon: Gang signs. Find a gang, throw up some signs.
Betsy, warily: Have you been playing the new Grand Theft Auto?
Jon, proudly: Yes, yes I have.
Betsy: (sigh)

But if that's not your thing, you might want to try these...

Plan dates!  Check out a local website or magazine that has an event calendar for the area - try to find one that includes listings aimed at locals as well as tourists.  Get into the cultural current of the city and visit theaters, comedy clubs, cinemas, or whatever tickles your fancy.  You've been long distance for a while, so it's really important to make dating a priority.  You might as well learn more about your new city and its offerings  - together - while you're at it!

Explore spontaneously!  Start making shared memories in your new city by wandering around without a real agenda and saying yes to whatever adventure you stumble on, be it a local brew at a dive bar or a pickup singalong in a park.  Bonus points if it's a not-too-familiar neighborhood for both of you!  Be smart, of course, and stay safe; I wouldn't recommend giving yourself a "The Wire" tour of Baltimore, though Jon actually wanted to do this once when he came to visit me in DC.  But branch out from the familiar and find fresh stomping grounds.

Find your niche.  Yes, it's a city that you'll be living in together and, especially after having been long distance for a while, you will want to do everything and be everywhere together.  But it's important to carve out your own identity and make your own friends in your new town, too.  Look up clubs or groups that align with your interests and sign up!  You like painting?  Check out local classes.  How about running?  A sports store in town probably host weekly group fun runs.  Your new city has a groove for you - you just have to find it.

If you've got other ideas, we'd love to hear them!  Jon and I have already decided to borrow Megan and Rob's idea of trying a different place for Happy Hour every week.  Plus, we want to make a mini DC bucket list - we're going to come up with adventures in the area (and a bit beyond) that require some planning, like visiting Gettysburg and hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains - so that we have big outings to look forward to once he arrives.

I'm sure some of you have been through similar situations and have more suggestions, so head over to Betsy Transatlantically and let me know your thoughts!  I've got some autumn Pimms waiting there for us, so come say hello!