How to move across the country and live on the East Coast

By Kristine Xu

So maybe you’re thinking about coming to the Washington Media Institute to further enrich your education. Maybe you’re a fresh graduate who’s looking for the next step. Maybe you live across the country and you’re not sure whether or not it’s doable to take this next step on the East Coast.

For a fresh graduate who’s lived on the West Coast for most of her life, there was nothing more tantalizing than flying across the country to try and start my life on the magical East Coast. Now that I’m here, I can assure you that it’s completely doable — it just takes some planning and bravery on your part.

Now that it’s nearing the end of week 4 and I have a slightly better grip on exactly what it entails to move cross country, here are some tips and tricks to help you out.

Pack light

On an early morning at the end of August, I loaded up my mom’s car with a duffel bag, a suitcase and a backpack. That was all I was taking with me to the East Coast for the next three months. Packing light is essential to moving, especially if you want to do it on a budget and relatively stress-free. Pack only what you absolutely cannot part with because you can buy other non-essentials (such as an entire sock collection or all those outfits for going out) when you get here.

Travel efficiently

I went through four years of college without a car, and I didn’t intend on changing that anytime soon. I touched down in DC a week before the program began and I started researching all the ways that I would be able to navigate the city.

The most popular way of traveling is by metro, but that adds up overtime and becomes a bit claustrophobic. The base fare for riding the metro is $2 and that fluctuates depending on what time of the day it is.

Since I had spent most of college riding my road bike religiously to class, I decided to purchase an annual capital bikeshare pass for 96 dollars a year (or a measly 8 dollars per month!). But biking isn’t ideal when it’s hot, rainy or if my destination is miles away.

I finally found a happy medium through the bus, which isn’t as daunting when you do some research on bus routes. You can even download the NextBus application to help you navigate! My favorite route is taking the Circulator to Adams Morgan for just 1 dollar.

Mind your wallet

It’ll be tempting to eat out for every meal because you’re in an exciting new city with all of these food options at your disposal. That’s probably not the best idea when you’re living in DC on a student budget. Think of ways to minimize expenses by preparing meals at home.

Every morning I make sure to brew myself a cup of coffee and pack enough food for breakfast and lunch for the day. A thermos allows me to be on the go with my cup of coffee, while also reducing the amount of throw-away cups that I use. I also try and pick foods that are easy to carry and high in nutrition (fruits and granola bars) so that I don’t end up hungry. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to scrape together peanuts for your meal every day. There are plenty of ways to treat yourself in the district, it just takes some research and flexibility.

An apple a day

The last tip I have is to be conscious of your health. You’ll be working hard and managing a jam-packed schedule full of socializing, activities and events. The last thing you want to happen is to end up bedridden and sick, throwing a wrench into your routine.

Being healthy doesn’t have to be a huge life change, complete with early morning exercise and a vegan diet. Rather, shifting to a couple mindful habits throughout your day can go a long way.

I try and fit in at least two hours of exercise a week, whether that’s going on nice long runs through your neighborhood, choosing to walk up the stairs instead of taking the escalator, or even just walking or biking to class instead of taking public transportation.

I also try and eat a balanced diet. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating junk food as much as the next person, but I try and focus on eating healthy before I start foraging for snacks. It’s cheaper than eating out, it’ll help clear your skin, and it’ll give you more energy to keep going through the day to explore this wonderful new city.

I’m excited to call DC my new home and exploring all it has to offer. Even though I will always miss my home in California, I can’t believe I’ll be experiencing my first East Coast fall so soon!