Moving is hard work, but once you’ve unpacked your boxes and arranged your furniture, you can take some time out for the fun part of relocating: getting to know your new community.
There are a lot of things to do following a move. You have to find a new hairdresser, identify a place to take your dry cleaning, and figure out which local supermarket has the freshest produce, and make new friends. There are steps you can take to speed up the process of getting to feel at home.
Here are five tips for familiarizing yourself with your new surroundings:
1. Meet the Neighbors
When you get to know your neighbors, your community begins to feel more welcoming. One way to do this is to spend time in your front yard so you can chat with passersby. Don’t be discouraged if some people don’t warm up to you right away, said Cathy Goodwin, author of “Making the Big Move: How to Transform Relocation Into a Creative Life Transition.”
“Some will be eager to meet you and some won’t,” she said. “Don’t take it personally.”
2. Take a Walk
If your new neighbors don’t come to you, go to them. One of the easiest ways to become familiar with your surroundings is to take a walk. You could learn to find your way around by driving, but that wouldn’t provide opportunities to interact with people.
“If you have a dog it’s ideal,” said Goodwin. “If you walk around with a dog, people will greet you and talk to you.”
3. Check Out Organizations
Your neighborhood may be represented by a civic organization, such as a community planning group, a Neighborhood Watch group, or a homeowner’s association. Attending a group meeting will familiarize you with issues facing your neighborhood and give you a chance to make friends.
Don’t be shy. If you’re not sure a particular group is right for you, “err on the side of ‘I will give it a try,’” said psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, the author of “A Happy You.”
4. Explore Your Community Online
You can learn many things about your community just by surfing the web, said Amy Trager, a professional organizer based in the Chicago area.
“Almost every neighborhood has a Facebook page,” she said. “There are pages for elementary schools, high schools, and parks.”
Chambers of commerce often post information online about the communities they serve. For information on local businesses, Trager recommends using consumer review websites, such as Yelp.
5. Attend Community Celebrations
Attending special events, such as parades, Oktoberfests, carnivals, or street fairs, is a good way to get to know your new community. In many areas there are free publications that publicize neighborhood events. You may find them at public libraries or convenience stores. Lombardo says you shouldn’t forget to check out the announcements that often are displayed in the windows of local businesses.
Each community has its own personality. If you find ways to connect with people and places, eventually your new neighborhood will feel like home.