You’ve gotten the new job, you’ve managed the pitfalls of moving to a whole new city, and you’ve even unpacked, gotten your stuff organized, and set up utilities and everything. It’s time to turn your attention to the next part of your adventure, settling in and being part of the new city!
And how do you manage that? Have no fear, no matter how daunting the new city may seem, there are several tricks that can help you make your new residence into your new home.
You need to find some key places right away, like the grocery store, a pharmacy, a good mechanic, and a few reliable places to eat. But once you’ve done that, the best way to figure out your neighborhood is to just wander. If the weather’s nice, go for walks, runs, or bike around to get a feel for the terrain. If it’s too cold for that, open Google Maps, look for places that make you feel comfortable, like used bookstores, galleries, coffee shops, or whatever you’re into. Then wander to that spot and feel free to make wrong turns and get distracted on your way. Get a look at the neighborhoods, check out the small shops with hard-to-read signs around the corner. (Of course, always make sure you’re being safe and aware of your surroundings while you wander. Adventures don’t have to be dangerous.)
Ask Friends to Introduce You to New Friends
Do you already have a friend or two in the area? Well, you went to all that effort to move into their town, so they can return the favor by helping you meet new folks. Ask (or demand) that they bring some of their friends over to your new place for a house-warming. Find out what they do on the weekend and join them, so that they can introduce you around. And if you don’t have friends, ask people at your new job or school what they do for fun. You don’t necessarily have to socialize with people at work–that can lead to all kinds of complications–but they can at least help you get to know the town.
Do you like to play a sport, like kickball or softball? Are you into organized trivia nights or do you attend church? Even if the answer is, “I did once, but not lately,” it’s time to get back into it. There are all kinds of services, from Facebook groups to meetup.org, that can help you find a group who are there for the same reason. That can take the pressure off social anxiety–if you aren’t ready to strike up a lot of conversations, you can play the game or listen to the minister instead. But it’s a good way to meet people who have at least one interest in common with you.
Agree to Stuff
Maybe someone at work or a neighbor will ask if you’re interested in something that you don’t normally do, like karaoke or going to a free concert down at the park. It could be that you see a notice for a knitting club or a book club at the coffee shop. Take a chance and say yes to the new things. The only real downside is that you might feel awkward for a while and have to come up with an excuse to leave early. The upside could be that you make new friends and find a new hobby that you really like. But you won’t know unless you agree to go along in the first place.
Keep in Touch
Don’t forget the people you used to know. It helps to have people you can talk to, and social media makes that so much easier than it once was. Maybe one of your friends from your old city knows someone in the new town, or maybe you can just Skype them and talk about how things are going. That social safety net can make it easier to take risks, because at least you know there are people who care about you even if no one laughed at your jokes during trivia night.
And remember, it’s not a race. There’s no competition for who can settle in the quickest. Let the process take as long as it takes. You’ll probably get settled without even noticing because you’re having too much fun figuring out your new city.