The best way to feel like a local after a move is to get involved in the community. But how exactly do you do that? Let’s explore the different ways that you can start to learn your way around town, find things you love, make friends and feel like you’re a part of your new hometown.
Take time to walk around. You should do this in your neighborhood and in your city’s downtown area. This will help you get a feel for the place and help you feel more grounded in it. You’ll discover shops and other places you may have missed otherwise, which may include a local library, a museum or art exhibit, and a park or two.
While you’re out, ask the locals where they go. You may want to start by talking to the baristas at a cafe, or employees at any business when they’re not too busy. Let them know you’re new to town and want to familiarize yourself with it. Not only will they give you advice on the best restaurants, parks, and so on, you’ll probably get a bit of local history. Then, be adventurous for the next few weeks or months. Try different restaurants. Check out the tourist attractions so that you’re familiar with them. Soon, you’ll discover what places you like best and can settle into more of a routine.
Of course, you’ll soon run out of money if you eat out all the time, so try several local grocery stores and hit the farmers markets. At the latter, you’ll truly get the “flavor” of the area in terms of fresh food available.
Learn the names and locations of the main local roads, including the freeways, and where nearby towns are located. This will not only help you understand directions better when people give them, it will help you feel like you really know the area.
There are plenty of opportunities to talk to people when out about town. Talk to someone in line at the grocery store. Is someone at the cafe reading a book you enjoyed? Mention that you liked it, too. Just be aware that people may not feel like talking, and read those signals. If you get the sense that they want to do their own thing after you’ve said hello, don’t push a conversation.
If your work sponsors activities, like team-building dinners, take part. Another good way to get to know people in your area is to do volunteer work. You’ll also be doing something good for the community, which will definitely make you feel like a local.
Rebuilding your social circle after a move can be daunting, but commit to meeting new people and you’ll feel like a local before you know it.
Sometimes after a move, we hold onto the little things, subconsciously thinking that if we change them, we’ll give up the part of ourselves still attached to where we lived before. Don’t worry; the town or city you came from will always be a part of you, even after you’ve fully made the switch to your new home.
Getting a local drivers license, registering to vote and switching banks will make you feel like a local.
Obviously, if you’ve relocated within the same state, you won’t have to change your driver’s license, but if you’ve moved to a new state, don’t put off making the switch. Not only will having a local license make you feel like you belong, it could also entitle you to locals only discounts.
If you want to vote in any upcoming elections, you will have to change your voting registration, even if you’ve only moved across town. In fact, this is so important that the U.S. Postal Service makes it easy. When you go to the post office to set up mail forwarding (or set it up online), you will get the option to register to vote at your new address. Do it. You’ll be glad you did when the next election day comes and you can simply go to the polls and vote.
Taking the steps in this article will help you feel empowered about your move, and better about your new city. Remember though that it will still take time to settle in emotionally. Give yourself a few months to adjust, and soon you’ll feel right at home.