One of the biggest challenges in a person’s life is moving to a new community. Everything about this experience can be difficult—surviving the rigors of the move itself, getting acclimated and finding your way around the new location, socializing and meeting new people all present specific challenges. But what happens when you move, not just to a new city, but to a totally different type of community environment? Making the adjustment from urban to suburban to rural or any combination therein can be particularly dizzying. Here are tips that will get you adjusted as quickly as possible.
Learn The Area
The first thing you’ll want to do is learn the physical geography of your new community. When someone gives you directions and tells you the name of a road or street, can you put that name into context and recognize it? This will go a long way towards helping you to feel more like a local. The best bet is to purchase a detailed street map of the area or access a quality online map. Start with your daily commute: from home to your kid’s school and then to work. Learn the side streets, both major and minor, to help introduce you to the region. If you are moving to a new urban area, then you should also invest in a local travel guide like Frommer’s for out-of-town visitors. This will help you immensely in the first few weeks.
Explore on Your Own
On weekends, go traveling. Explore as much as possible of the surrounding area. If you are in an urban environment, get on the public transit and just ride around so that you can learn the routes and neighborhoods. If you have moved to a suburban or rural area, grab the GPS so you don’t get lost and just drive. Let yourself find those small, out of the way locales or just enjoy the scenery as you get to know your new home.
Catch Up On the News
This is a big one. Nothing makes someone feel more like a local than becoming a regular reader of the local newspaper. First, you get to find out about all of the issues that are important to your community and what is going on “behind the scenes” in the local government. But what also makes this a great way to get into a community is the back sections of the paper.
Many papers will run reviews of local restaurants as well as guides to what you can do for entertainment on the weekends. Also, many will have listings for community meetings. These are great ways to get involved with your new home and mingle with new people, while making and developing friendships.
Finally, the easiest way to socialize in a new area is just to put yourself out there. Join a local religious congregation, community organization, book club, neighborhood association—whatever your interests, find a group that you can connect with. If you let yourself open up, chances are you will be able to make social connections that will put you more at ease in your new home.
Moving can be nerve-wracking, and transitioning between rural, urban and suburban communities is a huge change. But with the change is also a great opportunity to become acclimated to your new environment and to meet new people and form new bonds.