7 Meaningful Ways to Get to Know Your New Neighborhood
Moving to a new home can be emotionally jarring, to say the least. Throw everything you own into boxes, move them to an unfamiliar space and try to convince your brain that you live there now. For me, this whole process spikes my fears of instability. I don’t know where anything is, I can’t quite find a place to rest and my to-do list literally surrounds me in piles of unpacked boxes.
But exploring your new neighborhood in these early days is an excellent way to gain a bit of footing. This is also a great tool if you’re still looking at homes or apartments and aren’t sure if you’ve found your dream spot. But how do you make it your own? How do you know it will be a place you’ll feel both welcomed and encouraged to grow?
Let’s explore a few tips for exploring a new neighborhood both before and after your move to a new home.
1. Visit in the Morning and Evening
One of the most disorienting things about moving to a new city is figuring out the vibe of each neighborhood. Even if you know the town relatively well, it’s hard to know how your small daily habits will change without spending time settled into the space.
Some of the best advice I ever received was to visit a potential neighborhood both during the day and at night. The energy of an area can completely shift when the sun goes down – either filling with a bustling social scene or completely emptying out.
Transportation changes as well. We once lived in an apartment that seemed quiet when we visited in the afternoon. On our first night there, we learned that our corner was close to an intersection that stopped up with honking traffic during morning rush hour.
On the other hand, there are parts of cities and suburbs that simply come alive at night. You could miss out on a secret hot spot just because you visited on a Sunday afternoon. Visit twice to figure out the personalities of a neighborhood and the day and nighttime crowd can transform a place.
2. Check Out the Town Calendar
I like to think of adjusting to a new neighborhood like arriving for freshman year of college. Get involved in activities and you’re more likely to find your community.
Check out the town’s chamber of commerce calendar before or just after moving to check out farmer’s markets, children’s activities, or street fairs. What type of parades happen during the year? Are there festivals?
If you’re active in a specific religious or social community, how are they represented in the events throughout the town?
3. Find the Local’s Favorite Spots
Local coffee, cocktail and brunch spots can be a key into the true neighborhood vibe. If you’re moving to a city, avoid anywhere you would be drawn to as a tourist. Where do the locals go for a drink or a cup of coffee? This a great way to get a sense for how people interact with each other in town.
It can also be very helpful to spend some time at the local grocery store, both before and just after your move. Learn the ins and outs of your shop and get a sense for how people in the area work around one another. This can remove the initial shock after you move in and you just want to have a fridge full of food to feel settled.
“More often than not, this is the top way I receive tips about the best spots in town. The small business owners have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the area. They make great allies when you feel like an outsider.”
4. Map Out Your Routine
On that note, be sure to map out your daily routine before you make the move. This will cut down on that weird disorientating feeling moving can trigger. Make a note of the following spots for an easy transition:
- Work commute
- Grocery store
- Doctor’s office
- Parks and spots for kids
- Gas station
Jumping back into a routine after such a big switch brings its own challenges. Prepare to stop for coffee or a treat before or after your first day back to work after the move. This removes a bit of stress from the transition.
5. Join Local Organizations
I rarely feel like a true member of a community before I get a library card. After you get a bit settled in your home, find the local groups that can help you find a community. The library is often a great place to start for finding friends, free community groups, and for taking the kids out. If you’re having trouble adjusting your identity to the new area, explore how the town takes care of its residents.
6. Settle into Some Green Space
A bit of solitude can be really helpful after the chaos of moving homes. It can be difficult, especially for an introvert, to spend so much time in a new space with unfamiliar faces. Snoop out your local park to take some time for yourself if you need a little breather from a house full of boxes. Check out green space, hiking trails, or even town centers that have a bit of shade to regroup and spend some time on your own.
7. Talk About Your Arrival
I’ve found local business owners to be some of the most inclusive members of a community. When I move to a new area, I like to mention that I just moved to town and am looking forward to stopping by.
More often than not, this is the top way I receive tips about the best spots in town. The small business owners have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the area. They make great allies when you feel like an outsider.
As stressful as moving can be, exploring a new neighborhood is an amazing opportunity to break free from old habits. The energy of an area can reinvent your identity, welcome new friends and introduce you to new passions. If you need a break from unpacking or just starting your house hunt, start with the neighborhood. This could be the key to finding your next true home.
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