Discovering Your New Neighborhood
One of the most exciting parts of moving to a new neighborhood is the opportunity to explore what makes it so special. From the smallest of towns to the most bustling of cities, every neighborhood has something unique to offer, and as a newbie in the area you’re at a unique vantage point to discover what that is. While there isn’t always time to get out there and immerse yourself right after moving day, make a point of actively engaging with your new community as you settle in. In addition to helping you feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment, making an effort to discover your new neighborhood will ultimately make you feel more at home. Here are some tips for getting started.
New place to call home
The most simple piece of advice is also one of the most effective. If you want to know what your neighborhood has to offer, go see it for yourself. Going for a walk is a great de-stressor during or after the unpacking process, and will allow you to better visualize your surrounding area. If you’re not much of a “go out for a walk” type of person, give your stroll a purpose and walk down to a nearby coffee shop for a pick-me-upper or to the hardware store to make some copies of your new keys. If you have a dog to walk, even better, as nobody appreciates the benefits of stopping to sniff – or see – what’s around than our furry friends.
Meet your neighbors
The people who live around you are a big part of what defines your community. Meeting your neighbors provides you with an opportunity to ask questions about your new neighborhood and possibly discover some hidden gems (or worthwhile information) you might have missed otherwise. As for how to do it, follow the golden rule, which is that a little friendliness goes a long way. Smile and say “hello” to neighbors who you come across, ask some light but engaging questions, and build rapport over time. Having a friendly acquaintanceship with your neighbors will help you feel more established in your new place, and could lead to additional prospects for getting involved.
Speaking of getting involved, sometimes the best way to discover somewhere new is through service. Volunteering in your new neighborhood is a way to invest in it more deeply and learn about some of the issues that shape it. It’s also a great way to meet people who share similar interests and values. Look for local volunteer opportunities to pop up, or be more proactive and seek out volunteer openings with organizations that are doing something important to you. There are tons of ways to get involved as a volunteer – and a ton of benefits to doing it – so after you’ve settled in a bit, start looking for ways to better both yourself and your new home through helping others.
You can find a big box store anywhere you move, but that little mom and pop shop on the corner is something you’ll only find right where you live. Shopping locally helps you support your community and what makes it unique. Local businesses bring local flavor to their environments, and the restaurants and shops that also call your neighborhood home can tell you a story about what’s important there and what brings people together. Even if you’re not quite ready to ditch online shopping for your basic necessities, make the diner down the street your new go-to breakfast spot or buy your wine from the corner shop instead of the grocery store. It’s a great way to engage with your neighborhood while bolstering it at the same time.
Check out local clubs and meet-ups
Above all, neighborhoods are made up of people. Immerse yourself in the community by joining a local club, which in addition to letting you pursue an activity you enjoy will also help you meet some of the people who you share your borders with. Thanks to the internet, meeting new people with similar interests is easier than ever before. Look to sites like Meetup, Meet the Neighbors, and Instameet, which can help you make the connection. Then you just have to take the step of following through. Of course, that can be the most difficult part, but if you’re new in town, it’s definitely worth getting out of your comfort zone and taking active steps to meet those around you.
Ask for recommendations
Take a short cut to discovering the best of the best in your new neighborhood by asking for recommendations from people who are already in the know. If your job is local, ask your co-workers where they recommend for, say, great live music or the best draft beers on tap (or both!). If you don’t know anybody you can ask, use a site like Nextdoor, which is basically a forum for individuals in communities to share information, ask advice, and get recommendations for new things to try.
Be a tourist
You don’t have to live in a touristy city to approach your new neighborhood from a tourist’s perspective. Just think about what someone traveling to your neighborhood might seek out – such as museums, local attractions and theater, top rated restaurants – and check those things out for yourself. Usually the things that draw tourists do so for a reason, so go see what all the fuss is about. You don’t have to do it all in one day, but keep a list of nearby places you want to visit and follow through as you can. Fanny pack optional.
The day will come when your new neighborhood no longer seems so novel and you’ve settled in to life in the community. Take the time in the beginning to go the extra step and immerse yourself in where you live, and you’ll feel a deeper connection and appreciation as the days, months, and years add up. A move to a new neighborhood is an opportunity to explore the world with a fresh set of eyes, so make the most of it and get out there. You’ll always be glad that you did.
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