Once your boxes are unpacked and you’ve had the opportunity to celebrate, the adrenaline of your cross-country move may wear off. Suddenly it hits you: You’re in a new city and you don’t have the slightest idea where anything is. What are the top neighborhood restaurants? Which grocery stores have the best deals? Is there a park you should know about? The best way to get acquainted with your new hometown is by interacting with it. Here are some tips to get started:
Everyone has a hobby, and yours can help you connect with your new surroundings. Whether you have a knack for gardening or consider yourself a cheese connoisseur, you should seek out like-minded people when you move to a new city. Joining a meet-up full of folks who share your hobby or interest accomplishes two goals. While you’re learning about the best cheese shops in town, for instance, you can also make a friend or two.
Have you ever heard the old cliché: seven degrees of separation? Well it may be truer than you think. Even a modest social media request casts a larger net than you might think. After you’re settled in, ask your friends and family on social media about their recommendations for things to do in your new city. Maybe your friend from childhood lives there now, too, or has a cousin who does. Perhaps an old co-worker used to live in the area and can write a list of the best places to eat. Not only can your network point you in the direction of the best things to do, but they may be able to connect you with people who can show you around or become new acquaintances.
Conventional wisdom tells you to study a map and become familiar with the ins and outs of your city so you don’t get lost. One of the best ways to get to know a new place is by setting out on foot or in your car and seeing where the day takes you. Don’t be afraid to get a little lost—with a phone and GPS close at hand, of course! You may wind up finding a quaint coffee shop or fantastic sushi restaurant by happy accident. Talk to small business owners along the way to learn the secrets of their neighborhood.
Remember that finding your way through a different city takes a while. Don’t put pressure on yourself and try to become an expert in a single weekend. Set small goals. In the first month, you only need to nail down a few new restaurants and figure out where to go for groceries. When you start joining meet-ups and making nice with co-workers, your knowledge of the city will naturally expand. Keep a list of interesting spots as you discover them, since it’s easy to forget whether that little bookstore you passed was on 9th Street or 10th Avenue.
Getting acquainted with a new city is an exhilarating challenge that just takes some time and dedication. Rely on the kindness of strangers and your own inquisitive nature to lead you in the right direction. Before long, you’ll be the one offering advice to new neighbors.