How To Feel At Home In A New City
Moving to a new town is a pretty big deal, and one that includes many steps and phases of adjustment. Obviously there's the whole packing and unpacking phase, which often seems like it takes forever. But more importantly, is the act of trying to feel at home in your new city, which, in many ways, can take even longer.
While it'd be nice if you could snap your fingers and instantly feel comfortable, don't stress if you end up spending months feeling confused, uprooted, lost, or unwelcome. This is something pretty much everyone experiences after moving somewhere new, so allow yourself plenty of time to get your bearings and settle in.
As therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, tells Bustle, "it could take a solid year," or even longer to truly get used to it all. "Any new environment will feel different," she says. "So give yourself time and be gentle on yourself."
Walk the streets, linger in restaurants, find a great coffeeshop — whatever feels right. If you keep at it, it won't be long before you know the place like the back of your hand. But until then, here are a few tips for creating a routine, finding friends, and truly feeling at home in your new city.
1. Go On Mini Adventures
While you may want to go easy on yourself as you settle in and get used to your new surroundings, there's nothing wrong with doing a few fun things here and there.
"Check out new restaurants, museums, concerts — even if you go by yourself," Hershenson says. It'll help you get to know the area, give you a better sense of direction, and open you up to all the fun things your new city has to offer.
2. Look For People With Common Interests
It can take a while to find your "people" after moving to a new town. But it is possible to overcome this hurdle, slowly but surely, by making a concerted effort to surround yourself with folks who share your interests.
"Join a book club or a sports team as a way to meet people," Hershenson says. You could also take a class, or pick up a part-time job somewhere you enjoy hanging out — such as a bookstore or a coffeeshop.
By hanging around like-minded folks, you're bound to get a foothold in the social scene that suits you best. And that will definitely help you to feel like you belong.
3. Snag Yourself A Hobby
Even if it isn't with the goal of being social, consider picking up a hobby that'll get you out of the house and immersed in the local culture.
"Whether it’s dance classes, art lessons, or cooking class, finding something that interests you will help you feel connected to your new surroundings," Hershenson says. This is also a great opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, take advantage of your new surroundings, and try something new.
4. Reach Out To Friends Of Friends
If you know someone in your new city — even if it's just a friend of a friend — reach out and see if they'd be down to hang out.
"See if any alumni from your school live in your new city, or ask friends if they can connect you to people they may know," Hershenson says. Chances are, there will be someone willing to show you around.
5. Get Out There & Volunteer
Joining a volunteer group is another way to meet like-minded people, while also helping those around you. "Each town has tons of opportunities," real estate enthusiast Alison Bernstein, tells Bustle. "There are tons of organizations in each town — find what interests you and get started!"
6. Adopt A Dog
If you've always wanted to adopt a dog, and it seems like one may fit happily into your new life, then now may be the perfect time. Not only will they provide companionship — especially if you moved to this new city alone — but they'll also make chatting up other people so much easier.
"Many towns have dog parks, which become great places of socialization," Bernstein says. "Dogs are like children […] you can meet so many people at various dog parks and set up dog playdates."
7. Go To Your Favorite Fitness Class
Whether it's at a local gym, a yoga studio, or an early morning bootcamp, joining an exercise group can introduce you to potential future friends.
By going to the same classes at the same time each day, "you truly do develop friendships and bonds with those around you," Bernstein says. Nothing like sweating together, right?
8. Take A Neighborhood Tour
If you're struggling to get your bearings, or simply want to know more about the area, check out the local tourism company and sign up for a neighborhood walk or tour.
"It is a fantastic way to mingle with people and learn the history of where you live," Alex Lavrenov, an agent with Warburg Realty, tells Bustle. This will also help you develop an even deeper appreciation for the town.
9. Keep An Eye Out For Community Bulletins
Nothing will make you feel at home quite like getting to know your neighbors, so keep an eye out for community bulletins announcing BBQs, meet ups, and block parties. As Lavrenov says, "This goes the same for community-based websites like NextDoor, which always post events and gatherings."
It can take a minute to feel at home in a new city, but if you give yourself time, immerse yourself in the local goings on, and make an effort to meet new people, it'll happen before you know it.