One of the most exciting parts about moving is getting the chance to explore a new neighborhood. While you may be tempted to stay inside and unpack every last box until your house feels like a home, you might not truly feel comfortable in your new environment until you step outside and start exploring.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, everyone faces the initial uncertainty of not knowing where everything is. For the first few weeks you and your GPS will be attached at the hip. Finding the closest grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, and coffee shop will take priority, but then what? There’s so much to learn about your new neighborhood that it can be tricky to know what’s worth your time and where to start.
As soon as you move the last of your belongings into your new home, follow these tips for becoming acquainted with the surrounding community.
Print a map
While the map on your smart phone does a pretty good job of giving you directions, it doesn’t provide a bird’s eye view of your neighborhood. Mark up a printed map with a pen to note important landmarks and highlight the most convenient routes to work, school, and that cute little wine bar you want to get to know better.
Take a tour
No one knows your new neighborhood better than the people who live there. Befriend a neighbor and recruit her to show you around. She can point out driving shortcuts to simplify your commute and show you hidden gems only the initiated know about.
Ditch your car
If the weather permits, leave your car in the garage and take to the streets of your new neighborhood by bicycle or foot. Not only will this force you to absorb your surroundings slowly, you can also stop and talk to local shop owners and other residents. *If you’ve relocated to the city, you will find this easy to do!
If your neighborhood has a chamber of commerce, hop on the website and see if there are any volunteer opportunities or clubs you can join. Immersing yourself in a new community is often easier when you find others who share similar passions and interests.
Some neighborhoods have smart phone applications that provide an ongoing list of events and festivals and even coupons to nearby businesses. Check it often to stay on top of community happenings and attend as many as your schedule allows.
Farmers’ markets are popping up all over the country. If your neighborhood has one, visit it weekly to score fresh produce and mingle with other residents and families in the community.
Photography: Alan Schein/Corbis