All your stuff is finally at the new house. Most of it is unpacked. You've started hanging your favorite paintings and filling shelves and table tops with your most cherished sit-abouts (that's Southern for tchotchke, y'all). Your chocolate lab Elvis has even found a favorite napping spot. So your new house is starting to feel homey, but you're not quite as at home in your new town. You miss your favorite coffee shop and the park where your daughter took her first steps. And you've got no idea where to go for a good, long run. But the truth is, even though you miss your old hometown, you're open to giving the new place a shot -- you just don't know where to start. Here are five important tips that will have you settling in to your new town in no time.
If you're moving to an unfamiliar location, treat traveling to your new hometown like you would if you were a tourist. Hit the bookstore or go shopping online, and arm yourself with up-to-date street maps of your city or town and the surrounding area as soon as possible. If you can, purchase a few guidebooks for the area as well. You can use the maps to figure out key routes, like the quickest way to get to work or school. The guidebooks will highlight sights to see and places to visit along with listing where to dine and shop. If you can't afford a guidebook or don't have time for this type of recon before the move, hit the town's visitor center or chamber of commerce once you arrive. Or, do it all online; many towns and cities host detailed Web sites brimming with information for newcomers.
If your children are moving to a new school, try to find some time to volunteer for school activities. This will help you get to know the school and help you understand any problems your children experience as they get oriented to a new routine. If you don't have children, you can still volunteer. Go online to find out about area nonprofits that can use your help. Many cities also have local service organizations, so you can help your new community in a variety of ways. Not only will you get the satisfaction of helping others, but you'll also be socializing with and meeting other volunteers -- like-minded but diverse individuals who could be potential new friends.
One of the easiest ways to get the scoop on your new hometown is by reading the local paper and any other regional periodicals you can get your hands or eyes on. You can find many of these types of publications by the rack -- and for free -- just outside the grocery store or pharmacy. But you can also find their Web sites, too. If you don't know the names of any publications, links should be available on the city's visitor center Web site or chamber of commerce site. And don't stop there. Does your new neighborhood publish a newsletter? Does the local moms club host a Facebook page? All of these will provide valuable information about community events, clubs and organizations you can join, and restaurants and retail spots you can visit.
OK, this hint should speak for itself, really. Who doesn't need a library card, right? If you want to consolidate the suggestions from the previous page with granting yourself access to a host of other reading, viewing and listening materials, just visit the local library. It's truly the all-in-one stop every newcomer should make. There you'll be able to read all the local papers and magazines that are published in your new hometown. You'll also be able to peruse the bulletin board to find out about a variety of community-sponsored activities, local organizations and clubs. You'll also have access to popular reading materials and DVDs to keep you and your family entertained as you get adjusted to your new home. And if you live in a college town, take a trip to the main library on campus; colleges and universities often offer lending privileges to local residents for a modest fee.
If you're fortunate, your new neighbors will have already greeted you as you moved in or shortly thereafter. But perhaps you moved in during summer vacation or the middle of the holidays, and you haven't had time to meet anyone. A fun way to get to know the other residents on your street is by having a housewarming party. And you don't have to limit the guest list to your neighborhood. Invite some people from your workplace and some of the parents you've met at your kids' schools. People often feel obligated to bring something to a housewarming. If you want to avoid having your guests spend money on unnecessary gifts, ask that they each bring a card listing three favorite things to do or places to go in your community. You'll learn more about your new town and your new friends all at the same time.
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