Getting the Lay of the LandOnce you’ve actually moved in and nailed down the obvious—finding the closest grocery store, drug store, Apple store, or whatever else you need—the town can seem pretty overwhelming. If you’re feeling a little lost, here are a few ways to make sure you get to know your new home quickly.
The Obvious: Use the InternetThe first thing that probably popped into your head is to check out places like Google Maps, Yelp, or Citysearch to find some of the best places to eat, hang, see movies, and so on. There’s a reason for that: it works pretty well. If you want to grab a cup of coffee or some lunch, hit up one of those sites and look at reviews of nearby spots. Of course, there’s no substitution for trying something out, so don’t be afraid to hop around, either. If you find a movie theatre that has the highest rating on Google Maps, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one or the best one for you—so plan to “shop around” a bit before settling into a routine too quickly. That said, the internet should give you a good start. An especially neat trick, if you’re looking for stuff that’s near you, is to just bring up Google Maps, centre it on your place, then search for *. The wildcard search works on Maps and will pretty much show you everything that’s nearby, which is pretty handy when you’re just trying to get a sense of what’s close.
Ask real peopleOf course, there’s no substitute to the advice of a real live person that you can ask questions and interact with. Chances are, you’re bound to have at least one or two people you know that live or lived in the town to which you’ve moved. Ask them for advice. Call them, go out to lunch with them, or just email back and forth and pick their brain. Ask any and all questions you have, from where are good spots to eat to where are the parts of town you might want to stay away from, or how bad the traffic is at rush hour (I learned this the hard way when I moved to LA). A really great (and geeky) way to compile this kind of advice is to create a Google Doc (or Google Map!) and invite the few people you know to collaborate on it. If you can get one person to get the ball rolling, you can probably get a lot of people to join in, adding their favorite places to eat and things to do in town (especially if they disagree with one another—people have a lot of pride in their favorite local hangouts and will gladly offer up their own advice). It can become self-sustaining pretty quickly. Everyone, even the new people I meet each week, are more than willing to contribute to the doc with their favorite spots/hangouts if I invite them as collaborators. I also highly recommend crowd-sourcing some responses on Facebook and Twitter, too. You might be surprised how many people are familiar with the area and can give you great advice about anything you need to know. Again, what’s really useful about this is it isn’t just some random reviews around the net—if you can follow up with people and get all your other questions answered, you’ll be a lot better off. There’s nothing wrong with asking other locals, even if they’re just people you meet for a few minutes on the street, in a coffee shop, or elsewhere. Dropping the simple “I just moved here” line works wonders. It’s remarkable how friendly and helpful people are to newcomers. They’re bound to give you a nugget or two of information you might not have gotten elsewhere, so above all, just be friendly!
Getting Out and Making FriendsThe other half of the equation is getting out and finding stuff to do with other people, and forming a group (or groups) of friends. It won’t just happen by sitting on your couch watching Seinfeld reruns, so here are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling.
Keep Up Your Hobbies (or Dig Up Old Ones)A great way to find people with similar interests to you is to get out and get active with your favorite hobbies, even if they’re ones you haven’t visited in awhile. If you like electronic music, there’s bound to be a group dedicated to that culture. If you are or used to be a gamer, find your local gaming shop and drop in for a Magic: The Gathering Draft. Even if it’s something you haven’t done for years, it’s a great way to get out and meet like-minded people. Meetup.com is a great way to find groups based on similar interests in your area—just type in where you are and what you’re looking for and you’ll probably find multiple groups getting together during the week. And, if you don’t find one (or don’t find one that suits you), start your own! Rarely are you the only one with your interests in a given town, and if you can’t find anyone, make them come to you. Apart from your own hobbies, I can’t recommend getting involved with community service and other local organizations enough. That may make you roll your eyes, but it’s something you don’t need any former experience to get involved in, everyone’s always super friendly, and at the very least, you’ll get some free DIY skills out of it. Anything that gets you out and social is going to make you feel better than sitting at home doing nothing, so you’ve got nothing to lose by getting out there.
Meet Friends of FriendsIf you already have a friend or two in town, you’re pretty lucky. Take advantage of it! Even if you aren’t best friends with them, accept any invitation you get to hang out—you might find a friend of theirs that you have a remarkable amount in common with. Don’t give up after one meeting, either. The more time you spend around people, the more likely you are to become friends with them, even if you didn’t originally think you would. After all, are we really in a position to be picky?Don’t be afraid to contribute to the group, either. Don’t let everyone else always make the plans and invite you, or you’ll seem like you aren’t interested. if you’ve got a place in that Google Doc you want to go eat for dinner, go ahead and invite all of them out. That way you seem like an actual contributor and not just a tagalong, and they’ll be more likely to think of you when other plans come around.
Take InitiativeYou won’t meet anybody just sitting at home alone, so when you have the opportunity to get out of the house, take it. Instead of getting takeout and heading home, eat out by yourself. Work in coffee shops. It may feel awkward at first, but there isn’t anything wrong with grabbing a book (or your favorite read-it-later service) and enjoying the sunshine a little. You never know when someone will strike up a conversation about what you’re reading. Again, don’t turn down any invitations you get. Even if it’s something you wouldn’t necessarily do, take the opportunity to get out of the house (unless, you know, it’s an invitation to go rob a bank—it’s probably okay to turn that down). Photo by Sahaja Meditation.
Don’t Stress About ItNo matter how much you put yourself out there, you’re still likely to have some time to yourself at home, and that’s okay. Don’t set your expectations too high, and enjoy the relaxation time while you can (I hear Portal 2 is great)! It may take some time, but things will unfold naturally. Don’t worry too much if you don’t slip into a routine too quickly. These tips are meant to help, but they won’t make a new life magically appear before you. As with everything, the more positive an attitude you have, the more likely it is that good things will happen. Source: http://lifehacker.com/5798087/the-stress-free-guide-to-settling-down-in-a-new-city