So you’ve made the move to a new city. First off, a congratulations is in order as this is not a simple feat! Whatever the reason for the change in postcode, you’ve now gifted yourself another, not so easy but exciting task - that of getting to know your new town. Your new home may be smaller than where you moved from but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel big to begin with. If your move comes with an upgrade in size, it’s best to shake off that overwhelming feeling as soon as possible.
Thankfully, there’s a sure fire way to get familiar with your new surroundings quickly. It really is a no-brainer but surprisingly, many of us overlook this strategy. We do it with enthusiasm when we travel but rarely when we’re "home". All you really need is a pair of comfy footwear and an attitude for exploration. Get outdoors in your new city - it will surprise you how quickly the unfamiliar becomes familiar.
Shake off jet-lag
Occasionally this type of move requires crossing several time zones and therefore Mr. Jet-lag tends to come along for the free ride. One of the best ways to overcome this obnoxious companion is to do the opposite of what it encourages you to do. Fight off those sleepy feelings by going for a walk or run outdoors. Pick a neighbourhood that’s new to you, absorb some vitamin D while you’re exploring and voila, you’ll kill three birds with one very sharp stone.
Go on a city tour
Many cities around the world offer free (or ‘give what you can’) city tours. These tours tend to offer historical perspectives interspersed with quirky and amusing facts about your new city. It’s also a great introduction to parts of your city it might otherwise have taken you a very long time to find. Seize the opportunity - ask the local guide a question or two, and keep an eye and ear out for other newbies on your tour.
Consider this: how many people do you come across just by going to your neighbourhood post office? Even if you live in a fairly small town, the opportunities for interaction with others, be it with a neighbour, local barista, or bank teller, just by stepping out your front door, are endless. Often, however, we’re too inwardly focused and we miss out on making the most of these opportunities. All friendships have to start somewhere, right? The next time you head out to run errands in your new town, be present, and don’t leave the small talk at home. You never know who you’ll cross paths with.
Explore on foot
It’s not hard to believe that we take in a lot more walking through a neighbourhood than driving through it. With work commutes consisting mainly of driving or sitting on public transport, there's often limited opportunities to explore on foot, the best way to get to know your surroundings. Make time to explore your city on foot and set out with the intention of truly being in the moment. There are countless of charming, unique and strange parts to each and every neighbourhood, even if we’ve walked them through a dozen times. But you’ll need to pay close attention to details to notice them. In the long run, you may find you’re establishing a stronger connection to your new home.
Find your local park
Not all cities are created equal but every city has some kind of green space. When city life gets to be too much, as it often can, knowing where your local nature escape is can be life-saving. We can all benefit from a quiet place to disconnect, reflect, and just be. With the stress involved with moving to a new home, this may be your most important discovery.
Rent a city bike
Cities around the world are getting more bike-friendly. Ok - it’s actually debatable but city bikes for automated self-hire are slowly being put in place around the world. If your new city has one, take advantage. It’s a great way to give your feet a break and gives you yet another perspective from which to explore. Perhaps there’s a waterfront trail just waiting to be ridden?
What are your recommended strategies for getting to know a new city? Leave me a comment below.
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