Moving to a new city, especially one which you will be traveling across state lines for your relocation, can be a scary and anxiety ridden time. This is doubly true, at least, if any children are accompanying you on your adventure. It is ironic, as the unknown of what you'll soon be facing causes both is the source of stress and excitement. Assimilating to your new way of life is almost always a goal for people caught in this situation, so I thought I'd write a blog post giving tips on how to not just pass for a local by, but actually be considered one. Before I get to NWFL specific tips, let me give the some general advice to those leaving their old home to find a new one.
There's several things you can do to start getting used to your new surroundings before you even arrive. Since smartphone ownership is about as regular as pants ownership nowadays, hop onto your Google machine and do a general search of your new town or city. By reading their local newspapers and websites, you can learn about your new local school district, get a feel for nightlife and shopping or what sorts of restaurants seem to be popular, learn about your local politicians and assemblymen, the city economy and more. While you're at it, get the contact information for your new home's chamber of commerce and ask for information about the area. As a chamber of commerce is dutifully bound to bring as much awareness as possible to their city or town, you'll receive no argument to your request. You can also search for people, pictures, videos and posts about your destination on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube and more. I have friends who prefer searching LinkedIn, to get a sense of how the area works professionally.
Either download or buy a map of your new area. Make sure to study how the streets intersect and where the highway on and off ramps are located. Be sure to make note of where important locations like hospitals, community centers, parks and public transit stations are placed. Have your whole family study the map with you, especially if you have children! For you parents out there, look online or call their new school(s) to learn about any after-school activities or groups available. While you're on the phone with their new school(s), schedule an appointment to take a tour of the property. It's a great way to get some face time with the staff of your children's new school while getting a feel for its setup.
Ever hear of the expression "Sunday Drive"? Well, a Sunday, or any day really, drive is my next piece of advice. Explore the city, test out the routes you observed while studying the cities map, and figure out where all the shops and spots happen to be. Find out which parks look exciting to you, identify the location of places like the post office, grocery stores, movie theaters, malls, your bank, your favorite restaurant or just explore while keeping your eyes open for awesome local businesses. You can also do this on a smaller scale and just walk your neighborhood. Figure out if there are good hiking spots, parks or bike trails, while familiarizing yourself with the street names and how they connect. This also serves as a good opportunity to introduce yourselves to your new neighbors. By the way, don't just sit around your house waiting for the neighborhood to come by and say hi; be proactive! Bake some cookies or brownies or cupcakes and bring them around to your new neighbors. Let them get to know you and show that you want to be an active and helpful member of the community. A small gesture can go a long way, and whenever in new territory, it's always a good policy to make as many friends as you can.
While searching online, you should have identified the local newspaper; now that you're here, it's time to subscribe. You'll learn plenty about your new home while finding coupons to local businesses, plus get an introduction to the who's who in your city. Not having to have the area explained to you like you're an outsider will do wonders to help you fit in, and if you sprinkle some facts into conversations yourself, you'll eventually be known as someone who really gets what life in that area is all about, regardless of where you were originally from.
I've got a few friends who are farmers, and I always joke with them about how they get more use and less financial burden out of their children than most people. Just like growing crops and tending to livestock, when moving to a new city, one can use one's children to greatly assist in the endeavor of making friends and meeting people. Check the library for book clubs and the community center/parks/Y.M.C.A. for classes/sports leagues to interject your kids into their new world. They are going to need friends, and this is a great way to meet kids outside of their new school and neighborhood. If you happen to move during summer, classes and sports will be extra useful to help your children socialize. Not to mention, pickup and drop off time are the perfect opportunities to start meeting people around town yourself.
School is desperately trying to teach children that participation is a key component in life, so failure to join the PTA in your new city should be looked at as a missed opportunity. Find some local charities to get involved with too. If there isn't one for a cause you champion in your new region, start it and campaign. Sit in at city hall meetings and take notes. The more you are apart of your new city, the sooner you'll become a local.