Making Yourself at Home: How to Settle Into a New Community

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By Danielle Porter

According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans quitting their jobs is reaching record numbers in 2021, with more than 4 million people quitting jobs each month – many to pursue better jobs. You may be among them. Or you may be moving for other reasons.

Whatever the reason, if you are moving to a new community, it can be both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking at the same time. In addition to all of the moving parts of packing, moving, and getting settled, you’re also likely trying to form new social connections. 

While it will take a bit of time, taking proactive steps toward getting acclimated to your new environment will be well worth the effort. Here are some steps you can take:

Making the Move

Do as much “pre-move work” as you can to ensure the transition is a smooth one. For example, label your boxes per room, arrange for utility hookups the day you arrive, and keep personal necessities, including move-related paperwork and medications, with you at all times. If you’re moving with pets, make sure they are microchipped and have ID tags, and create a safe and secure-feeling location for them to retreat to in your new home. Identify the best local pizza or burger joint in the area so you don’t have to worry about meal prep on your first day in your new space.     

Getting Established

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you reach your new community is get comfortable in your new environment. Take time to fully unpack, decorate, and make the place feel like home. According to Moving.com, it can be stressful trying to live out of boxes while unpacking a little bit at a time, so set a timeline and do it all in one fell swoop so you can feel fully settled. Take care of all the small details, like changing your mailing address, getting your kids registered for school, and finding new service providers and healthcare professionals.

Explore Your Environment

Play tourist in your hometown and start visiting different points of interest. This will allow you to get acclimated to your surroundings and help you start feeling like a local. You’ll also want to explore your local community so you can identify the best places to shop, transfer your prescriptions, and possibly find new favorite restaurants. It will help to identify familiar shopping services and chains so you feel like you have a “go-to” when it comes to making a quick shopping trip, catching a movie, or getting your oil changed. While it takes a little bit of time to get settled, making an effort to put yourself out there will help you acclimate that much faster.

Start Socializing

While you might not be ready to host a block party barbecue in your first couple of weeks, by all means, introduce yourself to your neighbors, and if you’re looking for  fellowship through organized religion, start checking out different services to find a good fit. It’s important to get your kids socialized as well. While there are likely children in your neighborhood, it can also be helpful to enroll kids in programs at a recreation center or encourage them to join clubs and activity groups at their new school, like scouts or sports teams. Make an effort to meet other parents so they’re familiar with you and your kids and will be more comfortable having playdates. Kids sometimes need a little extra time to acclimate, so help facilitate those interactions as much as possible.

Get Settled Into Work

If you haven’t yet found a job, now is the time to start looking for one. According to Meijer Recruiting, you might check out online job boards or even go with a temporary job placement agency to get your foot in the door. If your relocation was for a job, you’ve likely got your hands full getting to know people while you’re coming up to speed on your new job responsibilities. Invite colleagues to coffee, have lunch in the break room, and look for ways to form collegial bonds that will make you feel involved and assimilated into your environment. You can advance new friendships by asking about places to go, things to do, and recommendations for getting familiar with your new community.

Get a Business Up and Running

If you’ve moved your business as part of your relocation, you may need to register as a limited liability company, or LLC, if you’re in a new state. Every state has different rules around LLC formation, so you’ll need to get up to speed on changes in regs. For example, search, “LLC Illinois.” You can do the legwork yourself, pay an attorney to do it for you, or consider using a formation service to file your LLC. Getting acclimated into the business community might involve joining a local chamber of commerce or a small business development center. Both venues will help you start building your network. These connections can also be beneficial when making new hires and choosing vendors. 

Join Newcomer Groups

Many large metro areas have newcomer groups accessible through platforms like MeetUp. You may be able to find people with similar interests and hobbies or just newcomers who are interested in meeting other transplants in the area. You can also join a gym or volunteer as a way to start making new acquaintances. According to AmeriCorps, volunteering can help you feel more invested in your new community. Also, check out online social media groups that cater to specific communities. You can post questions and read responses and get a feel for area events, as well as use the forum to seek recommendations for everything from a reliable plumber to a good high school math tutor.

Moving and getting settled can be a challenging life event, but putting down roots and looking for ways to become a part of your community can all make integration that much faster, and that much more rewarding.

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