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How to Settle Into a New City

Published On: June 17, 2024By

How to Settle Into A New City

Moving to a new city is an incredible opportunity to experience a new place and meet new people. While the idea of starting fresh can be scary, embracing your new city will help you settle in faster and get accustomed to your new home. While everyone’s approach may be different, there are a few tried and true tips on how to settle into a new city. Getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things will be the best way to adjust quickly to a new city. Even if you are typically introverted, see how comfortable you feel getting a little more social, even if it’s just in the first few weeks after your move. Getting open and social early can make a new city feel like home so much faster than if you slowly allow yourself to become accustomed to it. Below are some of the best ways to meet new people, become familiarized with the area, and begin to settle into a new city. 

new friends in a coffee shop

Say Yes to Everything

The best, and easiest, way to get acclimated to your new city is to say yes to all new opportunities. Being open to new experiences will allow you to meet new people and establish a network of friends. Putting yourself out there from the start will make your new city feel like home faster and allow you to start making new memories. Plus, the more experiences you open yourself up to, the more people you will meet, and the faster you will become acquainted with the area. Saying yes can mean two things – saying yes to opportunities and experiences, and saying yes to being bold and introducing yourself to others. If you are in a bar or coffee shop and you overhear people your age talking about something that interests you, don’t be afraid to (politely) interject and see if they are okay with you joining the conversation. It can be a little awkward at first, but it’s a great way to quickly meet new people and make friends who you already know share some of your interests. As for saying yes to new experiences, if you see a flyer or post about an event that you normally wouldn’t go to – check it out anyway! The more you are out of your home and exploring your new city, the better opportunity you have to make new friends. Going to new places is one of the best ways to make friends in a new city. 

woman unpacking boxes in a new home

Unpack Immediately

There will be a lot of unfamiliar things in your new city, so make sure your home isn’t one of them. Unpack your boxes and get settled into your new city as quickly as possible. Having everything organized and in the right place will make your new space start to feel like home much faster. Being alone in a new city can be difficult, so having a space that feels like home will be really important. Plus, having a cool new space makes it that much easier to host new friends! You can’t invite friends to your home if it’s still covered in moving boxes and the walls are empty. Put up some decorations to make your new space feel more like home. Once you have that taken care of, you’ll have more time to get out of the house and start exploring your new city. 

man exploring new city on bike

Explore Your New City

You might not have anyone to explore with right off the bat, and that’s ok! Exploring on your own allows you to learn your way around the area better since you aren’t relying on someone else’s direction. Do a quick search of things to do in the area, both for tourists and locals. This will give you a better feel of the area and help you learn more about the hotspots of your new city. Take a ride around the city on your bike or car and start to locate the main streets and landmarks. Get accustomed to the different neighborhoods and what they each have to offer. Does one part of the city have a younger crowd with more bars and restaurants? Take the time to explore your new city and know where to go for all of your different needs and how to get there. This comes in handy when you start your new job or meet someone and they refer to an area or street name. Now you’ll actually be able to have an idea of what they are referring to. 

busy cafe

Find Your Favorite Spots

When learning how to settle into a new city, finding a safe place is key. As you’re exploring your new city, be on the lookout for new go-to spots. Test out some coffee shops, local restaurants, and essentials like hairdressers. Knowing where to go for your immediate needs will begin to make the city feel more like home. Plus, studies have shown that when you see the same people every day – even if you never talk to them – you begin to feel connected to them. It may sound odd, but knowing the people who have the same routine as you can be a great way to break the ice. If you both go to the same coffee shop every morning to get work done, maybe you could grab a table next time and work together. Or, if you have a go-to lunch spot and see the same person there all of the time, see if they want to eat together. It will require being bold a little bit, but the worst thing they could do is say no! And if it works out, you’ll have a friend in your new city. Plus, making one friend is the easiest part. After that, you get introduced to their friends and before you know if you have a whole group of friends in your new city and all you had to do was ask if you could sit with them. 

doctors office waiting room

Take Care of Medical Needs

Don’t wait until you get sick to establish your primary care physician in your new city. After you get settled in, search around for someone who fits with your insurance and your specific needs. The same goes for other medical needs like a dentist, eye doctor, psychologist, etc. If possible, ask around to see if anyone can refer you to someone with whom they’ve had a good experience. Joining NextDoor or a local Facebook group can be a great way to connect with neighbors and get their recommendations. Plus, it’s a simple question that can help break the ice and hopefully lead to more conversations down the line. 

public transportation

Familiarize Yourself with Local Transportation

One of the trickiest parts of moving to a new place is having to learn the ins and outs of their transportation systems. The best way to learn is by using it consistently to get a handle on the different routes. If possible, bring someone familiar with the transportation system for the first few rides to have them walk you through it. Another option would be to do research online before using the system or looking into any apps the city may offer for transportation. Being able to navigate with confidence will allow you to get to know your city faster and make it feel more like home. Of course, it’s important to navigate transportation in your new city safely. Make sure to test out your routes in the day when it is well-lit and safe. It may be overly cautious, but if you are unfamiliar with the area and already focused on figuring things out, it can leave you vulnerable. As long as you become familiarized with everything a few times, you shouldn’t have any issues. 

book club

Join a Group (Or Several)

Making friends in a new city is the fastest way to make it feel like home. Joining a group of like-minded people is an easy way to make friends in a new place. If you have any hobbies or interests, check out Meetup and see if there are any groups in your area that align with them. Join as many groups as possible to fill your time and expose yourself to new people. Get adventurous with the types of groups you look to join. There are things like adult intramurals, book clubs, art groups, houseplant cutting trade groups, trash pickups, gardening, wine/beer tasting, foodies, etc. You name it, your new city has a group for it. Even if it’s not something you’ve ever done before, be open to trying something new; if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back!

Avoid Going Home

If you live close to your old home, it might be tempting to go home on the weekends when you first move to your new city. It’s appealing when you are somewhere so unfamiliar to want to go back to things that are comfortable Try to fight the urge to go home in the first few months. Weekends are the best time to get out and explore your new home, and if you keep leaving, it will take a lot longer to settle in. The more you push yourself to get out and go find friends in your new city, the quicker you settle into a new city. It’s not easy, but feeling lonely in a new city can quickly take its toll. Really commit to making at least one new friend in the first few weeks in your new town to give yourself the boost you need to keep meeting new people. 

Look for Neighborhood Listservs

When it comes to learning about your neighborhood, locals are the best way to get information. Join your neighborhood group on NextDoor and see if there are any community groups on Facebook as well. These groups will keep you up to date on anything going on in your area and are a great resource for questions. You can get to know the people who live in your neighborhood. Plus, you can ask for recommendations for things like moving companies, local restaurants, service providers, etc. If you’re struggling to find friends in a new city, you can also just make a post asking for ideas of where to go and how to meet people. It may sound odd, but almost everyone in the group was new to the city at one point and had to do the same things you are doing now. They may have some really great recommendations on what you can do to meet people. Or, they may also be new and looking for friends and you’ve just made their day by being open about your struggles!

Reach Out to Friends and Family

While we don’t recommend going home, you should still keep in touch with your support system. Moving to an unfamiliar place can feel very isolating. Staying in contact with friends from your old home can make the transition a lot easier. Be open with them about how you are feeling and lean on them for support when you need it. Sometimes, all it takes is letting others know you need help to receive it. They may either know someone in the area or be able to ask around to see if any of their connections know of anyone. It’s so much easier to make friends when you already have a mutual connection. Having a “friend referral” can make it easier to settle into a new city. 

Give Yourself Time

Lastly, give yourself time to settle into a new city. Don’t get frustrated if you are a few months into your new living situation and still not acclimated. Truthfully, it is going to take around a year for your new space to fully feel like home. That doesn’t mean the first year needs to be rough, though. Approach all challenges and experiences with positivity. Before you know it, you’ll feel like a local and be surrounded by new friends and memories in a place you can now call home. Making the move to a new city can be challenging, but everyone started in the exact same place as you at one point or another. Friends and community will come in time and the stress of being in a new city will disappear. 

We hope these tips for how to settle into a new city help you embrace your new home. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences the shift to a new place differently. Don’t feel discouraged if it takes you a little longer to feel at home.

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