The other day I was helping a friend plan his move. When I mentioned setting aside some time to settle in to his new home, he immediately responded that he can unpack at his leisure and dawned on me that a lot of people think settling in simply means unpacking. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Settling in after moving is so much more than unpacking. What about your utilities, and making friends and registering to vote and, and, and …
Clearly, there’s a lot to do to make your new neighborhood feel like home and unpacking is the least of it (although, it’s really important to unpack as soon as possible). But, if you set aside time and you plan ahead, you can really cut down the amount of time and stress it will take you to get everything done.
First, if you were able to get your utilities all set up before moving day, you are already a step ahead of most. Now you can take a load off, watch TV and eat dinner in a lit room as opposed to sitting on the floor in the dark. However, if you left all or some of them for the last minute, take care of these items first. You will immediately feel less stressed with the lights on and your Netflix working.
Once you have your utilities in place, and you’ve made a solid dent in your boxes, here’s a list of other things to do right away after moving (depending on personal preferences and lifestyle, of course):
- Bring your child on a tour of their new school
- Update your license and registration
- Register to vote
- Time your commute to work from your new house
- Check out local grocery stores
- Find the local post office, your closest bank, etc.
- Visit local houses of worship
- Scout out a gym, running route, pool, etc.
- Identify good spots for nightlife
Once you have the basics covered, the final step is making friends. I know it seems weird to put this on a to-do list, but the older we get, the harder it is to make friends “by accident” through work or school. Most people have to actively seek out like-minded people and then go from there.
This can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are introverted or shy. Hopefully you’ll be able to make friends at work (if you moved for a job), but you will still want friends outside of the office. Here are some easy tips to get you started:
- Knock on your neighbor’s doors and introduce yourself. Don’t wait for them to come to you with a welcome basket because it may not happen. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your friendship – they may be shy too!
- Join a gym or a fitness group.
- If you already know someone in the area, ask them to introduce you to their friends or to bring you along on their next outing.
- Visit meetup.com to find people who like to do the same things as you. You will most likely meet others who are new in town as well which is the easiest way to connect.
- Check community boards at your child’s school, your religious institution or even local small businesses for activities.
- Get involved in a local charity you believe in, such as a food bank or an animal shelter.
- Get out of the house regularly and go where the people go (parks, bars, restaurants, etc.)
Ultimately, it’s important to be proactive and to multitask when settling in after a move. At the same time you are making your house feel like a home with your belongings, you should also be making your new town feel like home by exploring the community. I’m sure there are a ton of tips out there. If you have some, please share them with us!