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Tips On Getting to Know the New Neighborhood

Congratulations! You've found a place to live.

So how do you connect and explore your new community -- and ultimately feel at home?

The road to easy acclimation will depend on three main things:

1. What you value most

2. What your local community has to offer

3. What the greater area has to offer

Over the years I've lived in a variety of places ranging from a quiet apartment in the middle of San Francisco, a tiny apartment two blocks from the beach in southern California, and a townhome 20 minutes walking distance to downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Here's how I acclimated to each city, and how you can do the same in your new town.         

In southern California, the ocean reigns! Hence the "two blocks from the beach" location. After driving on the freeway all day for my sales job, I wanted to be able to park my car at the end of the day and walk or ride my bike everywhere. Living in a small beach community of Long Beach allowed me this luxury.

The takeaway: I chose where I wanted to live based on the lifestyle I wanted, taking into account the local sights and the local transportation options – all of which helped me acclimate to my new hometown.

Taking acting and sailing classes through the local community college and the Learning Annex helped me connect with fun like-minded people in my neighborhood, along with attending local church services and events.  Jogging on the boardwalk that snaked three miles along the ocean to the Queen Mary was a way to meet fellow joggers and neighbors.

I also frequented the local Irish Mexican bar for good music and wine on a Friday night, or a local café for cappuccino and muffins on a Sunday, where I'd interact with folks.

The takeaway: Take advantage of local events to meet people; if you pursue things that are of interest to you, you'll meet people with similar interests, and create a ready-made social group.              

I moved to San Francisco without knowing a soul, so spent my first year living in a quirky women's residential house, with 80 women from all walks of life, from 18 to 85 years old. This was an incredibly rich experience, which helped me make friends quickly, led to volunteer and paying work, and to an ideal apartment in the neighborhood of Japantown.

From day one, I asked myself "Who do I want to connect with and what do I enjoy doing or want to learn?" This led me to joining my grad school alumni group, taking yoga classes, and learning massage.  I looked in the paper for fun events, like the neighborhood block parties around the city. I ran in the "Bay to Breakers" race and jogged through the city streets, stopping at the local Jamba Juice for a shake. I'd walk instead of taking the bus, and spend time in my "hood", whether sitting at outdoor café, or hanging out in the park.

The takeaway: You might not find all the interesting and cool things in your neighborhood by doing the 'obvious' things. Try activities you might not have considered before, and take a chance. After all, you've moved to a new place – maybe there's a 'new you' there too?

In the relocation to Asheville, N.C., caring colleagues took me under their wing, introducing me to their friends and hangouts. I gathered information on local events at the Visitors Information Center, took a trolley tour through neighborhoods, and rented before buying so I could get a feel for what part of town felt most like home. It was easy to get connected here, through joining the Chamber of Commerce, Business Networking International (BNI), Toastmasters, and the Asheville Track Club.

I joined a women's book club, which I'm still part of five and a half years later, and have taken classes at a local community college. Through friends and community newspapers and bulletin boards found at coffee shops and organic food stores around town I keep up on the latest class or soiree.

In summary: To feel at home anyplace, it's important to connect with your community and find "your people." Whether this means joining a ski or chess club, inviting a neighbor over for coffee, or volunteering with Meals on Wheels or Hospice, reach out. If you find something doesn't energize you, try something else, until you find your belonging place!

Barbara Brady is a Life Transition Coach and author of the book Make the Right Move Now: Your Personal Relocation Guide: http://snipurl.com/1k21n designed to help people discover and move to their ideal location.  Visit her website at: www.mycoachbarbara.com


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