It’s been a month (at the time of writing this, but probably longer, because I’m behind on just about everything these days) since we moved to Chicago. We’re mostly settled in, and we just had a conversation about how it feels like we’ve been here so much longer than a month. Whether it’s a local move to a different part of town, or a cross-country move, there’s always an adjustment period that comes with the territory. But there’s a few things I’ve learned to do early on in a new city to make it feel like home. I’m sharing those tips below!
Locate the Necessities
One of the first things I do when I get to a new neighborhood is find all of my necessities. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, family doctor, vet. I map out all the things I know I’ll need early and often. Once I figure out where they’re at, I take a little trip to check them out. If I decide I’ll call those places “home”, I save them so that I can find my way back there until I’ve memorized how to get around. I use an app called Mapstr, which allows me to save all the different locations I want to remember, and I can even add tags so that they’re grouped into categories. It’s a free resource that I’ve found really useful in Dallas and in Chicago! It’s even great for saving your favorite places when you’re on a trip so that you can return there next time you’re visiting.
Find your New Spots
The best part of moving is exploring your new hood! Trying out local coffee shops, nail salons, dry cleaners, ice cream shops, and restaurants is so much fun. It’s great to continue to explore even after you’ve settled in, but you’ll want to have your “faithful” places that you know you can find an outlet for your laptop, a waffle cone you love, and a place that your friends and family will enjoy when they visit. This isn’t groundbreaking advice, but using apps like Yelp have really helped me locate the different options to explore. Doing a quick Pinterest search of your new area will often provide you with tons of tips and recommendations from travel bloggers. Some of it might feel touristy, but since you’re new, you won’t mind! Better to do that stuff in the beginning, so that you can sit back and judge with the locals later on.
Try New Things
The best time to get involved in new activities and hobbies is when you’re brand new to the area. You have to rebuild your life and your schedule anyways, so it’s the perfect time to start incorporating the things you’ve been wanting to try into your routines. I have a list of activities that I keep telling myself I’d enjoy; learn Spanish, learn to play the guitar, do an open-mic comedy routine. The time is now, friend. I’m talking to both you, and myself.
Attend Local Events
Festivals, parades, workshops, shows, tours… there are so many things to do, whether you live in a big city or a small town. But I’ve learned that those things don’t just fall into my lap. I have to be diligent about finding out what’s going on around me and making plans to attend. Facebook Events is a great way to learn about what’s happening locally! Other resources are local print magazines that you might find in bars and restaurants, digital articles like Time Out, and signing up for newsletters of organizations that piques your interest. My current favorite newsletter? The Real Dog Moms of Chicago.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to meet new friends is through attending classes at the local fitness studios. It’s also a great way to hear about events that are going on. And there’s no shame in telling people that you’re new to the area! So many people love to offer tips and advice, and hand out their suggestions about where to go for the actual best deep dish pizza. Because I have a little bit of an issue with commitment, I’m not a fan of gym memberships or buying credits at a specific studio, especially in a new place. It feels too limiting to commit to just one. When we moved to Dallas, I started using ClassPass and it’s been a game-changer. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an app that’s connected to tons of local studios all across the country. You purchase monthly credits through the app, and you can use those credits at any studio that’s partnered with ClassPass. It’s pretty great – I highly suggest giving it a go if you’re looking for a way to learn a new area, meet new friends, or find a new workout that fits for you. (Get $30 in free workout credits here.)
I know it’s easy to forget this, but there’s a key word in social media; social. Have you seen the new(ish) Facebook commercials about how Facebook Groups were made to bring us together? There’s also an adorable one about daddy’s bringing their little girls to baseball games. So precious. Anyway, social media is a great way to connect with and make friends all over the world, but it’s also incredibly useful for making friends in your own backyard. The majority of my friends started as social media connections. In Dallas, I met an incredible group of blogger girls that became real life friends. Here in Chicago, I’ve already connected with and met a few of my Instagram friends for coffee. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the people that you’ve been following or that follow you to ask for recommendations, and send out an invite for a coffee meet up too!
I hope that if you ever find yourself in a new city, some of these tips will help you begin to settle in and embrace your new life! Speaking from experience, I know that change can be so uncomfortable, but with it also comes a blank slate that allows room for endless possibility and something beautiful to be created.