5 Ways to Get Settled in Your New Neighbourhood

Neighbourhood

Moving can mean different things depending on where you are in life. As a child, all impetus is on your parents, but new schools and new friends can be a daunting hurdle. Many young adults move out of ‘home’ for university or for life and work opportunities in new towns, cities, and even countries.

As we get older, we move to allow for a growing family, for work opportunities, then perhaps downsize to cater for a smaller household. Perhaps, we move to finally realise the house of our dreams (or a house fitted to cater to whatever the future may hold). Or, to minimise the everyday drudgery in order to get the most out of life! (A tip: link up your household appliances to the internet to self-automate that vacuum cleaner, kick the heating into gear before you arrive home or even order your shopping through Amazon’s Alexa!)

Whatever your reason is for moving, there are always challenges - and that’s beyond all the ‘life admin’ required to pack up and leave one address for another. We are social creatures, and moving away from our habits, our immediate friends, neighbours, work colleagues and even family members, can leave us feeling daunted, overwhelmed, and sometimes isolated.

Garnering some simple tips on what to do when you arrive is a bit of a no-brainer and can make all the difference. Why not swap that first month or two of loneliness for settling into a vibrant new social scene as soon as possible? On a deeper note, we all feel safer when we know we can call on a next-door neighbour, local friend or new connection; both in terms of being a salve to sudden pangs of loneliness and for more practical reasons. These could include being locked out, feeling safe from the threat of crime, and for our own bodily safety from accidents like slips and falls in our homes.

So without further ado, here are a few easy to instigate tips to help you settle into a new environment.

Become a “Yes Man”

Yes, whether you’re a lady or a gent, your new go-to response should be “yes, that sounds great, I’d love to”! Whether it’s an activity you’ve never heard of, one that makes you feel a bit nervous or one that takes you out of your comfort zone - give it a go. Who knows, you might find a new personal passion in an activity you’d never considered! More likely, though, you will have a laugh with someone new and even if you vow to never do said activity again, you’ve created foundations upon which a new friendship could be built. 

Lose the routine

Always order the lamb Rogan Josh and a Peshwari naan from your favourite takeaway on a Friday evening? Throw your order out and opt for something you’ve never tried before! You’ll never find new tastes if you don’t have a break from the old ones. This is a metaphor which obviously stretches well beyond your takeaway tastes, but food is always a good place to start. You’ll never find that new Chinese restaurant, little trattoria run by a friendly family from Naples, or that smiley new friend behind the counter in the local coffee shop if you always stick to the humdrum.

For just a month, ban repeats. Try something from a new restaurant. Opt for that exercise class you’ve never tried. Walk to work along the canal instead of taking that short bus.

It doesn’t mean you can’t tap back into previous passions. Volunteered for a national charity? See if there is a local branch you could hook up with. Have a group of friends who might have facebook connections? Call on their assistance online to see if they can set you up with anyone in your new area. Refuse to do the same thing the same way twice, even for just a month, and see for yourself how many new experiences (and new favourites) you acquire.

Don’t feel afraid to go it alone

Being alone is often, ironically, the best way to meet new friends. It can feel daunting to take yourself out for dinner alone, but once you’ve settled down and got your confidence behind your book, put it down for a while and look around yourself. There are always people keen to engage in conversation or make someone new to the area feel settled. Step into that gym class without knowing a soul. You’ll be surprised how often human nature, kindness, and indeed curiosity, mean that you will soon be deep in conversation with new faces.

...But don’t forget to stay in touch with those old friends

Isolation can be a reality of life in the first few months when you move somewhere until you have created that new social base for yourself. Remember to keep in touch with those you hold dear so that any sense of isolation isn’t overwhelming - and so that you feel you aren’t closing an old chapter, but simply expanding on your story. Equally, maintaining that foundation of friendship can give you the confidence to take the opportunity to meet new, local faces.

Play to your strengths

Though you should ‘ban repeats’, as suggested above, there is no reason to cut yourself off from your past, and what makes you ‘you’. If you’re a gym bunny, get signed up to the local centre immediately and get into your groove. Love to walk the hills? Find the local ramblers club. Any hobby you have is usually a great way-in to meet new people, and ones with similar tastes - from choirs to wild swimmers to book clubs to life drawing sessions. Sign up for things you love - and let any new relationships grow organically from there.