How to Get to Know Your New City
Six months after college graduation, after completing an internship in Minneapolis, I had no job and no plan—so naturally I decided to pick up and move to a new city. How could that possibly go wrong, right? I think you can see where this is going.
Relocating can be a challenge, particularly when you don’t have an apartment waiting for you. (I spent four months sleeping on my best friend’s couch in her studio apartment, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty).
However, relocation doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience! With the right know-how, and a few savvy tips from your friends at Rent.com, you’ll not only have somewhere to live after you relocate, but you’ll feel like a local in your new city in no time. Here’s what to do:
Visit the New City Before You Move
Obviously, I did not follow my own advice on this one. But if I could do it all over again, I would visit Chicago before I moved there. This accomplishes two main things: One, It makes it so much easier to find an apartment, and two, you can get a feel for the different neighborhoods and find the one that’s right for you.
Ask Plenty of Questions
On your initial visit, don’t be afraid to ask your future landlord (and neighbors) tons of questions. After all, who better to tell you about the neighborhood than the people who actually live there? When you grab lunch at a local restaurant, chat up your server and ask what they like to do on the weekends. That way, you can get a feel for your new city before even relocating.
Do Some Serious Online Research
The Internet is your friend when it comes to getting to know a new city. Rent.com’s blog has some great posts about the best neighborhoods to live in, and you can use review sites like Yelp to get the low-down on locals’ favorite places to eat, drink and be merry. Once you’ve relocated and you’re trying to navigate your new hometown, Google Maps will be your best friend—trust me.
Hit Up Local Hot Spots
As the saying goes, there’s a Starbucks on every corner, which means that’s not where you should be getting your morning coffee if you want to get to know your new neighborhood. Skip the chains and hit up local hot spots like small businesses and farmers markets to get a feel for your new city’s unique vibe.
Set Aside Time to Explore
Once your relocation is complete, spend the first few weekends in your new city exploring. By wandering around and getting lost in your new surroundings, you may come across hidden gems you never would have discovered otherwise. I found my favorite Thai place in Chicago (a little hole-in-the-wall) by simply walking around my neighborhood one day.
Try Out Different Types of Transportation
Each mode of transportation allows you to see your new city differently. If you normally drive to work, try using public transit on the weekends. If you’re all too familiar with the bus system already, hop on a bike to meet friends for brunch. This will not only help you get your bearings, but expose you to areas of the city you may never have encountered otherwise.
Become Involved in Your Community
Becoming involved in your community is a great way to meet new people and get to know your city. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, join a neighborhood kickball team or take a class at a nearby art studio. Meetup is a great website that helps you connect with other people in your city who have similar interests. After all, there has to be someone else out there who loves Settlers of Catan as much as you do!
Read Local Media
The Wall Street Journal is not going to tell you what you need to know about your new city. Instead, subscribe to local newspapers (or pick them up on the corner) to find out more about recent news events and what’s going on in this bustling metropolis you now call home. Local bloggers can also be a great resource—you can trust them to give their honest opinion about that new restaurant around the corner.
Get Your Hair Cut
This may seem a little strange, but getting your hair cut can be a great way to get to know a new city after relocating. Let me explain: Hair stylists spend their entire day talking to people, and are generally pretty “in the know” when it comes to what’s happening around town.
You may learn more in that hour than you would in an entire day of searching the Web. Plus, finding a great hairstylist is one of the first things you should do when you relocate anyway!
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[Image Source: Stacie]