How does the new area you’ve moved to go from “where I live” to “home?”
It isn’t really something you focus on until you experience it for yourself. As you prepare to move to this new place, you keep thinking about all the exciting things that are going to improve your life. You may call it starting fresh, or reestablishing yourself, or embarking on a new adventure. And while all of the above is true, there is an unexpected factor that sneaks in once a little time has passed and the initial hecticness of the move has settled.
Homesickness. You miss your friends and your family, your favorite restaurants, knowing the local secrets, and the comfort of your routine.
Okay, so the ultimate solution is pretty straightforward: Make this new place your new home. Seems easy enough, right? I mean, you’ve done it before and, therefore, you can do it again.
Um, yeah. Talk about easier said than done.
The ability to cultivate a community—essentially from scratch—takes time, effort, and dedication on your part. It isn’t so much as stepping out of your comfort zone as leaping out of it. Your own mindset can make or break your experience in this new place.
Without just stating the obvious “Get involved in the community,” let’s dig into the ways to get settled somewhere new.
This is by far the most difficult part, no matter how social you are. When you go between work and your residence each day, you aren’t really giving yourself the opportunity to meet new people in between. It’s not like you can just start handing out your phone number to potential friends at a coffee shop (I’ve tried that, she didn’t call me and I admit it hurt a little). You can’t really jump right into an established friend circle either (or you’ll be that weird newcomer). Making new friends is a process and it requires sincere effort on your part. When you meet someone new, follow up with them the next day. Schedule something to do in the near future. Let down your guard and put yourself out there.
Find your “spots.”
Figure out where your new favorite Chinese food restaurant is, or the best park to go jogging, or that bakery that has the freshest pastries. It’s a trial-and-error process and it’s probably going to cost a little money, but you are going to be so excited when you discover that amazing new place. Who knows, it might even be better than your last home’s spot. Also, remember to always ask locals, search Yelp, download city apps, and find local blogs that give you the inside scope.
Join smaller communities.
We aren’t in college anymore where we naturally mixed with new groups of people in classes, clubs, organizations, etc. Now we need to make the extra effort to seek out such smaller communities. Follow local organizations and programs’ social media accounts and see what new events they push out—that’s what they’re there for! Apply for a leadership program, attend work out classes, join a recreational sports team. You’ll meet people who share common interests and by consistently seeing them, you’ll begin establishing relationships naturally.
Make your own space homey.
Unpack the last of those boxes, find places to display your sentimental treasures, and hang up those photos. Let your residence become your own homey space—that’s what it’s there for, after all! It may take time purchasing the necessary furniture and items, though do your best to work with what you have. Creating your house/apartment into a home will do wonders with your overall comfort in this new area.
No, I’m not saying do the same thing every day—that would get boring very quickly and we don’t want that. However, let yourself get into a rhythm. Having favorite spots gets incorporated into this. Is there a particular area of town that you enjoy? Go to happy hour there (and invite those new people you’ve met!), or walk your dog/go jogging around there. Go to that work out class, organization meeting, or program engagement each week. Break away from the easy fallback of wake up, go to work, leave work, maybe run an errand, go home, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. Shake up that routine with more exciting efforts that get woven into the regular schedule.
Stop relying on your GPS.
You are never going to feel at home in this new place if you don’t understand the general navigation of the city. Let yourself get a little lost because that’s the only way you are truly going to learn the map. When you do use the GPS, be mindful of your surroundings and the map so you can get a feel for where you’re going. Don’t be a robot who just turns right onto this street and left onto that street—figure out the why behind the navigation and it will tremendously help.
Consciously begin calling this new place home.
I’ve been fighting this one for a while. I feel such a connection to my home state that it seems insulting to it to call anywhere else “home.” However, it is okay to connect yourself to two places. Suck it up and get the new state driver’s license and license plates (yes, I’m talking to myself with this). Input the word “home” when you’re talking about going back to your house/apartment, and reflect on the positive things about the new community when you’re catching up with family and friends back at your last home. Stick up for this new place so you feel it deserves to be your home!
It takes time, I keep reminding myself. I’ve lived here for almost three months now and in retrospect, it isn’t that long to establish myself in a new community to call home. What have been the biggest obstacles for you when moving to a new area? What efforts do you make and how do you go about them? Seriously, I’m asking—I want to call Sacramento a home away from home, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is struggling to do so after a gigantic move.