Three hours. That’s how long it took you to do the most routine errand run ever: get cash from the ATM, go to the grocery store, and stop for a coffee on the way back. At your old home, that would’ve taken you an hour, tops. Today, you’ve lost three. You love your new house, but your new town is a complete mystery. You don’t know where anything is, and you haven’t found your favorites yet, so everything takes a lot longer than it should.
Whether you have moved across town or across the country, your surroundings are different. Establishing routines will get you out the door to explore your new home base, and you’ll probably make some friends along the way. As you immerse yourself in the community, you’ll learn about things to do, places to go, and how to live like a local.
Take a Day to Explore and Test Out Places
In a normal week, there are a lot of errands to run. If you don’t know where everything is or where your favorite stores are, it’s going to take hours to complete the basics. Make a list of everything you do or places you go on a recurring basis, such as:
- Gym or outdoor running area
- Grocery store
- Post office
- Coffee shop
- Hair stylist/barber
Spend an entire day (or weekend) finding these places, signing up for trials or memberships, and simply exploring. Take a walk on a path you may want to jog in the morning, wander around your local grocery stores to find the one with the items you like, set your GPS to locate the closest post office and bank, and so on. If you have a few options — like several salons or wine shops — go online to read reviews to narrow your choices.
Create a New Workout Routine
Instead of working out at home five days a week, look at fitness opportunities in your neighborhood. Is there an adult’s softball team you can join, yoga classes in your neighborhood studio, or a nearby gym with group workouts? If you’ve always wanted to start hiking or running, find a local group that meets every week. On top of living a healthy life, the goal here is to meet new people who are interested in the same things you are. Also, by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone — like through a martial arts lesson or a first attempt on an indoor climbing wall — you’ll have more to talk about when you do meet people.
Charge your phone, get your GPS ready, and head out to get lost. If you moved to the city from a rural or suburban area, you can do this on foot or get on the subway to see where it stops. If you have to drive, just set out and start driving. Give yourself a time limit, like 15 minutes, to see how far you’ve gone and what you’ve found, then pick another route and explore that one. Getting lost can lead you to shops and spots you may have never found otherwise, and it’s also a good lesson in how to get around your new neighborhood. When you’re ready to head home, just pull up your map on your smartphone and find your way back.
Write a Checklist
You’ve been out and about in your new town, and you’ve taken notice of other things you want to explore. Keep a running checklist of all the things you want to do, see and experience. Here’s a sample:
- Go to trivia night at the brew pub up the road.
- Book an introductory class at the CrossFit gym.
- Browse that vintage shop on Main Street this Sunday.
- Sign up for a card at the library and get the schedule of speakers.
- Find the quickest walking route to my new favorite coffee shop.
These to-dos have multiple purposes: They get you exploring your neighborhood and meeting new people, and they’ll also help you establish your daily routine (grabbing coffee in the morning, getting a workout in, returning library books). Refresh your list each month and challenge yourself to add 5-10 more items.
Set a Sleep Schedule
Your daily routines can’t survive if you’re not awake in time and well rested. A sleep routine and falling into REM sleep are essential to a healthy lifestyle, but getting used to sleeping in a new place can be difficult. If the sleep routine you had at your old place worked for you, try to stick to that routine as closely as possible.
To get a good night’s sleep, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. To wind down at night, create a routine that relaxes you, like taking a warm bath, drinking a cup of tea, and reading. Keep your room as dark as you can; even the smallest amount of light, like the glow from your alarm clock, can make it difficult to fall asleep. If your new windows let in more light and different sounds than what you’re used to, this is especially important. Getting into a good sleeping pattern early will help to mitigate all those restless nights brought on by being somewhere new.
Ready to immerse yourself in your new hometown? Clear a day to head out and see what it has to offer. Keep a running checklist of the things you want to do. Pay attention to fliers and conversations as you hang out in cafes, restaurants, and shops. Challenge yourself to become a true local. Before you know it, you’ll be the one who knows everything that’s going on.
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