These tips will help you find your place within your community — and make it feel even more like home.
After the hard work of finding and moving into the perfect home, you’re finally ready for the best part: exploring your new neighborhood and city! Here’s what you should do in your first week, month, and year in a new place to help make it your home sweet home.
1. Get your bills in order.
You probably had the essentials switched over to your name so you wouldn’t be without them on move-in day. But you’ll need to make appointments for other services, like cable or home security, right after you move in. Other essentials may also have slipped off your radar, like neighborhood trash pickup dates, suggests Michael Kelczewski, a real estate agent with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Wilmington, DE.
2. Find your local resources.
“No matter how organized you are, there will be items, like extension cords and towel rods, that you will need to pick up quickly to make sure that you feel settled,” says Joan Kagan, sales manager at TripleMint Real Estate in New York, NY. Your first week is the best time to seek out these essentials and more. You’ll no doubt become well-acquainted with the nearby hardware store, but you’ll also want to stock that new fridge at the local grocery store, make friends with the barista at the neighborhood coffee shop, and hit the closest post office to have your mail forwarded.
3. Meet the neighbors.
“This will give you some comfort in knowing who is around you,” says Pat Eberle of RASO Realty in Cape Coral, FL. “Neighbors are a great resource for [discovering] where all the local hot spots are, where to go for necessary services, and more. If you have children, this will also help them meet the neighborhood kids their age and start making friends.”
4. Find your community online.
Nextdoor and neighborhood or community groups on Facebook are an easy way to start following what’s happening in your new neighborhood. A subscription to the local city magazine can’t hurt either. “This way, you can stay on top of community events, safety issues, and meet more neighbors!” says Lisa Sinn, a real estate agent with Keller Williams in San Antonio, TX. Want to untether from the laptop? Head to your local library or coffee shop and scope out the bulletin boards for upcoming events or local businesses to try.
5. Study the rules.
Before you jump into those home improvement projects, make sure they’re not against the rules of your homeowners’ association (HOA) or local zoning laws. If you live in a historic district, you may even have to get your paint colors approved! And be careful not to overlook those easy-to-forget loose ends. “During your home-buying process, there are lots of deadlines and time frames to be aware of,” explains Eberle. “After closing, you will also need to check on items like your property taxes, can you request a homestead exemption, etc.”
1. Dine like a local.
“Try different restaurants, supermarkets, coffee shops, and bars in the neighborhood,” says Kagan. “One of the great things about living in a city like New York is the great variety of resources within walking distance. You can choose your favorites and start to build a community.”
2. Extend invites.
The sooner you make friends in a new city, the sooner it will start to feel like home. “When people find out that you are moving to New York, they will tell you about their college roommate’s niece, their brother-in-law’s cousin, their former baby sitter, all of whom have moved to New York,” says Kagan. Whether you live in the city or in a more suburban area, don’t roll your eyes at these connections. “Make the effort to get together with all of them — they will invite you to meet others and share their tips.”
3. Follow your interests.
“Local charities are always looking for volunteers and church groups are always looking for new members,” says Eberle. “City recreation facilities often offer classes for kids and adults. This can also be a great way to meet other locals that have similar interests.”
4. Pitch in.
“Offering to assist a neighbor with a project can also be a great way to break into the neighborhood,” suggests Eberle. “If you are in a cold area with snow, help with snow removal. If you are where the weather is nice, help with lawn mowing, trimming, raking leaves, or other projects. The favor will likely be returned in the future!”
5. Meet your HOA president.
This person can be a great ally when it comes to neighbors breaking the rules (ahem, not mowing their lawns, partying too loudly, etc.). Get to know them well, advises Sinn, so you can get your voice heard.
1. Take advantage of your city.
You chose your neighborhood for its character, proximity to work, or its other perks. Now’s the time to explore other neighborhoods nearby for hidden gems. “Go to the theater! Visit museums and concerts. Take advantage of your town’s amazing parks!” says Kagan. “Explore a different neighborhood every month.” Knowing your city better will help you feel more connected and give you even more favorite places to come back to again and again.
2. Start a group.
Make an effort to stay connected with your neighbors, even if you don’t click right away. “In the first year in a neighborhood, you will find that some of your neighbors and you will click and they will become friends,” says Eberle. They’re a built-in source of information and support nearby. To stay in touch, launch a book club, dinner club, or other type of regular get-together on a schedule that works for everyone. It’s a low-pressure way to forge a deeper connection with those around you.
3. Host for a holiday.
Pick a holiday and plan an event in your home. Invite the neighbors or friends from unconnected groups. Think of it as your own mixer. Who knows? Maybe you’ll inspire some more friends to move to your neighborhood — and make next year’s parties even better.
4. Attend HOA meetings.
“Attend as many as possible so you’re aware of exactly what’s happening in your community regularly,” says Sinn. If you have time, you might consider joining in a more official capacity, which lets you contribute to future plans and provides insights into neighborhood changes.
5. Make goals for next year.
Reflect on your first year in your new neighborhood and make goals for the next one. Would you like to get more involved, perhaps in a leadership role with your HOA? Have you noticed congestion or traffic issues that you could work with your neighbors to resolve? Maybe you’d like to support a local nonprofit or school by organizing a 5K race through your neighborhood. Or perhaps there’s a beautification effort you could launch. Whatever you choose, you’ll be on a path to deepen your involvement in your community.