Settling into a new living environment
Just shifted into a new neighbourhood or living environment? Feeling awkward and unsettled in your new place? Don't know where to go or how to got about in your new environment? Feeling lonely for want of friends? Feeling anxious to meet new people around you?
If this is what you are experiencing after beginning a new life in a new environment, let me reassure you that this is absolutely normal. A new, unfamiliar living environment can be intimidating even to the strong-willed, as one does not know what to anticipate or how to go about doing things in his or her new setting. Some are naturally endowed with that amazing gift of adaptability, where they can quickly and flexibly blend into their new environment with little effort, while others may find it difficult and may require more time to settle in. Whichever category you may fall into, do not fret! Here are some handy tips that may help pull you out of your newfound anxieties and settle you into your new setting in no time at all.
1. Do some pre-shifting research
Before moving into your new neighbourhood or environment, do your own homework and conduct some extensive research regarding what is around your new home. With the advent of the wireless online era, researching your new area even before stepping foot there has never been easier. Even when you are miles away from your new home, a few taps on the keyboard and perhaps a few minutes or hours online is all that you need to gather loads of useful information that will help you in anticipation of your big move. Perhaps some of the things that you can consider researching for are the available facilities and public hotspots in your new vicinity and their locations, the locations of your place of work or study (if any) and how to get there, the availability and locations of places where you can enjoy your favourite sports or leisure activities, and the local public transport systems. Additionally, you may take the extra mile to study maps of your new area in order to familiarize yourself with the road names and major landmarks near your new home.
Another tip: if you are moving to a different country, it would be wise to also research a bit regarding the immigration or legal requirements of living or settling in the country, the general costs of living, the local culture and means of connectivity (i.e. mobile phones, internet connection etc.).
2. Set in place your necessities
Upon moving into your new environment, putting all your necessities in functioning order should be your top priority. "Necessities" is a broad term, and what this entails depends upon how well-furnished and readily equipped is your new home. For some, these "necessities" include getting the electric and water supplies up and working, furnishing the new home with some basic furniture or equipment, or unpacking belongings and arranging stuffs brought from the old/other home. For others, they may just involve getting a functional internet line and mobile phone, unpacking clothes, or stocking up the refrigerator with some veggies and munchies. Regardless of what your "necessities" may be, be sure to set your home systems and belongings in order, so that you will not have cold, sleepless nights without proper heating or frustrating days without internet connection.
3. Take a walk around your new neighbourhood or area
The next step is to familiarize yourself with the physical environment of your new neighbourhood or area. Go out for some fresh air, and take a stroll around your immediate vicinity and its nearby areas. Get to know the local infrastructures, public amenities and landmarks, the nearby shopping complexes and convenience stores, and the best and worst eateries within the vicinity. You can also use the results of your pre-shifting research (in Tip 1) to guide your little exploration around your neighbourhood. Nonetheless, you definitely would not want to lose your way in what seems like uncharted territory to you, so do not forget to bring along a map or a functioning GPS locator, just in case.
4. Explore public transport routes in your new town/city
Unless you already have a personal vehicle, or prefer to travel around in one (see next tip), it is imperative for you to be acquainted with the local public transport system. Not everything is within walking distance from your new home, and surely you do not want to be stranded at home till someone offers to chauffeur you around, do you? As mentioned in Tip 1, part of your research before you move in to your new area should ideally include the local public transport systems, and it is now time to put to the test the outcome of your research. Spend perhaps a day or two trying out different modes of public transport to places within the town or city which you are likely to frequent. Note the various bus, subway, railway or tram lines, their respective numbers or destinations, peak hours, operating times, stops and ticketing prices. Obtain an integrated map of the entire public transport system from information centres in the main stations, if available. Find out also if an integrated electronic pass is available for the entire system, and consider purchasing one for ease of travel to avoid the hassle of lining up for tickets in the future, especially if you know that you are going to be depending a lot on public transport.
5. Get yourself a personal vehicle
If you brought your own vehicle as you shifted in, or if you are working in a company that provides you with one, then consider your transportation woes solved! Nevertheless, if that is not the case for you, and you find that taking public transport is simply not your forte, then perhaps a personal vehicle is what you need to consider as soon as possible. Purchasing a new vehicle requires taking into account many factors, and as the old adage goes, "money makes the world go round," or in this case it makes you go around your new world more easily. Should finances be a constraint, however, you can consider looking up the local classifieds for a used vehicle, or save up for a new purchase later in the future while you bear with public transport in the meantime.
6. Familiarize yourself with the cultures and norms in your new area
It would be a good idea to also get yourself acquainted with the cultures and norms in your new neighbourhood so as to minimize any awkwardness or ignorance in future social dealings. There are various ways you can do this, and one of the simplest methods is to just sit down in a nearby coffee shop or restaurant and turn on your detective instincts for a few minutes or hours. Over a nice cup of coffee or a sumptuous meal, try to observe the behaviours, actions and mannerisms of those around you. Be a bit of a busybody, and try eavesdropping on the conversations of those sitting around you. Get to know how and what they talk about, and from there you can build a rough impression of how daily life works in your new vicinity.
7. Read a local publication
Grab hold of a local newsletter, newspaper or publication of any sort that details news and happenings in your local vicinity or region. These can commonly be found in places such as petrol kiosks, bookstores, train/bus stations and even restaurants or coffee shops, either for free or with a small charge. Spare a bit of time reading these materials, as they can be valuable sources of information for local news, events and culture. This is important especially if you have moved into a foreign country, where such materials become handy in orientating you to what is current and trending in your new environment.
8. Make friends with your immediate neighbours
When wise men of old went around preaching that "no man is an island," they really meant it. Regardless of where you are or how independent you may be, always remember that friendships are an utmost necessity, and sometimes it may even be friendships that will rescue you in times of need. As such, it is always good to get acquainted with others in your new neighbourhood, starting from those who are living around you. Make it a point to knock on your neighbour's door and introduce yourself as the new kid on the block. It's common courtesy, and you wouldn't want to antagonize your new neighbours, do you?
9. Look up local meetups or social gatherings
After befriending your neighbours, it is perhaps time to look at the bigger community with a view of broadening your social circles in your new place. Look up relatives, friends or acquaintances who may be living near you, or if you have moved in for job-related or study-related reasons, diligently seek new friends in your place of work or study. Alternatively, with the growth of many social websites in this era of wireless broadband, finding peers in your new town or city with similar interests has never been so easy. Look up websites such as Meetup.com and Couchsurfing, or simply do a quick web search, and chances are you will be able to come across a wide range of meetups around you, ranging from cult-like enclaves of strictly passionate freaks of a particular hobby or interest to loose social gatherings of locals and expatriates who simply enjoy the warm company of each other and newcomers. Single out your preferred meetups or social gatherings, then go out there and be a sociable new kid on the block!
10. Join a local religious community
Lastly, if you subscribe to any particular faith or belief system, perhaps this is one of the best ways to meet new people and forge new friendships with the locals. Although not a general rule, and exceptions do exist, people in most places of worship tend to be more amiable especially towards newcomers, and they may well be the most helpful in aiding your adjustment into your new locality too. As part of your pre-shifting research (Tip 1), you can include a brief search for a warm and welcoming local church, mosque, temple or religious gathering, then consider joining one that most closely subscribes to both your spiritual and social expectations. Once you have settled down in your new religious community as well, you can even play an active role in it, not to mention be one of the friendly faces yourself to welcome future newcomers and help them settle into their new environments.
It is very common nowadays for many of us to move into a new place or environment due to commitments related to work or study, or simply to seek a change in atmosphere or a slower pace of life in conjunction with one's retirement. Whatever the reasons may be, shifting into a new place should not be a fearsome task, but a gradual positive adjustment into a new phase of life.