…whether you’re moving across town or across the country
People often assume that it’s the big, long distance moves that are the most difficult: Moving to another province, or even another country, to take a new job or because you’ve been relocated for work seems like it will require more adjustment than moving to a new neighbourhood within the same city.
But for those of us who have lived in Toronto can tell you, when you live in a big city, sometimes moving across town can seem just as tough. Famously called “a city of neighbourhoods”, with more than 140 distinct ‘hoods, it can be just as hard to find your feet even though you’ve only moved a couple of kilometers down the road.
A sense of belonging is important, no matter where you live
Here are our 6 tips for making yourself really feel like you’re part of your new neighbourhood, no matter how far you’ve moved.
1 Walk everywhere. Going for regular, long walks in your new neighbourhood is the quickest way to make you feel at home. Walking allows you to experience the neighbourhood in an up-close-and-personal way that just isn’t possible if you’re driving. You can stop into the local stores, get a feel for which restaurants are loved by the locals, and over time you’ll start to exchange greetings with familiar faces on your route.
2 Shop and eat local. Every neighbourhood has a great corner store, a produce market, a weird little ‘everything’ store and a mom-and-pop restaurant (yes, even suburban neighbourhoods have one or two – you just have to look). Make a point of shopping and eating in these places, and soon you’ll feel like a ‘regular’ who’s welcomed by familiar faces.
3 Invite people to your new place. It’s funny: A new home will almost immediately feel more ‘homey’ when it’s filled with friends and family. Host a dinner, have a cocktail party, ask a couple of friends over to watch a movie – creating memories in your new place will transform the way you feel about it.
4 Don’t hesitate to leverage your dog or your children. If you’ve got a dog, take it to the local dog park (and every neighbourhood has one, even if it’s unofficial). Dog park regulars tend to be friendly and happy to make small talk with other dog owners. If you’ve got little kids, find the local park or play area – once you’ve seen the same parents a couple of times, it’s seem natural to chat a bit. And if you’ve got kids who are starting school in your new neighbourhood, join the PTA or volunteer for something at the school. It’s amazing how ‘at home’ you’ll feel once you’re on a “Hi, how are you?” basis with some familiar faces in your neighbourhood.
5 Join the online community. Many neighbourhoods in Toronto and elsewhere have private Facebook groups or websites created and used only by residents to discuss local events, improvements, city government, garage sales – all the little things that make a neighbourhood a community.
6 Get out of your comfort zone (at least a little bit). In Toronto, most neighbourhoods have lots of small, ethnically-diverse restaurants, serving everything from Ethiopian to Vietnamese to Hungarian to Mexican cuisine. Try some of them, even if you’re not sure whether you’ll like the food. Chances are you’ll find something on the menu that appeals, but in the meantime you’re expanding your horizons and creating new memories in your new home – and that’s the way to make it really feel like home.