5 Tips For Getting To Know Your New Town

On the eve of my third major relocation, my father quoted Yogi Berra: “You see a fork in the road, you take it.” A strange and somewhat cryptic saying for sure, but with my life packed into boxes and worry on my mind, it was a reminder that moving is an opportunity for adventure, a chance to shake things up. Three years later, those words ran through my head as I once again boxed everything up, and drove five hours to Philadelphia, my new home.

Moving to a new city or town is exciting, but it can also be a stressful and somewhat scary experience if you’ve never done it before (or even if you consider yourself an old pro). Whether this is your first move or your fourth, it’s not easy packing up everything you own and pointing your compass in the direction of the unknown, especially if you’re headed to unfamiliar territory. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from constantly moving, it’s that the experience is what you make of it, getting to know your new home can be one of the best parts of the adventure, as long as you have a game plan.

5 Tips for Getting to Know Your New Town

Reach Out: Before my last move three years ago, it was such an off-my-radar location that I didn’t expect to have any connections whatsoever in the city, but it turned out that a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend lived there and was willing to connect with me. As soon as you know you’re going to be moving, reach out to family and friends to see if they can put you in touch with anyone they may know who lives in your new destination. Put it out there on social media. Even if you think it’s a shot in the dark, you might be surprised; the most remote connection can still be a life line. Get in touch early and ask about neighborhoods to check out, where to hang out, and favorite haunts in and around your new town.

5 Tips for Getting to Know Your New Town

Read Up: Check out the travel section of your local library or bookstore to find titles that specialize in the area you’re moving to, and read up. If you like to hike, be sure to get your hands on some local trail maps, or if museums and cultural spots are more your thing, look up travel guides that feature those destinations. While you’re at it, scope out hashtags and tagged places through Instagram, or connect with a few favorite local users to get an insider’s take on where you’re headed. From there you’ll be able to make a light itinerary for your first few days, and maybe even set up a couple of coffee dates with people you’ve connected with.

5 Tips for Getting to Know Your New Town

Get Out: Once you’re all moved in, it’s time to make use of all the info you’ve gathered and get out and get exploring. Walk or ride your bike around your neighborhood, check out local music venues, use the Roadside America app to find weird spots you wouldn’t expect, pay attention to the community board in your local coffee shop. Spending time out and about will keep you busy and present plenty of opportunities to connect with people and meet locals. One of my favorite days in Philadelphia so far was spent just walking through the city with no destination in mind, I discovered an amazing farmer’s market that way, where I was able to pick up a bunch of locally crafted items.

5 Tips for Getting to Know Your New Town

Get Lost: It’s tempting to use your GPS for everything from finding the closest grocery store, to finding your way home, but every once and awhile, turn it off and just let yourself go. The fastest way from point A to point B isn’t always the most interesting. Let yourself wander and I can almost guarantee you’ll discover something new. Walk down a side street, pop into a cute cafe, turn the wheel left instead of right. Allow yourself an afternoon every once and awhile to get lost, and soon you’ll know your new town like the back of your hand (and you’ll look like a pro when tourists ask for directions).

5 Tips for Getting to Know Your New Town

Take Time: It’s tempting to hit the ground running and go-go-go as soon as you move in. But you live here now (awesome!) and will have plenty of time to do everything on your most-likely growing list of things to do, so set aside some time to focus on yourself and slow down, whether it’s through yoga, daily meditation, or keeping a journal. Remember to take a moment every now and then to stop and appreciate the incredible adventure you’re on, moving is tough but you did it!

Do you have tips for getting to know your new home?

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9 years ago

A lovely piece for your first feature, Julie!

9 years ago

This is a great post! I just moved to Pittsburgh from NYC a few months ago and I’m always looking for new ways to meet people and discover the city. These are some good tips! :)

9 years ago

This is lovely, even if youre not exactly moving! Im headed out today towards a new city for a while, and I have never heard of the roadside america app, I love it! The instagram tagging is also wonderful, Hopefully I can use both for the trip


9 years ago

Finding an exercise group has always helped me. When I moved here, first thing I did was find a new ballet studio. These are really, really good tips. Getting lost is my favorite tip though. That’s how I found Whole Foods, my favorite coffee shops, thrift stores, and more!


9 years ago

@Jamie ! I am from Pittsburgh :) I live in Texas now but I hope you are enjoying the perfect summer there. Definitely hit up the Stript District and the Seafood Market. Make sure you ride the incline and go to the Andy Warhol Museum. Keep trying all the local pizza places until you find your favorite one! Go to a Pens game and drink a yuengling. On the south side/ brookline area is where all my girlfriends lived while in college. Look up a bar called Mario’s and check it out. Also one last thing…. breakfast at PAMELAS. Let me know how your adventure goes <3




9 years ago

Thanks so much for posting this! I’m about to make an international move (to England) in two weeks, and the stress of feeling “at home” wherever I’m going is currently my biggest concern! I’m hoping to just treat the whole thing more as an adventure than a traumatic experience, so that I can jump in face first and have a honeymoon phase with my new home.

<3 dani

9 years ago

Lovely. You know, this also seems super useful for people who just enjoy wandering and adventuring. Beautiful post.

9 years ago

I needed this! I just moved to Colorado from Georgia so I’m kind of out of my element here. Thanks for the tips! Some of it was kind of obvious, but I guess I just needed the motivation. Thanks, Julie!

9 years ago

Amazing tips! I used to move to different countries every 3 months because of my job. Lived 8 months in Bangkok and now I’ in the Philippines. This is all so true!

Gabi Barbará

9 years ago
9 years ago

Nice tips!! PlusWho is also a great way to help women make new friends in their local area, whether you’ve lived there forever or just relocated. Check it out at http://www.pluswho.com

9 years ago

I moved to a new place nine-months ago and had my beautiful bicycle stolen, which turned out to be a blessing. Walking around town has offered an intimacy that even biking doesn’t touch, and surely driving doesn’t even come close. The smells, the changes in the natural world, befriending all the dogs, meeting neighbors outside gardening and hanging out, discovering art. And, allowing myself to freely wander, I have come across such magic and beauty. Walking does take longer than other forms of transportation, but I certainly feel I have been rewarded for being patient and taking time to get to know this new place. :)

9 years ago

These tips are perfect and JUST what I needed to hear. I’m moving to San Francisco next month – it’s always been a dream of mine and I’m so excited… but I’m also starting to get nervous! I’ll keep these things in mind while I begin to explore my new town!

xoxo Sara

9 years ago

We are in the process of relocating from Alexandria, VA to Colorado. Thank you for the tips. I’ve moved quite a bit and always found that I come across the best things when I get lost and have no direction. Top priority: finding the best coffee shop and vegetarian restaurant.

9 years ago

@FPJulie great post!! Just what I needed since I moved to SF from TEXAS 5 months ago!
These are all great tips! Also meetup is a good way to just mingle with locals that you have something in common with, and in big cities there is a meetup group for just about anything. I also like to look up fun, artistic people on instagram that like to post about the city. You can leave a comment and they’re usually great at giving you tips or even just checking out their IG feed will give you great ideas of places to check out!! Take advantage of social media–but always exercise caution when meeting new people!! :-)

@Sara congrats on the move!! I also just moved to SF because it was a place I dreamed of–it has not dissapointed!! SF is an amazing city, and more photogenic than you can imagine. I love the Bay Area

9 years ago

Great advice! I wish I had read this before moving when I was in college. It would have helped me adjust to my new town so much quicker!

@Jamie Welcome to Pittsburgh! I second Summer’s recommendation about the Strip District; you can find anything there and the best restaurants are in that area! Also check out the night life in Shadyside; there are a ton of great bars in that area.

9 years ago

great and useful advice, thank you. I’m also about to move to a new town and I’m super excited, but also very scared. I am not much of a socialite, so searching for opportunities to connect with locals is key for me!

9 years ago

Great tips! Especially looking up travel guides and maps!


8 years ago

The tips here are exactly what I needed. I recently moved to a small town in Germany and your post will help me a lot speeding things up and finding out what I need faster. Thanks!

7 years ago

I moved two months ago. I’m scared of everything. I’m afraid to drive. I can’t work. Worst mistake of my life.