Tips for Settling into a New City

Our recent move to Vancouver was number six for us, so in some ways I feel like settling into a new city is a bit old hat. In other ways, it’s still hard to adjust to a new place, especially when moving from a “small” city to a “big” city.

Tips from veteran movers on settling into a new city, such as getting involved with your local church, finding classes, and making friends before your move.

I reached out on social media to ask for advice and here’s what I heard:

Don’t push yourself too hard. Take your time and enjoy the process in little bits. You’ll eventually get it all done.@JBenlienReeves

My mother-in-law passed on some advice from a friend of hers: “Don’t get lost or overwhelmed in the BIG of the city roadways, buildings, bridges, malls, etc.  Pay attention to your desired community.  Focus on the LITTLE and CLOSENESS initially—your street, your church, your school, your grocery store.  Get to KNOW your community then spread your wings to the district closest to your and onward. One street will become familiar and the norm.  One neighborhood will become familiar and the norm.  And onward.”

“Immediately find activities and groups to to sign up for! Before you even unpack!! It’s so important to just keep the momentum going! Take a walk around town your first day, meet people, ask questions, get a tea or coffee! Join related FB groups before you even arrive and ask questions, connect with the community.” ~ Amber Grace

One thing I’ve appreciated about this move is that many of our friends from Victoria have introduced us to friends of theirs who live here. That’s made it easy to slide into local homeschooling groups, find classes for the girls, get referrals for violin teachers, etc. The first week we were here, I had about six emails in my inbox from local moms, welcoming me to the area and telling me to call if I needed anything.

Back in December, I signed the girls up for gymnastics classes here and searched for swim lessons. I knew that when we arrived, I’d be busy unpacking and would simply stay at home unless we had a reason to go out. Getting the girls into lessons has been a way to meet other moms, as we’re all sitting by the sidelines watching our kids at their lessons.

My friend Jessie, a military wife, says:

  • Have a routine and keep to it… during and after the move. As much as you can anyways. Mornings, bedtime, Mass. The continuity can help ease the transition.
  • Practice getting around. Our car GPS has been such a great tool to help us learn how to get to and from in a new city. I always enjoy doing driving tours with the kids to learn our new surroundings. In the beginning we stick to the essential outings like the grocery store, doctor’s office, schools then as we become more comfortable we broaden our horizons. Walking in parts of the city can be fun too.
  • Seek out kids activities or groups to help them meet other kids their age and other moms.
  • As a military family we’re fortunate to have a support network called the Military Family Resources Centre (MFRC). Every posting city has one and it works like a local community centre with child care services, workshops & support groups for adults. They even have 24 support phone lines that you can call about anything especially if your spouse is deployed and you’re new to the city and don’t know anyone yet.
  • Unpack when you can. Once the essentials are taken care of then don’t stress about the rest. Unpacking takes time. Plan to do a little every day and think of it as a chance to reorganize and sort your things. It can be one last chance to review your stuff and decide if you want to keep or donate.

Selina, also a military wife, adds, “Church is huge. Talk to the priest, see what family ministries are available in the area. Also I look up any homeschooling groups in the area, both Catholic and general, and get my name in there as well. Being involved as a co-operater with Opus Dei makes a big difference as they are always able to connect you to people in the area. It really is a small Catholic world out there. Everyone seems to know someone. And of course through my husband’s work.” She says it also helps to be very extroverted (a skill I don’t possess!).

If you don’t have kids, volunteer or get involved in a local class yourself. When my father-in-law was transferred to a new city for work, my mother-in-law joined several local groups, including one called “Walk and Talk” where the ladies just walked together and chatted. Check out the local recreation centres or Welcome Wagon to find out more.

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  1. Bonnie January 24, 2015
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