Connect To Your Neighborhood: Four Ways To Become A Local

Moving is more than just a giant to-do list, it’s a chance to become a part of a new neighborhood. Whether it is a bustling metropolis or quaint downtown, when the boxes are unloaded (or maybe before) it is time for you to become a local. Feeling connected is going to take more than just a new mailing address, it takes some effort on your part. So what can you do to connect, quickly?

Be a regular, regularly We can’t all be Chandler or Phoebe and spend lengthy hours on the plush couches of Central Perk, but you can become a regular, quickly. In your first few months of moving, it’s a balance between exploring every place in your neighborhood and becoming so familiar with the barista they recognize you (and have your latte waiting). Pick one coffee shop, one lunch hub, and one happy hour initially. The key is in the “regular” part of the being a regular -- frequent the spot 2-3 times of the week and aim on being there at the same times. Start at off hours, so you can introduce yourself as new to the neighborhood. Ask for recommendations and remember to tip well. When you frequent the same places, you might not have the breadth of experience but the irreplaceable feeling of having your name attached to a “hello” when you’re grabbing a coffee is priceless.

Ditch your GPS app Nothing makes you feel ownership over a place like the simple ability to give directions -- whether it’s pointing out the next NYC subway stop or instructing how to navigate the Dallas freeways. And the only way to learn to navigate your neighborhood is to ditch the GPS on occasion. So how can you learn the lay of the land? Start with simple outings like the grocery store or the gym. Look up directions ahead of time, get the bigger picture of how streets or bus stops connect, then tuck away your phone for the actual trip. If you get lost, let yourself try to figure it out for ten minutes before you power up your phone’s GPS. Pretty soon you’ll be an expert navigator, and you’ll know your neighborhood’s street names, landmarks, and characteristics.

Be a tourist for the weekend Similar to giving directions, making recommendations for visitors or acquaintances lets you know that you are a part of the place you live. So give up all pretenses about doing “touristy things” and dive into what your city has to offer for a weekend. Even if you aren’t going the Space Needle in Seattle every weekend or the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on the regular, doesn’t mean you shouldn't be able to speak with authority about the highlights of your city. If your new hub has a CityPass available, this is a cost-effective way of seeing the best attractions. If your new stomping grounds are less sprawling, find a local museum or art gallery. Once you’ve checked off all of the tourist landmarks, you’ll be more appreciative of calling your new city not just a destination, but home.

Live in parks Greenspace is where neighborhoods happen, especially in the sweet summer months. One of the best ways to know your neighborhood is to find the parks, bike trails, and green spaces where people gather. Use your local parks like they are your own backyard -- pack a lunch and grab a park bench or picnic table over lunch, bring a basketball or book to the nearest park in the evening, and wake up with a morning run along the cities’ running trails. Spending time in parks lets you overlap with others in your area who aren’t just in town and gives you a practical way to get out.

Making a place a home is, of course, more than just having a house or apartment to land in at the end of the night. Let MyUtilities take care of connecting you to all of your utilities so you have more time to get out and explore your new landscape. Connecting to your neighborhood offers a limitless sense of belonging.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash