Gwen Pangle's Blog
It’s easy to feel alienated when you move to a new city or town in today’s world. Traditionally, being friendly with neighbors was much more valued in decades past than it is now. And, with the help of things like Facebook and Skype, it’s easier to stay in touch with your old friends from your previous town than it is to make new ones in your new town.
There is, however, much to be said about becoming involved in your local community. You’ll meet new people, discover new places to explore, and can make new friends in the process.
So, how can you go about involving yourself in your new town? Read on for our advice.
Say “hi” to the neighbors
Meeting the neighbors can be beneficial in a number of ways. They’ll be able to give you the lowdown on your neighborhood, including any issues you might want to be made aware of.
They’ll also be able to tell you if they notice anything strange or concerning around your house when you’re at work. And, if you go away on vacation, a good neighbor might volunteer to take in your mail for you or water your plants.
Find local events
There are a number of ways to find out what’s happening in your new town and get involved with them. Some places we recommend that you check frequently are:
Local newspapers and magazines
Library and town hall bulletin boards
Facebook groups for your town
Craigslist community boards
You could also check out some local businesses, including cafes and restaurants, to introduce yourself to some of the people who likely live and work in your town.
Learn a new skill
One of the best ways to become involved in your new community is to find out what classes are offered nearby and to join one that you’re interested in. If fitness and wellness are one of your priorities you could consider joining a yoga or fitness class.
If you’re more into crafting, see what classes are available at the local library. And, while you’re there, ask the librarians for recommendations for local places to visit, whether it be museums or specialty stores.
Volunteer your time or skills
If you’d like to give back to your community a great way to do so is to volunteer for a local cause. Many cities and towns have neighborhood or park cleanups. Others have food pantries and assistance for the elderly.
If you have a skill that you think could be useful, such as carpentry or graphic design, find out if any local groups could use your skill.
Go to town meetings
If you want to quickly learn some of the ongoing issues and conversations in your town the weekly or monthly town meetings are a great way to familiarize yourself. Most towns and cities post their meeting schedule online and even offer recordings of past meetings if you want to get a feel for what the meetings are like before attending.
Other places that meetings are held that could be of interest are the local library, churches or spiritual centers, and parks or the town common.
A new home, a new lifestyleIf you're moving across the country you probably don't know where to begin when it comes to preparing yourself. A good place to start is with the basics of daily life. Ask yourself these questions before you start packing:
- Do I have the right clothes? You don't need a whole new wardrobe before you move, but you don't want to brave a Northeast winter with just a sweatshirt either.
- What can I get rid of? Think about all of the items you have and how much you use them. If you haven't used something in a year there's a good chance it's not worth hauling across the country.
- How much space will I have? If you're moving into a house bigger than the one you have now you might not need to part with many bulky items. If not, consider having a yard sale before you move.
- Do I know enough about where I'm moving? When moving to a new place, you'll want to know where the closest hospitals, gas stations, and grocery stores are. Explore Google Maps and websites for the area you're moving to to get to know the place beforehand. Write down important addresses and telephone numbers.
Create a timelineWith all of the changes that are about to happen in your life, odds are you'll get overwhelmed with many of the details of moving. Create a moving timeline, whether it's in an app on your smartphone or on a piece of paper. On this timeline, write in dates you'll need to accomplish certain items by. Here are some sample items for your timeline:
- Pick a move-in/move-out date by today
- Choose a moving company by today
- Sell or donate unwanted items by today
- Sign paperwork and exchange keys today
- Donate clothes by today
- Going away party by today
- Pack up office by today
- Pack up living room by today
Packing your belongingsWhen packing for a long distance move there is more pressure to do it right and not forget anything. Follow these packing tips to ensure a safe travel:
- Take inventory. Use an app that helps you categorize your belongings. Check off important items as they're packed and cross them off as they're unpacked at your new home.
- Pack one room at a time. This will help you keep everything together and ensure you don't forget anything. It will make unpacking much easier.
- Don't forget to label all your boxes. Keep that Sharpie in your back pocket at all times.
- Communicate. Make sure everyone who is moving with you and helping you move are all on the same page when it comes to packing so that no details are overlooked.
- Use extra padding. A longer drive means more opportunities for something to get broken along the way. Pack boxes full and put fragile items on the bottom of the truck.
Just because many Americans live in their house less than six years, doesn't mean that you can't come to love a house until it hurts emotionally to even think about moving. In fact, you'd be among more than about a third of America's homeowners if you stayed in your house for 10 or more years.
Houses are a lot more than brick and mortar
During those 10 or more years, you'd build memories. You're sure to do this even if you don't have children. There's the decorating, general maintenance and landscaping. There's also holiday gatherings, fine dining and hours resting on the sofa or in bed at night.
These are just a few of the experiences that turn a house into a vital part of your personal history. Live in a house long enough, raising children and caring for grandchildren when they visit on weekends, holidays and during summer, and you might not recall some of the warmest experiences in your life without seeing yourself in your house.
Yet, warm memories are not going to stop your house from aging. Warm memories won't stop your house's pipes from turning fragile, the roof from leaking or the floor from curling or sagging. If you're up in your years, your adult children or friends could stop by and help with repairs.
Take the sting out of leaving an old house
After awhile, even this may not suffice. You may have to face the fact that it's time to move. Give yourself time to adjust to looking for another house, perhaps a smaller, more modern home. Or perhaps you've decided to move into an apartment,the type of place you won't have to repair and maintain.
To adjust to moving out of a house with history, be sure to pack your pictures. Bring them with you to your new home. Discuss the idea of moving with family and friends. Don't bury your decision to move.
It also helps to write how you feel about moving out of your old house in a journal. Just getting the words on paper can make you feel better, can help you to feel empowered enough to take your memories with you to a new place.
After you decide on a house or apartment to move into, solicit the support of family and friends. Turn the move into a supportive event. Pull out your iPod and play your favorite songs. Let yourself laugh and recall fun times that you experienced in the house.
You could even take pictures of the move. Do the same when you arrive at your new home. After all, you're going to create warm memories at your new home too, the very memories that may one day be among your dearest.
Even with these steps, it may take months to adjust emotionally and psychologically to living in a new home. Be patient with yourself, the same as you would be with a good friend.
Excitement and the chance to live in a better neighborhood and a house that meets all of your family's needs and wants isn't the only thing that packing and moving brings. Moving to a new house can bring feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and even anxiety. You're not the only one who might experience feelings of unease as a house move nears. Your kids might feel stressed about the change.
How moving to a new house could unnerve your kids
If your kids have gone through just one unpleasant change, they might associate change with unwanted experiences. Whether you realize it or not, your kids could think that moving to a new home will bring bad changes their way. For example, your children might create images of not:
- Fitting in with kids who already live in the new neighborhood
- Seeing their current friends, the kids who live in the neighborhood you're leaving, again
- Adjusting well to attending a new school
- Feeling left out as they become the "new kid" everywhere they go
These fears can create physical symptoms. Your children might:
- Feel nauseous
- Experience significant appetite changes and eat more or less
- Struggle to get a good night of sleep
- Sleep more than normal as a way to avoid dealing with unwanted thoughts and emotions
- Spend more time alone as they ponder the many experiences that the move could create
Helping your kids enjoy a stress free house move
To reduce your children's stress, include them in move discussions. Start talking with your kids about a house move as soon as you start giving serious consideration to relocating. This helps your children to feel heard and important.
Talking with your children about moving to a new home lets your children know that their thoughts about moving really matter. It gives your kids a voice.
Fortunately, there are more ways to help your kids adjust to a house move. You could:
- Take your kids with you the next time you visit neighborhoods that you're seriously thinking about moving to.
- Let your children know what each member of the family can do to make the move smooth
- Point out great features of the new house
- Highlight advantages that your kids can gain from the move (e.g. more sports events, better schools, more entertainment options)
- Plan moves when your children don't have other major events going on in their lives
- Ask your children to share their thoughts and feelings about the move with you (but, don't pressure your kids to talk)
- Observe your kids and offer assistance and support as needed (For example, you might share uneasiness that you feel about packing, meeting new neighbors and getting accustomed to a new work commute.)
Stress free house moves for kids don't happen on their own
Bills, house repairs and hours of heavy lifting and packing may cost you sleep as you prepare to move into a new house. You might even think that your spouse and you are the only people who are losing sleep because you keep thinking about what will happen after you move. But, you'd be wrong. Your kids might be worried about the move.
Start talking to your kids early about house moves to reduce, and maybe even eliminate, house move worries. Also, take other focused actions to make moving to a new house and neighborhood stress free for you and your kids.