14 Things You Should Do When You Move to a New Town

Moving to a new town is exciting, but it also can be intimidating. The physical move and subsequent unpacking is stressful enough; then you have to set up a whole new life, which requires weeks of your time, money, and energy. To help make the transition at least a little smoother for you, here's a mini-checklist of a few things to do when you move to a new town.

1. Change Your Address With the Post Office

So you don't fall behind on your bills because you didn't receive them in time, it's probably best to change your address with the post office a couple weeks before the move. It'll take about that long for the change to be processed and instituted. In the meantime, it's not a bad idea to make nice with the new renters/owners of your old place so you can ask if they wouldn't mind holding any stragglers that the mail carrier delivers after the move. Send a polite email at two and four-week intervals to pick up anything that fell through the cracks during the changeover.

2. Visit the DMV If You Move Out of State

Nobody wants to visit the DMV because it's literally, like, the worst place on earth, but if you move to a new state it's necessary, whether you think so or not. You'll need a new license and new plates, and the process will probably be easier if you take care of these things sooner than later.

3. Stop by the Town Hall for Local Service Schedules and Policies

Some things you'll want to know that you may not think of immediately include trash and recycling days, street cleaning, how to dispose of yard waste, if you need permits for home-based activities like yard sales, and more. Every town differs in schedules and policies and you'll avoid unnecessary fines if you brush up early.

4. Introduce Yourself to Your New Neighbors

Remember when we were kids and our neighbors were neighborly to one another? We're not as open and friendly as we used to be to the people who live in the vicinity of our home — many neighbors prefer to stick to themselves these days — but that doesn't mean that everyone is a Scrooge.

I'm an outgoing guy by nature, so it's always my policy to introduce myself to my neighbors whenever I've moved. Most of the time a simple hello will lead to an initial conversation if you and your neighbors cross paths as you're moving in, but if that opportunity doesn't present itself, don't be afraid to knock on doors to let your neighbors know that you're new around these parts. If you're feeling particularly friendly, maybe you could host a mini meet-and-greet one early evening where you'll serve snacks and cocktails and get to know one another.

Having at least a friendly relationship with your neighbors is important — in my book anyway — because you never know when you'll need a little help here and there, whether it's to keep an eye on your house while you're away, watch your pet for a bit, or that all-important cup of sugar when you're baking during a blizzard.

5. Explore the Area on Foot or by Bike

You can get a general idea of what's around your new home in the car, but you'll get a more specific view of the establishments that make up your area on foot or bicycle. Concentrate on the downtown area of where you live since that's likely where you'll find the bulk of the important businesses that you'll frequent as a resident.

6. Pop Into the Visitors' Center for Info on the Town's Highlights

I love visitors and tourists' centers because they have a comprehensive collection of all the info on your town that you'll need. Brochures, flyers, and coupons for the hottest restaurants, hotels, activities, and more are all available to help you familiarize yourself with the area as you get settled. Take home hard copies of these materials for your own use and for future guests who may visit you.

7. Patronize the Local Restaurants and Shops

While I don't recommend dining out often as a lifestyle choice, when you first move to a new place it's not a bad idea seeing as, your kitchen will probably be a mess for the first few days, and it's a good way to get out there and meet the locals. I also try to remember my servers' names — I jot them down in the notes section of my phone with characteristics to help me remember the person the next time — so eventually we can be on a name basis with one another. This practice not only helps me feel like I'm planting roots thereby becoming more comfortable with my surroundings, but it's a smart way to ingratiate yourself with local business owners and their staff as a supportive member of the community — and sometimes that has its perks, if you know what I mean.

8. Go Out and Get a Feel for the Social Scene

Where do the locals hangout? The best way to find out is to hit up a few of the bars, entertainment venues, and other party spots in town. You don't have to make this a regular thing — I totally understand that not everybody is built for this kind of social life — but I do think a night on the town hanging out at local joints is a good way to get a feel for the area's vibe and the type of people that make up its population.

9. Sign up for Meetup Groups That Pique Your Interest

If you're moving to a new town without any friends nearby, you'll want to make some; the transition will be much easier when you're not feeling lost and lonely. The online activity site Meetup helps connect users with groups and activities that pique their interests, and is a great place to start. Personally, I've joined groups that focus on brunch, my dog, outdoor activities, trivia nights, and more, and there are plenty of other groups that are sure to compliment your own idea of fun.

10. Research Local Clubs and Groups and Try a Few Out

One of the first things I do when I've moved to a new place is find the local recreational and social sports leagues. I love them because they get me out of the house, keep me active, and introduce me to new people. These groups aren't just kickball anymore either. I've joined dodgeball, bowling, trivia, cornhole teams, but other sports like softball, volleyball, basketball, flag football, and water polo also are offered in some areas. You'll also want to find other groups in which you want to participate, which includes church groups, professional groups, and support groups.

11. Find New Health Professionals in Your Network

While you may not need a health professional immediately when you move, eventually you'll need to find a new primary care physician and dentist, at the very least. To make the process more efficient, it may be helpful to ask your former health care professionals for your records to give to the new ones. Understand that it also may take a while to find suitable doctors in your insurance network and/or get an appointment, so you may want to plan ahead.

12. Register for a Library Card

Library attendance isn't what it used to be, but it's still helpful to have a library card in case you want to check out a book or free movie. It's also a good place to access free Wi-Fi if yours isn't set up right away.

13. Cross-Reference Your Social Media Contacts for Friends in the Area

Another great way of making new real-life friends is to cross-reference your friend list on social media to see who's in your area. Often just updating your status that you're moving to so-and-so area will reveal a few folks that are nearby. It's a good start, especially since you already know each other somewhat online.

14. Ask for Recommendations or Introductions From Social Media Friends

If cross-referencing your friend list with the area to which you've just moved doesn't pan out, don't be afraid to ask generally for recommendations or introductions. You don't know who may have visited or lived in your town previously or who may know someone in your area with whom they can connect you. This also works offline with neighbors, coworkers, and especially folks in the service industry in your neighborhood.

Do you know other important things we should do when we move to a new place? Let me know some of your suggestions in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

Wow, I haven't thought of many of these things :) I'm moving out soon, so I remember about all the formal stuff but I like the idea of, for example, checking the restaurants in the area and remembering servers' names ;)