5 Ways to Feel at Home in a New City

Picadilly circus in London

When you move to a new city, and maybe even a new country, at first, everything around you is different and exciting. It can also be a little daunting and scary, but at the beginning, you don’t even realize how quickly time passes.

The first days and weeks fly by as you settle in, find a place to live, and maybe get to know the public transport system. Which, in a city like London, might take you many weeks and even more wrong bus and tube rides. (Definitely not speaking out of personal experience here…)

Picadilly circus in London

But after the initial excitement and getting to know the basics of your new surroundings, you begin to long for something familiar. You start to think about places back home that you know, your old neighborhood and your friends, and how you simply felt confident and at ease. That is when you begin to realize that you do not yet feel truly at home in your new city.

Of course, depending on whether you have been to the city before, whether you already know other people living there, and how large your new city is, you might settle quite quickly and easily. But to make sure you feel at home as quickly as possible no matter what, here are 5 tips to help you become a local in no time:

1. Get to know your neighborhood

This might seem like an obvious one, but really becoming familiar with the area where you live can help you feel at home very quickly. When I first moved to London I lived in Whitechapel, a buzzing multicultural part of London with busy Brick Lane at its heart. On weekends, I would explore all streets and alleys around my house, find tucked away green spaces and little shops and cafés that helped me get a good understanding of the part of London I lived in. When you move to a place, make sure you find out about opening times of local shops, train and bus routes, parks, and services such as doctors and dry cleaners. Knowing details such as these you ensure that you are never caught unawares because you missed the last bus going home or don’t know where to find a doctor when you suddenly need one.

Libreria book shop

2. Find your new favorite place

What helped me to settle in a lot was finding a place I could return to whenever I felt like it, a new favorite hang out. For me, someone who can’t exist without coffee, this place was a coffee shop. More specifically, White Mulberries, which was close to my boyfriend’s old flat. We came here almost every weekend in my first few weeks in London and it became my personal refuge when I needed a quiet moment and familiar surroundings. For you, this might be a park, a library, a certain street or alley, or simply a specific bench along a river. Wherever you find this place, visiting it will ground you again and provide a sense of belonging, as it will be your personal favorite place to come to whenever you feel the need to.

White Mulberries coffee shop in London

3. Join a club!

More than spending time exploring and getting to know your new city, spending some time in your new home might actually help you with feeling comfortable where you live. You left your old comfort zone behind, so now you need to create a new place where you can return to after a long day at work and feel cozy and relaxed. Whether you move into your own house or only rent a room in a shared flat, creating your own personal space will ensure you look forward to coming home every day. You might not be able to bring all your belongings to your new place, but buying a few items that create a familiar and personal atmosphere doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for budget shops and similar places that often might have a homeware section. Personal favorites for an instant cozy-factor include fairy lights, candles, golden clips to hang posters or prints with, plants, and throws and pillows for your bed or sofa.

4. Add personality to your new flat our house

More than spending time exploring and getting to know your new city, spending some time in your new home might actually help you with feeling comfortable where you live. You left your old comfort zone behind, so now you need to create a new place where you can return to after a long day at work and feel cozy and relaxed. Whether you move into your own house or only rent a room in a shared flat, creating your own personal space will ensure you look forward to coming home every day. You might not be able to bring all your belongings to your new place, but buying a few items that create a familiar and personal atmosphere doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for budget shops and similar places that often might have a homeware section. Personal favorites for an instant cozy-factor include fairy lights, candles, “picture frames” made out of washi tape, plants, and throws and pillows for your bed or sofa.washi tape frame and postcard

5. Spend time at home

Now that you have created a space that you love coming home to and feel comfortable in, take some time and spend some hours at home. Whether you are watching movies, reading a book, playing video games, or simply relaxing on your bed, spending time at home makes it feel like your own personal space which becomes part of your new life. It is tempting to explore and discover your new city whenever you have some spare time, but taking it all in in the first weeks and months can be quite exhausting. Personally, I found that even though I wanted to learn as much as possible about London when I moved here, taking an afternoon off exploring and simply lying on my bed listening to music and reading a book in my new flat was an important source of energy and made me feel calm, something I definitely needed after moving to this big, chaotic, bustling place. Creating a new comfort zone is essential when you leave your known surroundings, no matter how small or large this new place might be.

desk space at home

These are my top 5 tips for settling in a new city and feeling like a local as quickly as possible. Moving to somewhere new can be exciting but also stressful, so make sure to take some time and settle into your new home, get to know your surroundings, and create a space you feel comfortable and calm in.

Good luck, and let me know how you settled into a new place in a new city!

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