Let’s assume you’re already moved into your new flat, in a new city. What now?
Walk in concentric circles
Okay, you might have more pressing matters. But one of the best ways to get to know your new locale is to walk it. Walk around the block surrounding your apartment; then walk around the two-block radius surrounding it. And then in a three-block circle. Pay attention! Take note of shops, cafes, or businesses you’ll find useful in your new life. It’s okay to take notes at this point—eventually you’ll get the lay of the land.
Locate basic necessities
Either on your walk, through asking neighbors, or by searching online, figure out your nearest grocery store, coffee shop, restaurants, library, etc. You may switch later—if you attend Columbia, for example, it’s better to take the subway downtown to buy food than to frequent boutique shops near campus—but you should figure out how to survive in the meantime.
Figure out public transportation
I cannot for the life of me figure out bus systems—the process always takes multiple embarrassing conversations with bus drivers. Better do this immediately, so no one will ask, “oh, are you new here?” when you’ve lived in your new city half a year. Look up buses and trains; find your nearest stops. All aboard!
Relocate your hobbies
What’s your poison—running? Yoga? Comic book conventions? Vintage cinema? Whatever kept you happy in your old city should probably follow you to your new one. You’ll meet likeminded people and maintain a sense of normalcy in the midst of change.
I know, easier said than done. But any way you can make friends, whether at your new job, by meeting friends of friends, by joining OkCupid, or just chatting up strangers, a few friends in your new city will make life a lot more fun.
If you have any other city orientation tips, be sure to let others know on Facebook!