Along the way, I’ve gathered some tips and tricks that you may find useful on your journey. Here are five pieces of advice for testing a new place as a potential home base to see if it’s the right fit for you:
Investigate the environment as if you were a tourist.
While downtowns and touristy areas can give you a sense of a city’s vibe, having a true sense of a community necessitates going beyond the gleaming main streets and into the communities where people live, work, and play. What is the best way to go about doing this? You become enthralled. You seek advice from baristas, drivers, bartenders, and concierges on where to shop, where to hang out, and how to see the world through the eyes of a local.
I like to ask locals the following questions when I visit a new place:
• Where do the residents go on weekends?
• What’s your favorite park to visit when it’s not too crowded?
• What are some of the city’s best-kept secrets that tourists appear to miss?
• What is the best “missing gem” in the city?
• Do you have a favorite dive bar, brunch spot, or locally
Gather knowledge as you fly.
You don’t just learn about a city by visiting different parts of it; you also learn a lot by physically moving to and from these places: Is it easy to get around here? What public transit options are available? Is the city well-connected and accessible?
When I visit a new location, I like to go for walks as much as possible — there’s no better way to get a sense of a place than by pounding the pavement.
Seek out a link (trust me, you have them).
When making a move, it’s important to speak with locals to get the most up-to-date information and feedback about what it’s like to live there. You may think you don’t know someone in a specific place, but you almost certainly do, and thanks to social networking, making those connections is easier than ever.
When you’re planning a major move, you’ll need to gather a lot of information. It’s tempting to approach this process logically, gathering details and statistics and organizing them into binders, itineraries, and pros and cons lists. But here’s the thing: being satisfied in a job isn’t always a logical or quantifiable definition. A lot of it comes down to how you feel when you’re in a certain location.
Everything needs a different amount of time to adapt. While one person may be able to happily relocate to a new city after only a month, another may need more time. It takes about three months for me to feel fully at home in a new neighborhood, based on my own experience. By now, you should know where to locate the best coffee shop and take-out outlets in your area; you should have found the best running routes around your streets; you should have worked out the specifics of the public transit system (hopefully) – and you should have learned the quickest way to get to work. After six months, you will have a good idea of which neighborhoods to visit and which to avoid in your new place. You’ve even developed a few informal or personal companions, whether they’re teammates, colleagues, or neighbors.
However, it takes about a year to feel at ease in a foreign city after witnessing all four seasons. You’ve seen your community in all four seasons – autumn, winter, spring, and summer – and you know what to expect. Your friendship circle is most likely healthy and/or eventually forming, and you are at ease with your new career.
So, if you have the opportunity to explore the location you’re considering, set aside your lists, guides, and binders and get lost. See what you can find by wandering around, taking wrong turns, and talking to strangers. You could come across a destination, meet someone, or experience a moment that makes you think, “Hey, this is home.”