We recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia and are in the process of learning how to adjust to a new city as adults – it’s tough! It’s not that I’ve never moved to a new city before – in fact I moved to Chicago about 4 years ago after moving to New York City about 12 years prior to that, so this isn’t a new gig to me. BUT, each time I do it, I am surprised by how unsettling, lonely, terrifying, exciting, humbling, adventurous and joyous the experience can be – all at the same time. It really runs the gamut of emotions, so you have to go easy on yourself while you adjust. There are several things I’ve learned along the way that I think might be helpful to others who are in the same situation or who are thinking about taking the leap. Read on for my ideas on how to start anew!
When I think through my approach to getting to know a new place, it all boils down to finding your people, your places and your things. Here’s where to start:
Locate your go-tos – Look up your nearest gas station, grocery store, pharmacy, Target or Walmart or Costco, gym, yoga studio, nail salon, etc. Walk or drive there to clock how long it will take you and to familiarize yourself with the area and the services and the faces. Start going to these places regularly!
Establish a routine – This will create normalcy during a time of uncertainty, will help you get to know your surroundings and will allow you to see some familiar faces pretty quickly. Take a walk around your new hood or head to the same coffee shop every day, or go to yoga every Saturday morning, or do your grocery shopping at the same place a couple times per week.
Go on date nights – Get dressed up and go to the latest and greatest restaurants that everyone seems to be buzzing about. You’ll see, be seen and get a sense for the different types of people that are out and about. I love to do this because I like to dress up, but I also love to get new style inspiration from other people, too – it’s so fun to see what people in Atlanta are wearing right now. Plus, going on a date will remind the two of you that you are in this together and will give you a moment to disconnect from the stress of relocating and to connect to each other.
Look for your local haunts – Everyone needs a local restaurant and bar that they can head to whenever they don’t feel like cooking or need to get out of the house! No dressing up required. In Atlanta, we’ve found Ammazza for the best vegan pizza in the world and Carroll Street Café for drink specials and a casual atmosphere.
Find the green and the quiet– Seek out the parks, gardens, beltlines, farmer’s markets, museums, etc. Surrounding yourself with nature, art and healthy food is a great way to bring a little zen to your mind and body. I recently went to the ATL Botanical Garden to check out an amazing sculpture exhibit and it’s been one of my favorite excursions so far. We also visited the beltline, which is a revived old train line that has been turned into a walking/biking path around the city. I’ve also found a farmer’s market nearby where we’ll visit next week, and I’ve indulged in a fun day at The High Museum of Art where I saw a spectacular Vik Muniz exhibit. Oh, and the SCAD FASH fashion mini-museum has KILLER exhibits – like the recent Carolina Herrera one pictured below!
Accept all invitations and ask for new ones – Social contact with people who aren’t total strangers is important, and even if they don’t turn into dear friends, they may become part of your professional network or introduce you to someone new. We know a lot of people here peripherally but don’t have any truly close friends yet. That’s okay! Many of those folks have reached out to welcome us to the city and to ask us to drinks and we’ve accepted every invite. I’m also planning to ask my friends who used to live here for introductions to people they know. Again, maybe not best-friends-in-the-making, but there’s a common thread there (your friend) that you can play off of over a cocktail.
Seek out your community – Are you a blogger? An animal lover? A gardener? A tutor? Whatever it may be that makes you tick, look for that community. As a blogger I started using the hashtag #atlantabloggers in my Instagram posts, and we found each other! Ladies liked my photos and sent me direct messages on Instagram and Facebook, so I took the leap and asked them out for coffee. Now I’ve got a few friend-dates lined up and some leads on blogger collectives to join. I’ve also scouted out a bunch of new areas to shoot blog photos and through that, found the neighborhood where we decided to live (Cabbagetown)! A girlfriend of mine who moved to Atlanta a few months ago joined a sports league to get to know new folks – she’s athletic and looking for like-minded individuals, so this is a perfect way to find her team, so to speak.
Take a weekend trip – That’s right, I’m suggesting you get out of town. Every big city has weekend getaways within a couple hours’ reach. We recently took a break from all the moving hubbub and went to Asheville, NC for the weekend. It was a 3-hour drive with a fantastic respite from some of the stress and pressure we’d been feeling on the other side. We toured and stayed on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate and got a little silly tasting wines from their vineyards. What a blast! Other weekend excursions we plan to take include Winston-Salem, Nashville, Chattanooga, Savannah and Charleston.
SMILE – No, this won’t make you immediate friends or solve all your problems, but it might help you take things a little less seriously, might attract new people to you and – at the very least – will likely elicit another smile from someone else which makes you both human and friendly for just a split second. That’s comforting.
Have any of you ever moved to a new city? What are your tips and ideas for making your way? Sound off in the comments below!