You can start making your new city or neighbourhood feel like home before you move
Creating balance in your new life in the city you’re moving to is an aspect of relocation that is often over looked. Let’s face it, there are so many other details that must be considered, packing, buying or renting your home, finding a job and finding a school for the kids are just a few. When you move, you’re not just leaving a location, you are leaving behind a support network of friends and family, involvement in your community, your favorite workout place, your place of worship and many other essentials that make up your feeling of belonging.
Kids are resilient, adults might need some help
Adults are especially susceptible to relocation depression. This depression is not due to moving to your new city, its due to leaving your community behind. Children on the other hand are much more resilient. When I was a kid, my parents moved to Zimbabwe. I didn’t know a word of English and both of my parents worked. The first day of daycare, they taught the caregivers 3 words in Danish (my mother tongue) kukka, tisse and spise translated: crap, piss and eat! With that, they were able to understand my basic needs and they were able to communicate the most important things to an ADHD 3 year old. Within a few months I spoke fluent 3-year old English. We heard a similar story from parents of a child that recently relocated to Spain. At the end of her first day of school, they asked what school was like. She responded " I really had fun - I played house with Lucia and Alegra - Lucia was the mom and Alegra was the dad and I was the little girl" She paused and thought for a space of time, as she didn't speak any Spanish, then added, "at least I think I was the little girl".
Steps to start feeling at home before you move
Being adults, we’re not always as carefree and adaptable as kids. Involving yourself in your new community before you move, is not as hard as it seems. Online resources like Canadian Relocation can help you get started. In fact, early involvement in your new city or town is very important to feeling part of the community and will make a move to an unfamiliar place a lot less stressful. It will make a positive difference to the early adoption of your community and your community’s adoption of you. We’re sharing our top 8 tips that will help you bring back that feeling of belonging and the happiness that follows.
1. Your new community is only a click away
Start an online exploration of the neighbourhood that you are moving to. You can search for community newsletters in your city and/or neighborhood. A quick google of the phrase ‘Calgary community newsletter’ brings up a great list of monthly newsletters for each of the city's communities. Local newsletters connect neighbours, community associations, and local businesses. These newsletters can be an invaluable source of information, everything from local events to important contact information such as nearby hospitals.
2. Volunteering opportunities
Connecting with volunteer associations in your new city can be a wonderful introduction to people in your new community. There are literally thousands of organizations that require volunteers. Even if you have little or no experience to offer, organisations almost never turn away volunteers, you will always have something to contribute. Here are some ideas:
• Hospitals or senior care centres
• Grade schools that your children attend
• Fund raising groups like the cancer society, heart and lung etc
• Small community theatre groups
• Serve at a soup kitchen
• Religious groups that are of interest to you.
• Habitat for Humanity
We’ve got more volunteering ideas in 50 cities across Canada to help you find what you’re looking for.
3. Kids Can Open Doors
If you are relocating with a child, contact the maternity ward at a city hospital and ask where the nearest parents’ groups meet. Social sites such as Meetup can also be a great way to make connections before you move. Parents’ groups are a fantastic way to interact with other adults who are very much in touch with the issues that face you as a parent and can help you and your child feel more welcome in the community. If you are relocating with a special needs child, we have compiled a list of resources to help you and your child transition to your new home.
4. Books and Wine
If one of your passions is reading, major bookstores such as Chapters or searching My Book Club can help you locate a local book club. Book clubs are a great way to meet new people, drink a few glasses of wine and discover other ways of becoming more involved in the community.
5. Your Place of Worship
Most religious groups are well represented in Canada’s major cities. Finding a place of worship can help you locate a strong support network before you move. In addition, the sense of community and inclusion will provide you with a sense of belonging. Activities planned by your place of worship can be important social events for you to meet new friends. You can ask the leader of your current place of worship for an introduction or search a places of worship in your destination city.
6. Your Culture Bridges The Gap
My parents were immigrants to Canada. When we moved to Calgary, they were fortunate to find an association that brought together their Danish heritage and their new Canadian home, the Danish Canadian Club. As immigrants, they quickly found community and connections that allowed them to start a business. The familiarity of the language and culture made for immediate friendships and the collective experience of other immigrants helped them assimilate into Canadian culture much faster. Even if you're not an first generation immigrant, your heritage can be a powerful connector to your new community. We've added a list of local cultural associations on our city profile pages.
7. Work It Out!
Contact the local YMCA in your new city. Most of them offer fitness classes, swimming, hockey and a host of other sports. It’s an inexpensive way to meet people who are interested in the same sports you are. You may also be able to transfer your existing gym membership to your new location, be sure to ask before you leave.
8. Continuing Education
Every one of the educational institutions in your new city, including the board of education, community colleges, universities and technical schools, offer continuing education courses. You can study or perhaps teach. They are well attended, and it will give you an opportunity to meet other adults who share your interests.
Finally, when you arrive in your new city don't be afraid to meet people in places you wouldn't usually visit. If you've never been to a play hosted by a community theatre group or on a guided ghost walk, now's the time to try it. You'll be out of your normal routine and will be naturally curious about trying new things. You’ll be surprised how open and welcoming people will be with you, especially in unusual places, when you share the story of your journey to your new home. Be spontaneous in your interactions and accept invitations that you may not usually accept. Remember that your personal community is built on your interactions with others. Your new experiences and connections can expand your horizons and you may find new interests, passions and friends that you never thought possible. Here is some inspiration for finding unique and odd things to explore in your city.
Find more moving information, planners, checklists and tips in our moving centre: