How to get to know a new city 

March 10, 2020
One of the joys of the internet is the amount of information available at the touch of a button. Before and during the move research the area of the city you are going to live and work in. Look for and save, restaurants, cafes and markets you would like to visit. Check out tours you might enjoy and generally try to get a feel for what the city is like, relaxed, fast paced or somewhere in between? 

The best way to get to know a new city initially is to leave your home and go for a walk. Explore the streets, shops and transport near your home. Find a subway station. Where can you go on that line? Come across a park. What facilities does it have? All of this information will help you become more familiar with your new home. 

Top tip: If you aren’t great with directions, pin your home on Google Maps before you leave, ensure your battery is charged and you can use your phone to direct you back!

Once you are familiar with the area around your home it’s time to explore the wider city. Start with what a tourist would typically see. These sights and experiences are a great way to become familiar with the major attractions in the city. If available, start with a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Take some time to explore one or two of the highlights and make a note of others you might like to visit later. Look for ‘off the beaten track’ tours too, they might explore political, cultural or historical elements of your new home. They often provide more insight than a standard tourist tour.

Once you have explored the city through a visitor’s eyes, really get to know the city by doing the things most of us do no matter where we live. What these things are will depend on your interests, but they may include:

  • joining your local library
  • joining a gym
  • finding a farmer’s market
  • finding a good cup of coffee
  • finding a great cinema
  • taking some photos

These practical ways to become more involved in your new city will help you build routine and over time become more familiar with your new city. 

Last but by no means least, one of the trickiest elements of expat life is building a social network. Make this easier by becoming part of the community. Some expats join a local sports team, choir or book club. Becoming involved in your local community will also help you make friends outside of work, often a welcome break from high pressure expat roles.

Do not underestimate the time it takes to get to know and truly feel at home in a new city. It may take months but in time and with some effort, it will begin to feel like home.

Ensure you have the health insurance protection you need with international health insurance including an expat assistance programme with the support you might need if settling in is more difficult than you thought.