5 Tips for Thriving in a New City


If you just moved or are about to move, you might be wondering how you can establish normalcy in your new city. As a military spouse who has moved three times in the last five years (including one international move), I’ve found that to thrive in a new place, it boils down to five things.

#1 Check Your Perspective

You may or may not be excited about your new city, but it’s important to remember that your perspective is what shapes your entire experience. If you can only see and focus on the negative, you are only going to be negative and unhappy in your new home. On the other hand, if you look at your new city as an exciting adventure, a fresh start, an open door to new opportunities, or a new chapter of your family’s life, then you are setting yourself up for success. Your perspective is the most important tool to take with you to your new home.


#2 Make Your House Feel Like Home

Unpack your boxes! Try to take everything out of all of the boxes within the first week. This is a great chance to purge stuff that no longer serves you in this new phase of life. As you unpack, you can designate a Trash pile and a Donate pile. Find a home for everything else as quickly as possible. When your Donate pile is complete, go to your local thrift shop the next day to take care of it—don’t let it sit in a corner or closet. Just get it done.

Decorate. Your home doesn’t need to look magazine-worthy, but hang your family’s familiar art and photos on the walls. Hang your curtains. Place a rug on the floor. Throw your favorite blanket over the couch. Find a sunny spot for your plant. Surround yourself with familiar items that bring forth happy memories. These small touches will instantly make your new house feel homier.


#3 Maintain or Establish Family Routines, Rhythms, and Traditions

Another major key to establishing normalcy is to keep your family’s typical rhythm, flow, routines, and traditions alive as much as possible. Did you follow a predictable morning routine and bedtime routine in your last house? Do the same things in your new one. Did you go to the library every Wednesday and have a pizza and movie night every Friday? Keep those activities alive and well. Honor the same annual traditions for holidays, birthdays, and vacations. The sooner you fall into your same, familiar routine in your new house, the sooner you and your family will feel “normal” again.

If you didn’t have daily, weekly, monthly, or annual rhythms and traditions established in your last home, a big move is the perfect time to work on creating them! Having a predictable routine brings a sense of comfort and security, especially for young children. Rhythms help ease transitions, establish habits, improve productivity, and mark the passing of time. They are also reasons to celebrate and can create lifelong memories.


#4 Find Your Community

You can do all of the fun things, but if you don’t have at least one good friend, you won’t feel completely “at home” in your new city. Humans are relational beings. We are built for community and connection, so make it one of your first goals to find “your place” in your new community.

How do you find friends in a new city? Look in places where you know you will have at least one thing in common with the people you meet.

  • People Who Live Nearby: Start with your neighbors. Knock on the door and introduce yourself! Depending on where you live, your neighbors may not bring over a plate of cookies the moment they see a moving truck. Don’t wait for others to welcome you, or you may never know the name of the person who lives right next door.
  • People Who Know the Same People: Who do you already know, and who do they know? Maybe start with your co-workers or your spouse’s co-workers and their families. Or the parents of your child’s friends.
  • People With Similar Titles: Are you a mom? Join a mom group like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) or come to a Coastal Bend Mom Collective Event!
  • People With Similar Hobbies: What do you like to do? Do you enjoy running or reading? Look for a local running club or book club. Are you active? Strike up a conversation with someone at the beach or park or gym.
  • People Who Practice the Same Faith: Are you spiritual? Find a church or other religious organization to find people who hold similar values.
  • People With Similar Passions: Are you passionate about a particular cause? Find volunteer opportunities for organizations that support your cause. There, you can find people who also care about the things you care about.


#5 Discover What Makes Your City Unique

Be a tourist in your own city. Do a little research and use blogs like Coastal Bend Mom Collective to find fun attractions and activities that are unique to your area. Create a bucket list of things you want to try or do over the next few years. You can even break your bucket list down into categories such as restaurants, shopping, family attractions, cultural events and activities, sports and outdoor recreation, weekend trips, vacation plans, and date night ideas. Be persistent about actively checking items off the list at a constant, steady pace. Don’t try to cram everything in at once, but also try not to go a month or so without checking off a single place, event, or activity.

Flexibility is also key. You may have a list of big plans and dreams for the next couple of years, but life is good at throwing curveballs (hello, global pandemic!). If you maintain an open mind and always try to find the bright side, you can shift your attention to other positive things.

Finding your new normal after a move may take time, but if you are persistent about keeping a positive attitude, making your house feel like home, maintaining family routines and traditions, finding your community, and exploring your city like a tourist, you will soon find a cozy spot to call home.