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19 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Moved To A New City

Tried and tested.

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We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share their best tips for living in a new country. Here are their best answers:

Please note: Not all submissions are from Community users.

1. As soon as you possibly can, transform your new room into a cozy, safe, and personalized home.

@judytadeco / Via

"Before you do anything else, get your room in order and create a home for yourself. Everything and everyone will be new and strange and you won't feel like you belong right away. Having your own space to be safe in will be such a welcome relief." —michaelbanks

Here are some decorating tips for renters to get you started.

2. And pack and bring everything you need for a good night's sleep, because you'll need it!

Disney / Pixar / Via

While it's okay to leave behind most belongings in support of building a new life, bring all the essentials you need to get a restful night's sleep. You'll have an easier time getting excited about exploring when you have a full eight hours of sleep to look forward to. It'll also help you fall into a routine, an essential step to getting settled in.


3. Join a local expats group on Facebook to connect with other confused new residents.

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"I’ve lived in two different foreign countries and each time my life was made so much easier by joining the local expats groups on Facebook. They know what you’re going through and have all of the answers, tips, and tricks to help you create your new life in a new country!" —lindsayh49c8e7301

4. Unwind and learn a new language by watching your favorite show in the local language, if it's different from your native one.

@ajayperumal / Via

"I went to Germany as an exchange student my third year of high school and didn't speak a lick of German at the time. It was nice to find out that The Simpsons was syndicated there, and dubbed in German. Since I already knew all the episodes with the jokes and one-liners in English, I learned so much German just by watching my favorite show for 30 minutes a day." —degobrah

5. Before you arrive, reach out to friends of friends or old friends who live in your new city, and make a date to hang out. / Via

By scheduling at least one friendly hang-out before you get there, you can avoid the nasty shock of discovering the one acquaintance you thought you had has gone on vacation for a month, or much worse, moved out. You'll also find it much easier to get excited about your new city knowing you have at least one friendly face to share in the enthusiasm with you as soon as you get there.

6. Dress for the weather, so you can at least physically blend in wherever you go.

Paramount Pictures / Via

You'll find it exponentially easier to assimilate, befriend the locals, and find comfort in your new home if you dress like the locals do. For example, if the climate is cold, invest in a warm parka instead of trying to make do with layers and if it's warm, don't be the foreigner who wears ski beanies out.


7. Keep a journal during your first year — your future self will thank you for it.

@muttmutts / Via

Not only will it serve as a time capsule of all the magical feelings and thoughts you'll experience your first year in a new city, it'll also help you process them in the moment.

Here's a simple, ruled journal many people swear by.

8. Familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood by literally getting lost and finding your way back home.

@oiaf / Via

"I moved to England for six months for work and to get acquainted with the area I randomly walked around and got lost in the area. I also traveled to surrounding towns and cities and never stayed in my home location for more than a weekend." —taimyh

"I took a lot of scenic nature walks in my neighborhood, especially during sunsets or sunrises." –ashleyh4efa61abe

"I always like to throw on sneakers and get super lost exploring the city. It’s a great way to discover new areas while clearing your head." —samanthaj4618a7a2d

9. Get a pet (or bring a pet from home with you) to keep you company and help you make other dog-lovin' friends.

@lola_the_minischnauzer / Via

"My dog made me feel much less lonely being by myself in a new country. I even made new friends by going on walks and encountering other dog lovers." —lij493e5cc43

"Whenever someone asks me for advice on moving to a foreign country, I tell them: 'Bring your dog, or if you don't have a dog, get one.' I learned the language a lot faster, made my first friends, and found a way to take care of my mental health, since he got me out and about when I didn't feel like it, and was my emotional support when I was feeling shaky." —lauraa451912b3f

10. Stock up on spices and foods from home to easily, and deliciously, beat the homesick blues.

"Finding a store that sells ingredients from your country is the first thing I recommend putting on your to-do list." —shaunag40ab53fc0


11. Make your favorite childhood meal and, when you have one, share it with a new friend.

Open Road Films / Via


"On a particularly difficult stretch of time there's nothing like a meal that tastes a little bit like home." –idontwannabenamed

"Not only will it help ease the inevitable homesickness, your unique dishes will become a talking point at potlucks!" –llamagirl

12. But also commit to discovering new favorite snacks that you can only find in your new neighborhood.

@italianalabuonacucina / Via

"When I moved from the US to the UK, the thing that helped me the most was finding new local favorite restaurants and snacks. Whenever I got homesick I made the effort to have one of my new favorite sodas in a flavor I couldn’t get at home or to treat myself to a proper pub dinner and pint. It got me associating my new place as home." —Liz

13. Read novels in the native language to get you acquainted with local slang that standard textbooks might not have taught you.

NBC / Via

"What really made living in a new country easier for me was reading new novels. They contained idioms and dialogue that I could look up and use later." —mrebeccaescanamediazdel

14. Go to local, non-touristy (but safe) bars alone to meet people in a naturally social setting.

@TweetLikeAGirI / Via Twitter: @tweetlikeagiri

"Don’t be afraid to go to bars alone (unless you move to a country that’s more dangerous). I recently moved to Spain and went to bars that 'locals' primarily went to, and anytime someone asked if I was with anyone else I’d say I just moved there and didn’t know many people. It’s amazing how quickly people adopted me into their friend circles for the night. If you’re in a country that’s a bit more dangerous for a solo person, find a walking tour or bar crawl. You’ll be amazed how many people you meet." —gretcheno3


15. Take fitness classes to get a dose of serotonin and explore new areas of town.

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"I started taking workout classes through an app called Guava Pass, which allowed me to try out tons of new and fun workouts (surf board yoga, for example) in all different parts of Bangkok. It’s a good way to stay active, fight the blues, and get familiar with new neighborhoods." —lindsayz44d13333a

16. Accept every. single. offer. to have someone show you around or take you to a new restaurant.

Universal Pictures / Via

"It's always optimal to get an insider's view of what the new city you'll be living in is really like." —acat

17. Find volunteering opportunities to give back to your community and get instantly plugged into another group of new friends.

Columbia Pictures / Via

"I’m not a very outgoing person and never know how to start conversations, so being thrust into a group of people where everyone had a common goal and activity to work on made it easier to connect. Many people I met through volunteering are like family to me now." —llamagirl

"I'm a huge animal lover, so I found a local cat rescue and I started fostering cats for them. It's helped me get to know my new town better, meet people who aren't other Americans, and helped me feel like I'm contributing to my new community in a small way." —lindsayb35

18. Become a regular at a coffee shop or restaurant to make your 'hood feel like home — because also it's just, like, cool to be a regular 😎.

@julie / Giphy / Via

"Find a couple of places near you (coffee shops, grocery stores) and become a regular. It's easy to want to try out all the new places but seeing familiar faces and getting to know just a few places really well will make it feel like home quicker." — Elizabeth Sell, Facebook

19. And finally, get familiar with the four stages of cultural adjustment and understand that with time, you'll overcome each step.

Disney / Via

Instead of trying to hurry through the assimilation process, remember that the little moments of social discomfort, cultural revelation, and even financial stress, are new opportunities to exercise empathy, resourcefulness, and intuition. Not everyone has the chance to travel and experience novel situations, so lean into the discomfort and have some fun! And once you're all settled in (which will happen, eventually), remember to pay the kindness forward.

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