When my husband and I moved from Houston to New York City, the adjustment was difficult, to say the least. But after more than a year in our new location, I think I've finally found the trick to feeling more at home here...or anywhere.
This is the secret: Become a regular somewhere. Or at a few places.
It's a really simple approach: just make a point to go to the same bar or restaurant each week. Try to go on the same day/around the same time so you'll start to see the same staff, who will then start to recognize/remember you. This will help you feel truly seen and known, like your presence has an effect on those around you. Because that "oh I matter to people here" feeling plays HUGE part in how at home you feel in a new setting.
This approach also makes it much easier to make new friends — because once you've seen someone's face a few times, it's so much easier to start a conversation with them.
And you definitely don't have to make ~the coolest club in town~ your regular spot.
Dive bars and cafes are great, as are workout classes. Look for places you're already going, and just make them a little more official in your mind. You can also try the approach at work. Just make a point to create a few little routines (like when you get your coffee, when/where you take a break, etc.), with the goal of being seen at the same places at roughly the same times when you're in the office.
The first place I (unintentionally!) put this into practice was a decidedly not cool location: the Duane Reade near my office.
After a few weeks of popping into the Duane Reade on the corner whenever I needed something, the check-out guy started to remember me, and it made my day whenever he greeted me with recognition.
The next place it happened was Mangia, where I often go for takeout breakfasts during the week. When I went in one morning after not going for a few weeks, the staff asked where I'd been; I turned into a heart-eye emoji right then and there.
Then our neighborhood bodega followed — my weekend breakfast order became "The usual?"
Nothing makes me feel more at home than walking through my neighborhood like I'm Belle in the opening number of Beauty and the Beast.
When you first move to a new place, it's easy to feel pressured to go out and try tons of new things.
But while you can (and should!) try new things when you move, thinking in terms of your routine can have a huge positive effect. Looking back at all the times I've moved, I can see that unwittingly using this approach played a big part the times I've adjusted successfully. (I also think it's part of why it's easier to make friends in college versus after — your class schedule creates a natural routine.)
And it's nice because it doesn't take a ton of work on your part!
A lot of the advice I've read for feeling at home after you've moved to a new place ignores the major emotional and financial drain that often accompanies relocating. But this approach is mostly a matter of being a bit more intentional about the things you're already doing. I also found that it was a huge a relief to give myself permission to go to the same cute bar I like each weekend instead of spending a ton of time/money/energy/effort to find a million new places to go.