I was raised in a small southern town. I lived in the same place for 32 years and was surrounded by immediate family.
Then my family moved to a different state and into a very large town.
We’ve all heard the saying that home is where the heart is. For years, I didn’t feel like I was at “home” in my new surroundings. When we would plan a trip back to visit my family, I would say that we were going home. It has just been in the past few years (more than eight years later) that when I speak of home, I mean where I really live now.
Starting over without family or friends nearby, no net work, no tribe was very scary to me! I felt very alone for quite a while. Everything that I knew was within the four walls of my home. I didn’t really venture out a lot and if I did, I felt lost immediately, both in the physical sense and emotionally. I eagerly waited for my husband to get home every afternoon. He was my one friend. (no pressure there, huh?)
A friend of mine recently moved to a new state, more than 9 hours away from her childhood home. I have been admiring how well she has transitioned. She seems to have already found her friend group and is loving her new life there. What took me years to do, she has done in months.
I started thinking about how that is done. How do you just start over? What could I have done to build a life in my new environment sooner?
I’ve come up with a few things that have helped me and that I wish I had done sooner. I’m so thankful that I now feel at home and actually enjoy living here.
Find your tribe.
This was the most important piece for me. I often think that I am an introvert but I LOVE being in the presence of others, especially those moms who are in the same season. Find those people. Search for a group. Some possibilities might be a church group, a MOPS group, or a volunteer group that interests you. Take a class. Find a job. If your kids are in school, make it a priority to be involved in the activities. In my case, it was through taking a teaching job that I met some of my dearest and closest friends.
Learn about and appreciate the area.
Is there a particular culture or history that is unique to the area? Is there a local signature food? What do those who have lived there forever know about the area? Learn about and try to experience those things and you will begin to feel like you are a part of it too.
Meet your neighbors.
This may sound crazy but you have something in common with the people next door. You live on the same street, on the same floor, or in the same building. Those people could end up being your closest friends. They can watch out for your home, your children, and your pets. Introduce yourself and get to know them. You just might find a new friend next door!
Appreciate the surroundings.
Find the beautiful parts. Visit the parks. Visit the downtown area if possible. Look for the positive. I now believe that every place has beauty if we take the time to search for it.
This may sound silly since you feel like the new person. I spent so much time feeling unwelcome that I didn’t take the time to welcome others into my life. You never know who else is new or searching for a friend. You are now a member of the community. The people moving into the area will be searching for their new friends too. You can be the person to show up with an apple pie when a new neighbor moves in!
Have you moved to a new location? What are some things that you did to help make your new home feel like home? I’d love to hear from you!