Six Best Settlement Strategies
After extensive primary and secondary research, Sue Ellson, the Founder of Newcomers Network, recommends the following strategies to help you overcome the common challenges of relocation - for any location. They are most effective when you apply them in your own personal style.
1. Find a friend
People of any age and background can make great new friends. Most importantly, friends can answer questions and share stories with you. Meaningful reciprocal relationships lead to a good quality of life and are important to our wellbeing. Regardless of how long you plan to stay in your new location, make an effort to attend events where you will meet other people who share either a common interest or who have also moved.
Most newcomers will say that the moment they felt like their new location was home (or happier) was when they found a friend. It is extremely important to discover new friends (and of course keep in touch with your existing friends and family). Aim for a mix of friends - people who are 'locals' as well as other people who may have a similar background to you (from the same country or speak the same language) or people who have also moved from another location (as they know how important it is to find new friends). When you meet people of different ages, backgrounds and cultures, life can be even more interesting and it will feel more like an extended family network.
Newcomers Network hosts regular events and we encourage you to join us at these.
2. Collect local information
Most western style communities around the world have local information booklets, resources and websites. Find this information and read through it. In Australia, the best source of information about the community you have just become a part of is your local council. To find a council, type in the following words into an internet search query
your state, your country, council (or municipal association), local government
In Australia, councils are also listed in the White Pages Business and Government telephone book/online.
Contact or visit the council and ask for a 'New Resident's Kit' or 'Community Information Booklet.' These resources provide information on local activity groups and details of council services (like garbage collection days).
You can also visit your nearest public library or visitor information centre - many of which have computers with internet access available to the public and a lot of local information brochures. The State and National Government websites are usually useful portals to further information.
Familiarise yourself with local public transport options and find easy ways to get around and look for a new doctor, dentist, vet (if you have animals) etc.
If you have moved within a country, update your details on the electoral role and tell your friends and family your new contact details.
It is helpful to make a list of services you have used in your previous location and collect new information for your new location. Check if you need medical insurance, ambulance cover, automobile membership, a new driver's license etc - as they usually need to be arranged within three months of arrival.
Ask people that you meet where are the best sources of local information. To confirm accuracy, see if you can source the same advice from more than one publisher (that's the reason most people request three quotes if they are requesting professional help).
3. Start new activities
Starting or continuing a hobby, sport or interest will help you meet people with similar interests in a non-threatening environment. These people will also be a great source of practical information, like where you can find a good hairdresser or the best food ingredients! Listen to the local radio, read a free home-delivered local newspaper and some of the major daily newspapers. Consider attending various events, exhibitions and a major sporting event.
4. Expect it to be challenging
A successful transition is largely dependent on your expectations - if you expect it to be challenging, you are less likely to find it difficult. Do not be surprised if settling into the new location takes longer than you anticipated - even if you have only moved one suburb (sometimes friends who are now only 20 minutes away disappear after a move when your regular routines change). New friends can share your joys and challenges and provide friendly advice and support.
5. Develop new routines
By creating new routines, like visiting a new place every month, you will create memories and enjoy new experiences. Celebrate your new lifestyle by a regular restaurant dinner, a weekend trip to the beach, healthy activities, short vacations, group outings etc. Act like a 'tourist' and discover the local attractions. Invite your new friends to join you and you will soon create another extended family. Be careful how much information you share with new work colleagues - it is good to have a mix of friends.
6. Be curious - ask questions
Most people are happy to answer questions and provide advice (although I am aware that some cultures perceive this as a sign of weakness). If you cannot ask people directly, do some more research, but do not battle on without finding the information you need. With so much to organise when you first arrive in a new location, it is sometimes a good idea to write down your questions so that when you do find someone to ask, you can ask all of your questions at once. Questions are also a good way to start conversations with new people.
Sometimes you may need to consult a professional advisor and pay a fee. This can sometimes save you more money and time in the long run - but it is also a good idea to do some preliminary research first so that you can decide how much to spend and compare it with what other service providers charge and be an aware consumer. It can be a good idea to confirm your arrangements in writing before making any payment. There is an old saying about 'saving pennies and wasting pounds,' so if you have been given a qualified referral for a good service, it may be worthwhile spending the money - after all, if you have a health concern, you normally pay to get professional advice - and moving is not just about changing the location of your personal items.
All the best with your move/s!
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