Every community has its own personality. Some are schizophrenic. And the personality of one neighborhood is typically different from another just a few blocks away. It’s the people and the homes that give a neighborhood and community its personality. And you have just changed its personality by moving into it. Change your community for the better by offering your good qualities—and those of your living group—to the new place. Encourage other members of your household to do the same.
Of course, being a newcomer isn’t a bad thing. It just makes you “different.” In fact, being a newcomer in some areas can give you opportunities that being an old-timer doesn’t. You can ask for directions: Say, I’m new here, so can you tell me how to get to the mall? You can take advantage of Newcomer discounts offered by the Welcome Wagon and other ventures. Of course, if you move to a small town, they already knowthat you’re a newcomer.
Someday you’re going to have to give up your newcomer status and become an old-timer. Some prefer the term veteran resident. No, there’s typically no ceremony or dues involved. You just wake up one day and everyone treats you like you attended school locally. How can you ultimately attain status as a veteran resident?
- Find a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, ashram, or meeting for sharing your spiritual side.
- Look for clubs that share your interests in gardening, classic cars, classical music, or whatever you enjoy when you’re not caught up in moving.
- Do some volunteer work.
- Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. (But be careful not to trash your new neighborhood, or you may find yourself moving again sooner than you think.)
- Join the PTA — even if you don’t have kids as it will get you acquainted with your community.
You’ll soon find yourself forming an opinion regarding local politics. Remember that you have no voice to comment on said politics until you’re registered to vote. In some communities, you must also vote a certain party or in at least 30 elections to graduate from the newcomer’s club. In any case, call your local Board of Elections and find out about registering to vote.
No matter where you move to, you’re probably going to have to change your driver’s license and vehicle registration. Even if you move across town, you’ll need to let the folks at BMV know where to send those speeding tickets.
If you’re using the services of a welcoming group, they can supply you with the specifics of new licenses and registration. In some areas, it’s simply a matter of sending in a check. In others, you’ll have to appear in their office and act inordinately humble as you wait in line.
The mail carrier can be your best new friend. Watch your new mailbox for coupons and discounts from nearby supermarkets and other businesses welcoming you to the area.
Now that all those boxes are unpacked and you haven’t quite yet found the shopping mall, start your search of the new place. Maps are available at chambers of commerce or real estate offices, from welcoming groups, and even at the library—if you can just find the darn place.
Today, libraries are popping up in the strangest places: shopping malls, strip malls, and residential areas. Look in the phonebook or ask a neighbor. Once found, you’ll have a treasure trove of local resources.
To get the flavor of a community and come up to speed on local issues and politics, ask a local librarian if the library throws out area newspapers older than, say, a week. If so, ask for them. Also check the back files of the newspaper at the paper’s office.