Moving to a different area: a small town, a new suburb, or a large city can be an intimidating proposition. Here are a few tips to help make your move as painless as possible.

Research before you move. It’s important to understand the culture you’re joining. Do research online and find out about school systems, neighborhoods, parking, weather, public transportation, and laws that are native to that area. If you can, visit a city before moving and connect with someone who’s lived there before. A professional realtor is a good source of community information and can usually put you in touch with other resources to help.

Have a plan. There are a lot of steps to go through before you start packing the moving truck. Find housing before you leave, or at least know where you’ll stay while you look for a home. Never sign a lease on an apartment that you haven’t seen. If you can’t get there, find a friend or an employer to check for you. Have a job waiting for you, or if that’s not possible, know what you’ll do for money in the first few months of living there. Try to line up things like driver’s licenses, car insurance, renter’s insurance, and parking passes ahead of time as well.

Get involved. Meeting people in a new location can be daunting. Don’t expect the neighbors to knock your door down with a casserole when you arrive: most people today live busy and hectic lives. Take the initiative. If there are things you liked to do in your town, find ways to do those things in your new location. Try new things. Volunteer. Communities offer many opportunities to engage other people, so find what you like.

Be enthusiastic. Although relocating can initially seem intimidating, it can also be exciting. Be enthusiastic in your approach and people will return your enthusiasm in talking about their community and helping you feel welcome. Again, your Realtor can be a great resource for information and introducing you to people or organizations that share your interests!

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