When I think about my Top Ten Least Favorite Things To Do, moving would make the list somewhere between “colonoscopy” and “ironing.” If ever there was motivator for simple living, it’s the act of packing up ALL of your things and then unpacking all of your things.

I’ve moved twice in the past ten years with an additional year-long jaunt in Germany, and through that process I’ve seen the result of decades of accumulation.

I’m not a hoarder, but there is little doubt I have more than I need.

I’ve just celebrated a year in a new place (though I still have one foot in the other), and I thought it might be helpful to offer a few suggestions for meaningfully connecting to a new area.

1. Find a great realtor.

Because we wanted to learn our new hometown well before making an investment in a home, we started out by renting. The previous time we moved, we bought quickly. While that turned out fine, we hadn’t understood the downsides to the neighborhood we choose. We knew there was a better way.

There are a lot of realtors out there and sometimes it’s challenging to find a good one. In our case, a referral came by way of my husband’s work–we were bound by restrictions in a corporate relocation package. We happened to luck out with a fantastic realtor this time around, but I stumbled onto a wonderful way to vet potential realtors if your company doesn’t provide relocation benefits: the Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) network in your area.  When you don’t know a soul in town, they’re able to connect you with a real estate professional you can trust (and they can also provide sound recommendations for Investing, Insurance, Health Insurance and Tax Services).

2. Bloom where you’re planted

A few suggestions:

  • Volunteer. Whether in your children’s classrooms, church, or local sports programs, organizations are always in need of extra hands.
  • If you work full-time, network. Join one of those civic groups that do good for your community. Attend your local Chamber of Commerce events. Don’t limit yourself to co-workers but connect with others outside your 9-5 doors.
  • If you’re an at-home mom or work virtually, network. Find a meaningful part-time job. Work with an organization whose mission aligns with your passions (think Race for the Cure, Salvation Army Bell Ringers, etc.).
  • Join a Bible study. A complete stranger invited me to a Bible study she leads (at a church I had no plans to attend) and I took her up on the offer because a) I didn’t know anyone, b) I had the time. Well. I still don’t go to that church but a year later, I’ve just begun my second study there. I love discussing hard faith concepts with those who might have a different perspective, but this has also given me a small group of women I’ve gotten to know who can refer me to local doctors, dentists, dry cleaners, home repairmen and so much more.

3.  Read the local newspaper

While you can read online, I’l go one step further to suggest subscribing at least for six months. There’s little else that will more quickly bring you up to speed with local politics, community events, and what’s important in your area. Paper copies might also engage your children (comics, crossword, jumble) and seed an interest in something beyond People Magazine or Entertainment Tonight.  Plus, if you’re a couponer, you can easily pay for your subscription with Sunday savings.

4.  Limit your time online

It’s human nature to follow the path of least resistance, but that’s not always the best.  In an era when we can remain virtually connected regardless of where we live, it’s tempting to fall back on Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and/or [fill in your favorite] to fulfill your social needs. Be careful. If you’re only looking back at what you had, you’ll never be able to look forward and see the potential of your future.

For those of you with experience in starting over, share your ideas and recommendations for assuring a smoother transition. Or, if you find yourself in a new place and you’re struggling, let me know? Let’s think through this together and figure out simple ways to help you grow roots right where you are.