Moving to a new city, whether it’s just around the corner from where you were before or 3,000 miles away, is one of the most exciting and overwhelming things you can do. There’s a multitude of things to consider, from logistical planning and getting settled in, to meeting new people and finding out which corner store makes the best breakfast sandwich.
This can be a stressful time, so we put together this checklist of eight things to do when you move to a new city to help you get acclimated.
1. Get the scoop on cable & internet
One of the first things you’ll want to make sure to accomplish is getting your internet set up. You may be restricted to a certain provider mandated by the apartment you move into, or your area may only have one provider. In these cases, your decision will be quite easy. If this isn’t the case, though, check out your options on review sites like Yelp or ask your neighbors or coworkers which provider they use and what they like/don't like about it.
If you haven’t “cut the cord” yet, you may want to get cable from the same provider you’re using for internet, as you could get a discount for bundling services. Just make sure you comparison shop, as those bundled deals may not always be the best value. (Here are some tips on how to save thousands by negotiating your utility bills.)
Pro tip: Plan to have your cable and internet set up toward the beginning of your move, on a day when you’ll likely be spending the whole day at home building and setting up furniture. That way, you won’t have to take off from work or worry about waiting around at home during the entirety of a large, and often expanding, window of time.
2. Plan your commute
If you’ve already got a job lined up, it’s likely that you took this into consideration when looking for a new place to live. Whether you’re within walking distance to work or have to take two buses and a cable car to get there, having a dry run before you start is extremely helpful.
Planning and practicing your commute will allow you to get to know the transportation system a little better (or, if you’re driving, what the roads are like) and will also give you an idea of how long you’ll need to get to work each morning. You’ll definitely want to know this before it’s your first day and you find yourself running 20 minutes late.
Pro tip: There are some apps that can help you navigate some of the bigger transportation systems, like these for the New York City subway.
3. Duplicate your keys
It’s always a best practice to have multiple sets of keys to your place, especially if you live alone. Ideally, having three sets of keys is the way to go — one to be your primary set, one given to a trusted friend or neighbor and the third to be the backup backup, just in case.
The last thing you’ll want is to have to pay a locksmith $150 at 7 a.m. to come let you in because the only key you’ve got is inside and you thought you left the door unlocked when you left to take out the garbage.
4. Meet the neighbors
Whether you live in a large high rise with hundreds of units, a small walk-up with four other couples or a bustling neighborhood, it’s always worth a shot to be friendly with those living in closest proximity to you. The good news is your neighbors are likely to be curious about you as well, and you might even run into them during the course of your move-in. These will be the people who hold onto your spare key (see above), lend you a cup of sugar (hey, it happens!) or, if you’re really lucky, invite you over when they’ve baked too much apple pie.
5. Find out about parking
If you’re moving somewhere that only has street parking, you'll want to make note of any parking regulations so you know the times each week when you’ll be required to move your car and can plan accordingly.
It’s also worth it to get some intel about how parking works around the city. In San Francisco, for example, there are many parking lots and metered parking areas that have quite a few free hours during the week.
6. Scope out the grocery stores
If you’re anything like me, food is at the top of your priority list. The grocery store is likely to become one of your most frequently visited destinations, so it’s important to figure out which one you’ll be patronizing.
Personally, I have a few “regular” supermarkets that I visit, depending on what I need:
- The local market with the friendly cashiers that has pretty much everything
- The bigger chain for budget-friendly bulk or party purchases
- The deli on the corner to hit up for the basics in a pinch
7. Join a social group
The number of renters in the U.S. is at an all-time high, and the majority of these renters are living in busy cities. Because of that, there are endless opportunities to branch out and meet new people.
Join a meetup group, kickball team or professional or college alumni organization to get the ball rolling on building out your new social circle.
8. Insure your stuff
Although it’s last on the list, this is one of the most important ones. One of the biggest mistakes renters make is passing on renters insurance, thinking that they won’t ever need it. And guess what? You might not. But if you do, you’ll be happier you’ve been paying a very small fee for this essential every month than if you ignored it altogether. (You can read more about what you should look for in a policy here.)