You've unpacked all of the cardboard boxes and put them out to recycle. Your favorite wedding photo is sitting on the mantle above the fireplace. You've stocked the kitchen with your favorite spices. Your dishes are neatly stacked in cabinets above the sink. But somehow, the two of you still feel unsettled. Even though everything is where it should be, you feel like nothing is in place.
You've found out the hard way that settling into a new place is much more than unpacking. It's feeling at home, knowing your neighbors, having friends to invite over for dinner, knowing who you can trust at work. If you have children, then it's knowing other families who have children the same age as yours. Of course, all of these things take time. But there are ways to speed things along so that you can feel settled as soon as possible.
The Spice Rack
When you first move in, take the time to completely unpack and set up your bedroom. Then you will have a room where you can retreat from the mess and really feel at home!
Don't wait for your neighbors to introduce themselves to you. People are busy. Just because they haven't invited you over doesn't mean that they don't want to meet the two of you. It's okay to make the first move.
If you don't know many people in town, you can't sit around waiting for people to welcome you. Be direct. Give yourselves a welcoming party! Invite everyone on your block or in your apartment building. Keep it simple. Put Xeroxed, handwritten invitations in people's mailboxes. Have it in the afternoon with drinks and chips. No one will expect you to serve a feast. In fact, they will be impressed that you did it at all. You'll at least briefly meet your neighbors (at least the ones interested in meeting you). And people who can't make it to the party may stop by and say hello.
You will have accomplished so much with relatively little effort. Rather than wait for a chance meeting with all of these people, you will have told them a lot of things all at once—that the two of you are new in town, that you are friendly, that you are interested in your neighbors, and that you welcome a future relationship.
It's Party Time
Linda and Paul moved into their new house and felt frustrated that they had only met one of their neighbors. They wanted to feel like part of the neighborhood. They had two children, aged six and nine. It was summer and school hadn't started, so their kids hadn't made new friends yet, either.
They decided they would invite everyone on their block over for a Sunday open house. They put invitations on everyone's doorstep. Linda and Paul kept things simple. They went to the grocery store and bought chips, dips, and cut-up vegetables. They bought several types of cheese, cut them in small blocks, and put them out with crackers. They used paper plates and cups, and plastic utensils. That Sunday they were very nervous and were wondering if they had done the right thing. When the first person rang the doorbell, they were immediately relieved. The family introduced themselves and apologized for not meeting them sooner. They commented that they had been very busy this summer and had been out of town a lot. They were very glad to have a family on the block, and even had a child who was nine years old who would be going to the same school as Linda and Paul's nine-year-old.
By the time the day was over, they had met people from over half of the homes on their block. Several of them had children close to the ages of their own. Their kids were immediately happier and had friends to play with for the rest of the summer. Their neighbors now invited them to dinner and were interested in getting to know them better. By taking the initiative, Linda and Paul made a huge step to feeling more at home. By making a small investment in time and money, they integrated themselves into their new neighborhood.