10 Ways to Make a New Community Feel Like Home

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COMMUNITY IMMERSION 101


Each year, millions of people move to a new community. And summer, when the weather is nice and life generally slows down, is prime time to get involved. While immersing yourself in new surroundings may not trump unpacking and setting up your home, there are reasons to make it a priority. Community ties help ease the transition from old to new, and getting to know the neighbors could bring ongoing benefits. Here are 10 ways to become acclimated without spending much money.

Related: 7 Tips for Moving on the Cheap
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JOIN THE LOCAL FACEBOOK GROUP

Social media can facilitate community ties. See if your neighborhood maintains a Facebook group -- or even a few. Local buy/sell/trade groups are excellent venues for making friends and shedding stuff you packed and moved but probably won't use again. Homeowners associations often host Facebook groups and the school district may run a group for parents.
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VOLUNTEER

Volunteering is often a no-cost and satisfying way to meet like-minded individuals. For some communities, VolunteerMatch pinpoints local opportunities. Alternatively, ask social media groups about volunteer openings. There is bound to be someone who can point you in the right direction.
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OFFER A SERVICE

Perhaps you have a hobby that can be used to help others or a side job the neighbors might like to know about. Put it out there. If you love animals, for example, offer your services as a dog walker or pet sitter. Again, Facebook groups are an easy way to market your expertise.
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HELP THE NEIGHBORS

What goes around comes around. In this instance, what you get out of your new community depends on what you put into it -- and that starts with those in closest proximity. Ways to help include mowing an elderly neighbor's lawn, baking a treat for the new parents down the street, shoveling snow for the busy family next door, or bringing the trash bin out to the street for neighbors who are out of town. These are little things, but they won't go unnoticed.
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ATTEND A LOCAL MEETING

If you moved into a neighborhood with a homeowners association or something similar, be sure to attend a meeting and get some face time with the leaders. If you have school-age children, attend PTA meetings and sign up for a committee. In no time you'll find yourself with new friends without having spent a dime.
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USE A NEIGHBORHOOD APP

Nextdoor is a free website that helps people stay informed about their neighborhood. Enter the relevant information to identify nearby users and follow and take part in neighborhood discussions. Download the app for free to stay in the know on the go.
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TAKE A CLASS

Like volunteering, taking a class that aligns with your interests facilitates introductions to like-minded people. Check out fitness classes such as yoga or Zumba, or try something creative, such as a pottery class. Start with the local recreation center, where classes typically are cheaper and sometimes discounted for area residents.
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EXPLORE

One fun part about moving to a new place is finding new things to enjoy. Set aside unpacking for a day and head out on foot. Walk the neighborhood, hit up a casual restaurant or coffee shop, browse the stores, and chat with local business owners.
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BE FRIENDLY

This is so basic that it's easy to forget: Smile and wave to people passing on the street, or strike up a conversation while in line at the grocery store. Before long you'll be seeing familiar faces wherever you go and become a familiar face to those around you.
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ATTEND COMMUNITY EVENTS

Attending free events hosted by your community -- the annual chili cook-off, a movie or concert in the park, a church festival, a local fair, a craft show, or whatever -- is an easy and inexpensive way to get out and meet people. Check postings at the local recreation center, on Facebook groups, and on the Nextdoor website. The local government website generally posts notices about community happenings.