How to live like a local (and feel at home from day one)
It’s easy to feel alone, confused and even a little scared when moving to a new city. It takes a while to get the know the routines, rhythms and quirks of your adoptive home, but you’ll get there sooner than you think if you follow our tips. Here’s how to live like a local and feel at home from day one.
Bring a few home comforts with you
Make sure you’ve filled your suitcase a few items to make your new bedroom feel at home from the moment you unpack. Even simple things like your old bedding, or a candle you love, makes new home feel cozier. And decorating your walls with photographs of friends and family can make ‘home’ feel not quite so far away. A sense of belonging in your new home city starts from feeling like you belong in your new home.
Speak the language
Interact with everyone in their native tongue from day one – even if your skills are still limited. It may be a little difficult at first, but it will provide great daily practice, increasing your confidence level and honing your language skills in real situations each and every day. Because people tend to really appreciate newcomers trying to speak their language, it’ll also make people respond to you in a more positive way and make you feel like a part of the community from day one.
Master the slang
Anywhere you go, there will be colloquialisms and slang terms that you didn’t get taught in the classroom. Whether you’re nipping out for a ‘cuppa’ (cup of tea) in London, or grabbing a ‘stubby’ (small cold beer) in Sydney, listen to which terms others are using around you and adopt them into your own vocab. It’ll soon come naturally and you’ll feel – and be treated – like a local.
Do as the locals do
Does everyone in your new city cycle through the streets? Get a bike! Is the metro or tram the most popular way to get around? Get your transport card sorted ASAP, so that you can explore and commute with ease along with the other people in your new city. Nothing will make you feel more like a local than experiencing the morning rush hour with everyone else!
Dine where they dine
When looking for new places to eat, or searching for trendy cafes which will serve your steaming latte just the way you like it, watch where the locals hang out. Avoid the big chains which you could get at home and explore side streets or quieter parts of town to maximise your chances of finding a hidden gem. Tucked away from the main thoroughfares you’ll likely find locally-loved coffee shops and family-run restaurants serving hearty regional cuisine – there’s nothing more local than tucking into dishes that have fed the city for generations!
Explore and be a tourist
Don’t forget to tour the city like a visitor, too. When you first arrive, getting out the tired tourist map and exploring the city’s most iconic and famous sights will help you find your bearings. Spending a day or two visiting parks, museums, popular shopping areas or theatre districts will provide a great foundation of knowledge on your new home. Once you’re all set and know where the ‘must-see’ spots are, you can explore the city much deeper.
Know your pounds from your pesos
Money makes the world go round, so one of the first essentials on your ‘to do’ list is getting your currency and banking sorted.
Step 1: Arrive with cash in the local currency to ensure you’re not stuck in a ‘Oh, you don’t accept card?’ pickle.
Step 2: Come prepared with either a prepaid travel card or a credit card from home which allows you to make transactions or withdraw money from an ATM abroad.
Step 3: Once you have a registered address or you’ve secured a job, think about opening a local bank account in the country’s currency, to save pesky foreign currency fees on every transaction you make.
It’s equally important to know about the tipping culture in your new home: Are tips required, and if so, how much and in what situations? Remember that in the US, for example, tipping very generously is essential in almost every service situation.
Make local friends
Your neighbours or people you meet at your local cafe or at work might have been living in this city or country for their whole lives. Making the effort to make friends with locals will not only make you feel more comfortable in your new home town, it’ll also open all sorts of doors: They’ll come armed with a whole host of pro tips, secret hangout spots and local recommendations for everything from places to visit to dishes on street stalls to tuck into. By absorbing their local knowledge, you’ll too start to feel like a local in no time.
Knowing that in just a few weeks you’ll have friends or family to visit for a weekend gives you the comfort of knowing that your recent ‘goodbyes’ are very short lived. Soon you’ll be seeing them again, and this time you’ll be introducing them to all spots that you love in your new home town. Seeing the city through their fresh eyes as you act as a tour guide will help you realise just how well you’re getting to know the place and how local you’re starting to become.