How to Fit Into City Life when Moving from a Small Town

Four Parts:Research the AreaExplore with MapsSet a BudgetGet Out There and Interact

Moving into a city, especially one with a substantial metropolitan population, tends to have a huge impact on one's life when coming from a small town, the country, or an island with a small population. Taking baby steps is the key thing to do when easing yourself into big city life.

Part 1
Research the Area

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    Build a culture list. List all possibilities of a city that it might have, such as transportation, education, city halls, libraries, parking, etc. By creating a list, you can have a written guide with which to start exploring your new territory.
    • Use guidebooks written for travelers. These are handy for new arrivals moving into a city as they are for tourists.
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    Research any local laws. It's essential to understand the local city laws or have an idea of them when first arriving.
    • If you drive, you must be aware of all laws pertaining to driving, including how to handle emergency vehicles, snow emergencies and bans, and parking meter time limits. Also understand road markings, signs and simple but important things such as merging and giving way to vehicles in particular situations (for example, where there are cable cars involved).
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    Prepare for the weather. The further your move is, the more different of a climate and weather change you will need to expect. Moreover, large cities tend to create their own micro-climates and this can be disconcerting at first, until you learn to cope with additional heat from so much concrete, extra humidity, icy sidewalks or windy corridors caused by tall buildings and grid streets. Another thing that sometimes comes as a surprise is how cold shade thrown from tall buildings can make a street feel, especially in the mornings.
    • Jot down and learn the average temperatures for January and July. January is usually the coldest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and hottest in the Southern Hemisphere, while July is the complete opposite (hottest in the Northern Hemisphere and coldest in the Southern Hemisphere).
    • Plan on changing your wardrobe in order to adjust to your new location, depending on the seasons. Many places around the tropics do not experience the same seasons and weather patterns as those areas closer to the North and South polar regions.
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    Construct a map of important places. You might want to start with city hall, grocery stores, banks, the DMV/RMV (Department or Registry of Motor Vehicles), the closest school, police station, and gas station.
    • There are plenty of apps available to help you locate good eating establishments and places of entertainment, so download a reputable one to assist you.

Part 2
Explore with Maps

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    Prepare for a different lifestyle. Many cities does not have the same environment as towns and counties. Accept the reality that you may not be able to do the same activities or see the same sights in the city.
    • Everything can take longer in a city, such as traveling from A to B, waiting for service, getting help from tradespersons, etc. Be prepared to wait!
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    Review different kinds of maps. Purchase one with detailed information, such as street inserts and public transportation routes.
    • If you have a smartphone or similar portable electronic device, many maps can be easily downloaded, often for free. There are also many programs available that allow you to draw on digital maps, to make notes, etc.
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    Navigate the most direct routes. The most direct and fastest routes are typically the easiest to learn when moving into a new city.
    • After time and getting routes down, you can then determine if side streets or other highways are better or worse for you.
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    Familiarize yourself with the locations of attractions. From small playgrounds to the zoo, every city has locations that small towns and rural areas wouldn't or have a lack of.

Part 3
Set a Budget

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    Establish a new budget. City life is usually more expensive than town and country prices. Even the smallest things can really add up. There are often things you'd get for free in smaller towns that cost money in the city, including parking, a glass of water/bread with your meal or certain kinds of household rates. You'll need to account for all these extras as part of your budgeting.
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    Brainstorm on your needs versus wants. Write out your list in two columns and then break each one down, if needed.
    • Food, gas, electricity, rent/mortgage, and heat may be the most essential needs to put down. Social activities, attractions, household items, and internet would probably be considered as wants.
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    Compare different companies before signing up for services. Research on the variety of electric, internet, and phone based companies in the area. Always calculate if bundle packages are cheaper than getting single items.
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    Organize your methods of grocery shopping. Find a supermarket near your home and see if it offers free or cheap delivery or whether you'll need to self-deliver. For fresh food, scout farmers markets in the city. Many farmers markets have cheaper produce than supermarkets, however, depending on the city, they may also be seasonal and not always open.
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    Take advantage of any discounts. While attraction discounts would be more fit for families, any individual can enjoy discounts to restaurants, bars, and other new discoveries in the city. Look for discounts online (company websites, special offer sites, etc.) and through tourist brochures, etc. Use coupons when shopping for food.

Part 4
Get Out There and Interact

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    Schedule your time. Allow yourself to naturally take everything around you in. Transferring into a bigger environment is only overwhelming if one believes it is.
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    Increase your social skills. Use any downtime to get to know your neighbors, whether you are in an apartment, townhouse, or neighborhood. Not only will this help to decrease any feeling of loneliness, these people can be a source of support and help if you have problems. In return, be ready to help them too.
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    Participate in social clubs. Motivate yourself to sign up with events that will increase your social being and interactions with others in the city. Whether it is volunteering for a clean-up organization, donation drive, or sports, there's a long list of activities one can do.
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    Experience the nightlife. Each city has its own unique take when the sun goes down and the lights turn on. Even if you work in the middle of the city, it's truly a different approach between day and night. Ask the locals for tips and also ask them about where it's safe to go at night, just to be sure.
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    Motivate yourself to try new food. Adjust your budget in allowing yourself to go out at least once a week and try out a new restaurant or drink that you have not tried before.
    • Many restaurants nowadays experiment with fusion cuisine, meaning combining two region cuisines together, such as Japanese and American.
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    Keep some cash on you. You may never know if you need extra pocket change for a last minute parking meter, take out drive-thru, public transportation, tolls, etc.
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    Connect with others on social networking sites. Build "mutual interests" with people around your area on Twitter. A lot of companies, including police departments, local businesses, and city councils are interacting and networking with residents and fans nowadays. And use sites like Meet Up to connect with local people in your area who have interests similar to your own, such as cycling, overcoming anxiety, raising children, building computers, whatever!


  • Never reveal any money to the public. If you are pulling money out of an ATM (automated teller machine), use your body as a shield and place your money in your wallet when you are still at the machine. Don't put your money in your wallet while walking.
  • Avoid money beggars. You may never know if they really need money or not, as some of them are "professional" panhandlers. If you want to help those in need, always think of donating to an official organization that assists in such situations.
  • Always secure your personal belongings. Never take anything out of your house that you do not need. Securing your vehicle is also very important; hide all items out of plain sight underneath your seats and lock all doors.

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