9 ways to learn a new neighbourhood

Moving house can be a very disorienting experience, one that’s often made worse if you’re moving miles away from your familiar suburb where your local barista knows your daily order and your dog has a favourite digging spot at the park down the road.

The only way to overcome this is to throw yourself in head first and make the effort to fall in love with your new suburb. The aim is to feel truly at home in your new digs and the best place to start is with the surrounding streets.

Here’s some ways to uncover an urban hood and shake that newbie feeling.

Hit the footpath

There’s no better way to check out your new suburb than to strap on your walking shoes and pound the pavement. Don’t play it safe. Walk around all the back streets to discover beautiful architecture, hole in the wall cafes or a stunning river walk.

Try it on a Saturday to get a true feel for the neighbourhood. Weekends are when primary schools become second-hand markets, town halls become book fairs and local parks become outdoor yoga classes. Find the closest farmer’s market and score great food, new friends and more local knowledge. Also try cycling if you can; you can cover more distance that way. Local markets can be a great way to get to know your neighbourhood.

Ask your neighbours

When you see your fellow suburb buddies with a cardboard coffee cup or a plastic bag of takeaway containers, ask them where they got it from. They’ll probably be only too delighted to tell you it’s from the amazing Italian deli on the corner, or the Pho place from three streets over. Word of mouth recommendations are always the best, so don’t be too shy to ask for them.

Pay attention to posters

How often do you walk past telegraph poles or walls that are plastered with posters and you barely raise an eyebrow? Start paying attention to the advertisements in your local area. You could find the perfect Pilates course around the corner from your house or an underground film festival at your local bar. The poles are where it’s happening.

Know which locations you already like?

Use our Suburb Recommendation tool and we’ll match other suburbs like those to help you decide on your next move.

Shop around

Most people find the closest supermarket to their house and shop there exclusively, but a great way to get to know your neighbourhood is to mix it up. Buy your herbs from the green grocer, get your bread from the nearby bakery. Be careful not to fall into lazy habits too quickly or you might never discover the amazing antipasto at the Greek supermarket or the perfect pork sausages at the butcher down the road.

Ask your agent

It’s literally their job to sell that suburb, so pick their brains for information. Agents are likely to live locally or at least spend a large percentage of time in the areas they sell for. They’ll know the best places to get brunch, have a business shirt dry cleaned and which park is the best for a Sunday afternoon picnic with family and friends.

In short, act like a tourist until you feel like a local

Give it a go

Make a rule that when you eat out, you aren’t allowed to eat at the same place twice for a while. Try a different cuisine on a regular basis and you’re certain to discover new tastes, sights and services. Make a different rule to try a new thing once a week (or once a month if you’re too busy). Check those posters for ideas. Try lots of different places to eat or drink.

Scope out the essentials

Find your closest hospital, doctor, police station, vet and 24-hour chemist. There’s something comforting and homely about knowing where to go if you need midnight cold and flu relief or a place to take your sick pet. You may never use the dentist that’s right across the road but knowing that it’s there will make you feel right at home.

Follow the crowd

If I’m in a foreign place and there’s a crowd moving towards something, I’ll follow to see what’s going on. I found a night flower market in Paris doing this as well as a swing band performance in Melbourne. Note: If the crowd is all dressed the same just be warned that you may end up at a football game with teams you don’t follow or a Cosplay convention.

Hit online reviews

Tap the tribal mind and hit up places like Zomato, Yelp or Foursquare for reviews and recommendations in your area. You can download the apps on your smartphone and browse for points of interest within a desired distance from your new place.

In short, act like a tourist until you feel like a local. Spend your weekends sight seeing and googling events in the local area. Attend all the gatherings – street parties, markets, fetes – and commit to making your new suburb your home, rather than a place where your property just happens to be.

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