The Other Moving Checklist: What Do You Find First In Your New 'Hood?

The Other Moving Checklist: What Do You Find First In Your New 'Hood?

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Tess Wilson
Oct 20, 2014
(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

Most moving-in checklists are full of practical items for your new home like lightbulbs and cleaning supplies, but today let's discuss the things you need to feel settled in a new place. Things like thrift shops, Mexican grocery stores, and pizza delivery.

I moved to small-town Illinois from San Francisco 16 months ago, and to rural Illinois two months ago. Let's see how I'm doing:

Thrift Store: Absolutely crucial. Every time I've moved, thrift stores absolutely saved me. I bought all of the home goods I couldn't fit in the suitcase/car/trailer, I bought cheap clothes for interviews/new jobs, I bought 25¢ magazines when that was the only entertainment I could afford, and sometimes I was even able to score boring necessities like brooms and cleaning supplies.
Found? Check! There is an absolutely amazing warehouse-size thrift store about 25 miles from my new house. That is quite a long way to go (and lots of expensive gas to burn to get there), but totally worth it if combined with other errands. All of the money goes to charity, all of the workers are volunteers, and the prices are cheap. I scored a poofy coat for me and thermal shirts for my partner to help us survive another Polar Vortex.

Restaurant (Bonus Points for Delivery): I love to cook, but even if I was thrilled to cook 364 days out of the year, there will always be that day when you Simply Can't. You're too sick, too sad, too exhausted, too whatever, and the greatest thing in the world is to be able to buy a meal made out of groceries you didn't have to buy that doesn't yield any dishes you have to wash.
Found? Check! It's crazy, but I live in the middle of nowhere, yet there is a place that makes excellent vegan pizza less than 10 miles from my new home. And they deliver. It's magical and wondrous and just knowing it's available makes me miss the city life less.

International Grocery Store: These are my favorite anytime, but they're especially helpful when I've just moved. Indian, Mexican, Italian, and Middle Eastern grocery stores have always proven themselves to be chock full of affordable, vegan-friendly ingredients. If the "regular" grocery stores around you are boring/limited, they are crucial for acquiring interesting spices, beans, grains, flours, and more.
Found? Check! It's, again, at least 25 miles from my house, but there's a great Mexican grocery store in the town where I work. I go there regularly for beans, locally-ish made tortillas, the cheapest limes around, the only decent avocados around, Tamarzula hot sauce, spices at 1/4 the cost of grocery store prices, masa, and more. My cooking and my life would be a lot more boring if it wasn't for this resource.

Backup Wi-Fi: No matter how fast and expensive your internet is, there's always a chance of something going wrong— and it can take awhile for it to get set up in the first place (cough, cough). If you're job searching in a new place, having access to the internet right away is totally necessary. Whether you're a freelancer who depends on wifi for work or just a human in the modern world, having a backup plan lets you rest easy.
Found? Check. No exclamation point, because the closest source of wifi is the public library approximately 25 miles away. You may have noticed that I appear to live 25 miles from anything— this is accurate. So yes, I have a backup plan that I've been dependent on these last few months, but it is a long way to drive and libraries aren't open 'round-the-clock. It's no stroll down the street to a cafe, is what I'm saying.

A Way to Work Out: Whether it's setting up your DVD player for kickboxing videos, figuring out a safe biking or running route, finding the nearest public pool, buying a cheap set of dumbbells at the thrift store, or trying out a new gym, having access to exercise is crucial to me. After a move, when everything can be stressful and up-in-the-air, it's incredibly calming to pick up something heavy, put it back down, and repeat.
Found? Check! I was given the absolutely incredible gift of a gym membership, and it has kept me sane this last year. It's— you guessed it!— 25 miles away, so I only work out when I'm already going into town for work. The roads here are too fast (60+ MPH) to bike comfortably on, but I hear there are great paths through the woods and prairies. I was also given an awesome stack of workout DVDs, which will help immensely when winter traps me in the house.

Friends/Friend-Making Venue: In order to make friends, you need to be places where there are other humans, ideally other humans that like at least one thing that you like, right? I'm a little rusty. This means that when you move, it's important to do something or go somewhere that might attract people that you might like. Finding those places, activities, and people is challenging, especially when you're on a just-moved, still-job-hunting budget.
Found? Sadly, No Check For Me. I really like the people I work with at the library, but so far no outside-of-work friendships have developed (not too shocking due to generational differences). I'd like to join a kick-boxing class in the same town that has the amazing thrift store, there are ceramics classes offered sporadically in the town where I work, and a bar I like hosts trivia nights... but all of these things cost money, plus lots of gas to get to them in the first place. They also cost time, which I haven't had during the renovation, so I'm optimistic that my newly-found free time will soon be spent with at least one suitable human.

What's on your list of essential resources when you find yourself in a new place? And if you just moved, how did you score, either on my list or yours?

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