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Next up: Connecting With Your New Neighbourhood, family-style.
Finding your way in a new neighbourhood can be challenging – especially when you have kids, and you just need to get on with life. While you are preparing to make a move, don’t underestimate the power of getting to know your neighbourhood before you get there.
From online research to afternoons spent wandering around, to getting out in the first few days, you’ll find that the sooner you have your go-to spots, the sooner the whole family will feel at home.
Where To Play
This one is just as important for families with little kids as it is for big kids. For the littles, your local parks, playgrounds, walking paths and trails are essential. You can find them on Google, but you’re better to go and see them yourselves. Try out the swings. Check just how “kid friendly” the trails are, based on your own experience. It might be that the closest playground isn’t the best for your kids at this stage. You’ll also want to check out the local pools, splash pads and wading areas.
For big kids, you’ll want to find the outdoor spaces like rinks, fields, paths, trails and pools. But don’t forget movie theatres, climbing gyms, hang out spots for tweens, bowling allies and gyms that have youth memberships. You might also want to see where people go for laser tag and other group activities.
Where To Eat
Family friendly food choices are critical whether you have a pack of picky eaters or you’ve got adventurous types under your roof. Getting to know your go-to spots will make your neighbourhood feel more like home in a jiffy (and will spare you from the family-sized edition of “I don’t know, what do YOU want to eat”).
You can also get to know which places fit your budget and where what you want to try on the nights when your kids are home with a sitter and a pizza.
Where To Find All The Things
When you’re sussing out the neighbourhood, make sure you look beyond all the cool things you haven’t seen before to find all the boring life stuff you’re going to need. You’ll want to figure out where your nearest bank is quick. Things like where you’ll get your groceries during your weekly shop and where you’ll go for the one-offs is important. So are things like the library, dry cleaners, post office and pharmacy. There are a few other important things to add to your list if your kids are small – where to buy last-minute birthday presents, ice cream, balloons and supplies for school projects.
These ones are fun. These are the things you won’t know about your neighbourhood until you move in – and potentially until after someone has told you about them. There will be secret passageways, fantastic coffee shops, tiny little hole-in-the-wall spots you wouldn’t even see, and camps or courses that EVERYONE knows are the best.
Ask your neighbours, shopkeepers, school contacts and any other parents you meet to point them out for you. You can also join your neighbourhood Facebook group and ask for everyone’s recommendation on the things only “insiders” know.
This is a close cousin to the hidden gems. There may be some pretty cool things tucked away in your neighbourhood that will get your kids excited about the natural world. Perhaps there’s a ravine that has an entrance tucked away down a little street or a community garden hidden down a laneway. Once again, these are things that would be hard to find on Google. You need to find your most outdoorsy neighbour and ask them where you can take the kids. Use words like exploring, geocaching or adventuring with the kids to get them even more excited about seeing what discoveries await.
Lessons, Classes and More
When you move to a new neighbourhood, you unlock a whole new series of lessons, classes, groups and activities that are available to your kids (and to you). Dance, arts, academics, sports, hobbies, coding and more may all be available in your new neighbourhood – all in different formats and at different price points.
For instance, there might be group music classes that make more sense than private lessons for your little, or in contrast, there may be small coding classes for your robotics genius that will be way better than the large group drop in that was near your last home. And, your school may offer activities that you had to find through outside sources before. Score!
A move is a great time to take stock of your child’s interests and aptitudes and use that focus to get into new extra-curricular activities in the neighbourhood. At that point, you can also decide if there are some in your previous ‘hood that are worth travelling to every Saturday AM.