How To Settle Into A City (Part Two: Domestic)

My old house in Mt Eden.

This is part two of How To Settle Into A City — the first part is here & focusses more on the social aspects of moving to a new city.

While it’s all very well & good to have a raging social life (or to get preoccupied trying to create one), this will mean very little if your home life is hell.

Here are some things to consider…

Choose good roommates
One thing that will make the transition into your new life easier is picking decent people to live with. Living alone or with your lover can be blissful, but sharing a space with anyone who is dirty, noisy, dishonest or just plain inconsiderate has the possibility to pretty much ruin your domestic life. This is to be avoided at all costs! Some people like to live with friendly outgoing types, while others prefer people who are pretty much invisible. I am in the latter camp. My ex-boyfriend & I rejoiced when we discovered that our newest flatmate, a Samoan lawyer, paid bills on time & was never ever ever home. However, I am aware that a lot of people like to kind of move into a social group. When you go to look at a place, you will pretty quickly pick up the “vibe” of the house — some houses exist to party while others are more professional. Decide what you’re going to be happier with & think about how you operate: if you’re in town to study, a party house might not actually be what you want.

My empty apartment in Auckland.

Unpack as soon as possible
Living amongst boxes is depressing! Start ripping those suckers open.

Surround yourself with familiar things
When you’ve moved into your place, do your best to make yourself comfortable. Everyone has a different idea of what will fill this criteria for them — when I moved into my place in Melbourne, I didn’t have power for days (the romance wore off quickly) but I did have my Macbook, meaning I had music! Yay! I charged it up in the hallway, haha, & I was also able to pilfer a wireless internet connection from my neighbours. If I had been without my computer I would probably have gone mad. You, on the other hand, might feel completely at home as soon as you hang your Amelie poster or put your perfume bottle collection in the bathroom — so, whatever it is that’s going to make you feel good, do it.

Stock your kitchen
Having good food around to eat whenever you please is going to make you feel so much better! It’s also much cheaper to snack at home than going out to buy stuff all the time… & it’s fairly widely acknowledged that moving to a new city is an expensive endeavour, so you’ll need all the coin you can get. Obviously it’s good to explore your neighbourhood & check out all the local cafes, but sometimes you won’t want to pay $8 for a sandwich!

Decorate your new abode as much as possible
Having somewhere to sit & sleep is important, it will help keep you sane. This doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise — you can kit out an entire house for a pittance at Ikea or by careful shopping at markets & secondhand stores. You’ll also get some really distinctive pieces this way. Remember, nothing needs to be perfect — you can always repaint or reupholster it later if need be, or when you get sick of it, you can resell it & buy something nicer.

Get a post office box
If you’ve just arrived in town & suspect that you’ll be moving around a lot before you settle, renting a post office box is a really good option. They’re great if you buy a lot of stuff on Ebay (ahem) or if you don’t trust your neighbours. When I moved to Auckland, our apartment’s mailbox would regularly have its door bent backwards & then people would steal the mail! How stupid is that?!

A lot of the time, when you move to a new city, you will be expected to engage in time-wasting administrative tasks. If you’re moving into an apartment with other people, some of these tedious things may already be organised. (You should celebrate if so.) If not, you may find that your new life is exhilarating but also tiring & stressful. If you can work some exercise into your week, you will feel much better for it. Sign up for a yoga class close to home — yoga is great for relaxation & you might make some flexible friends.

Get plenty of sleep
Allow yourself to sleep as much as you need to. I’m yawning just thinking about it!

Extra For Experts:
There’s a really good pdf I found called “Property Quest: A Guide For First Time Renters“, which covers all the basic things such as working out your budget, navigating rental agreements & what to look for when you’re thinking about renting a place. Keep in mind that it is only an overview, & property laws are different from country country — do some Googling for local information if there’s anything you’re unclear on.