How to Spend Your First Week in a New City
My name is Jess, and I’m a digital nomad who has been traveling the U.S. for six months. This lifestyle can be a bit crazy and unpredictable, but I can always follow a comforting routine for my first week in a new city to help me get acclimated to my new surroundings.
I just landed in Austin, Texas, and here are my recommendations for how to settle in:
The first thing I do when I move to a new city is unpack everything and get settled into my new home. I know this is a given, but unpacking right away is so important to feeling grounded and comfortable in a new space.
Luckily, I’m staying in one of Landing’s furnished apartments, which means I don’t have too much to unpack since I only travel with what I can fit in my car.
I quickly put away all my dry food, my ever-growing piles of clothes, and my other random “essentials,” like candles and books. Then, I take my time decorating my apartment with the handful of photos I brought with me and adorn my fridge with all the ridiculous magnets I’ve collected over the years.
I’m also a weirdo and brought 10 plants with me on the road, so I spend plenty of time finding just the right spot for each and every one of them—a windowsill, a dresser, and a side table.
My cat, Blink, has his own little travel bag full of his favorite toys. As long as he has that, he’s happy. It’s all these little things that make every apartment feel like home, even when it’s only a temporary stay.
Take time to reset
For me, this means catching up on sleep and spending time enjoying my own company. I’ll order takeout from a local restaurant, put on some “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” and allow myself to not feel guilty for using this time to reset. Taking a breather between moves allows me to come back to myself so that I can dive full force into the next new city.
After a few days of some much-needed R&R, it’s time for me to get oriented with my new city. I take time to explore my neighborhood and get familiar with my internal compass: Which way is downtown? Which way is the grocery store? Where is the nearest hospital and vet clinic? And, most importantly, where are all the breweries?
I get intimidated driving in new areas, so I prefer walking around my neighborhood to get oriented. It helps me experience my new home on such a more intimate level and lets me see things I could have easily missed if I were to drive by with my music blaring.
When I first got to Austin, I walked down a busy street just a few blocks away from my house. I wound up finding a really cool comic book store, a cute gift shop (where I immediately bought a Texas top), and the greatest grocery store I’ve ever been to, Central Market.
No offense, Whole Foods, but Central Market is out of this world. The produce section goes on for days with bushels of fresh apples and mushrooms and towers of organic broccoli and cauliflower. The bakery is overflowing with picture-perfect loaves of sourdough and ciabatta that would make an Italian grandmother proud. And the cheese section is bigger than my apartment. Needless to say, I quickly found out where I would be doing my grocery shopping.
Find my new ‘office’
As a digital nomad, my office is wherever I make it. Sometimes that’s at the desk of my apartment with Blink curled up on my lap. Other times, I work from a coffee shop or a library.
So, as I settle into a new city, it’s important for me to find coffee shops and libraries where I can work comfortably. This takes some time, but I branch out every other day to find a new spot until I find my “regulars.” These are usually a short walk or drive from my apartment and offer free Wi-Fi, a quiet space, and judgment-free vibes.
I’ve been lucky to find several great coffee shops around me in Austin, including Merit Coffee Co., Epoch Coffee, and Bennu Coffee (which is open 24/7!). My favorite library to work from is the Central Austin Public Library. Not only is it a quiet spot with a great view, but it also has a roof garden and a cafe. Library goals!
Want to try out living somewhere new? Check out our blog, “The Best U.S. Cities for Digital Nomads.”
Make new friends
When I move to a new city, I often don’t know anyone who lives there. Scary, right? However, it’s not as bad as you may think!
Even though I’m a bit of an introvert and enjoy time to myself, I still manage to make friends in every city I visit.
Facebook has been a great way to meet like-minded people. I’ve joined several Facebook groups, including ones for my favorite podcasts and movies, ones for other Austin newcomers, and Landing’s new Facebook group for other Landing members.
When I first move to a new city, I’ll do a roll call to see if anyone else is in that city. There’s usually a few of us, so we’ll usually meet up together and grab a drink. It’s easy to chat when you already have something in common, like traveling, city life, or sense of humor.
Another great way to make friends in a new city is by asking your network of friends and family whether they know anyone who lives in your city. Chances are, you know someone who has a cousin whose boyfriend’s sister also lives in Austin. It’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s an easy way to meet someone through mutual friends.
I’ve also just made friends by chatting with the person next to me at the bar or the car dealership. Believe it or not, most people are actually pretty friendly and welcoming when I tell them I’m new to their city. They often recommend fun things to see and do, and if we hit it off, we’ll sometimes wind up doing their recommendations together.
Okay, so at this point, I’m rejuvenated, I have a better sense of my surroundings, and I’ve started making new friends. Now it’s time to start exploring the city and going on as many adventures as possible!
I recommend going on a few tours when you first move somewhere new. It might sound kind of touristy because, well, it is.
When I first settled in Austin, I went on a ghost tour, a duck boat tour, and a kayak tour. These tours helped me learn more about the city from a local’s perspective and inspired me to venture out and see all that it has to offer.
For instance, I had no idea that Jensen Ackles owned a brewery in Austin until my duck boat tour guide told me. That immediately went to the top of my to-do list.
I also try to plan ahead and find fun things to do over the course of my stay. I’ll research upcoming concerts and shows, find beautiful hikes and watering holes, and make a list of the best restaurants and breweries to visit. I often find these on Facebook events, TikTok, and by asking my new friends and locals.
It’s okay to feel like a tourist and ask locals for recommendations. In my experience, it’s the best way to find the most authentic adventures.
Before long, we’re perfectly cozy in our new city!
Staying with Landing
I thought it would be impossible to find furnished, pet-friendly apartments across the United States that would let me move from place to place with only a two week’s notice. But that’s what Landing offers! They have gorgeous apartments in modern complexes in over 375 cities. They’re perfect for the digital nomad who wants to travel in style. I’ve been staying at their apartments since October 2021, and I’ve really enjoyed my experience. Learn more here!
Recommended Blog: “What It’s Like Traveling as a Solo Woman“