How to Make a New Environment Feel Like Home

Every once in a while I’m contacted by a fellow “LifeRebooter” who wants to share their story.  Glen Allsopp, a young guy who left his life in Europe to experience a new life in South Africa, recently contacted me wanting to share his thoughts on his radical life change.

Due to Glen’s decision to reinvent his own life, he’s become an expert at making a new environment feel like home.  Coincidentally, his article came to me at an interesting time:  I’m moving into a new apartment in a slightly more rural area tomorrow.  Glen’s article starts below:

I always admire people who are able to see that they need to make a change in their lives and actually go out there and make it happen. It might be by reading personal development blogs, switching up their career, setting goals or any number of different things.

On your path, there may come a time when a new location is in order. For me, that was the case when I was offered a job in Cape Town, South Africa. At 18 years old, and living in the UK, I accepted the offer to move across the world to a country where I didn’t know one single person. At the time, that was the right decision and a change I really felt I needed in my life.

There will be some of you that find this post very relevant to your current situation, to others it may not apply, but that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Today I want to share some tips on making your new environment feel like home, just like I did in South Africa where I’ve just finished having the best 16 months of my life.

1) Make Friends as Soon as Possible

When I first moved to South Africa this was a project on the top of my list. Moving to a new location can be difficult, but being there and feeling confined to your home can make things even more so. I’ve written a guide on how to make friends but the basics always apply:

  • Just ‘get out there’ and be social
  • Invite colleagues or contacts to your home for lunch
  • Look for clubs where you can enjoy your hobbies with others
  • Join clubs such as book clubs or discussion groups

Having friends in a new environment can be the difference between loving where you are and wishing you were back to what you are used to. To me, this is the most important of any of the points you are going to read here.

2) Take Time to Work Out Where Everything Is

The last thing you want to do is run out of food and realize you have no idea where the supermarket is. Take time to learn your address (including area codes), where the closest shops are and even where the hospitals are in case of emergencies. On that note, if you have moved country, make sure you get the phone number for the emergency services; it’s likely they will also be different depending on whether you use a landline or a cell phone.

Additionally, see if you can find some nice ‘spots’ you enjoy. In Cape Town, I would often take girls to a place called Signal Hill, which is right next to Table Mountain. At night it rivals the most beautiful places in the world as you can see the whole city and there are some nice seating areas. Having little hideaways like this can be invaluable to enjoying your new environment.

3) Try to Stick to a Familiar Routine

Moving to a new environment is going to be enough of a shock to your system without needing to adjust to a new lifestyle routine as well. Of course, the reason you moved might not allow you to act in accordance with your familiar arrangements; if it does, then keep as close to them as possible.

This applies to things such as:

  • The time you wake up
  • The job you have
  • The activities that you get up to on weekends
  • The times you make food and eat

If you know that you are going to have a new time schedule in your new location, try and adjust before you make the move, that way things will be much easier once you do make the switch.

4) Bring As Many Comforts As You Can

You probably don’t like to admit it, but there are probably a few quirky things here and there you really enjoy that you can bring with you on your travels. This may be something as simple as your favorite cushions or throw over, but it might also range to a particular piece of furniture you like from your antique mirror to your ‘lazy-boy’ chair.

The more comforts you have, the more familiar your environment is going to be to you and the less change your mind is going to have to deal with. That is the key point when moving to a new location from one where you felt particularly homely, bringing as many comforts as you can to keep things familiar.

5) Where Possible, Invite Your Old Friends for a Welcome Party

Moving from England to South Africa, I couldn’t exactly fly all my friends over for a house warming and say goodbye to them at the end of the night as they all leave for the airport. However, your relocation may not be quite as drastic. Where possible, see if you can get your friends, old and new, to come celebrate your move.

This works well because in your mind you identify your social life (a very strong factor for feeling at home) with your new environment and that makes things stick in your mind and feel more ‘normal’. Of course, if you can’t do this then it simply isn’t an option, but where possible, make the most of it.

If you keep all of these points in mind, it could seriously mean the difference between enjoying your new surroundings and wishing you hadn’t made such a big ‘mistake’. I’m about to make a move again and go live in the Netherlands where I don’t know anybody. Based on my experience in South Africa and my points above, I’m sure I won’t have any problems.

I would love to hear about the relocation adventures of you all in the comments below…

Glen Allsopp writes for PluginID, a blog on the subject of Personal Development. His site’s mission is to help people ‘plug into their identity’ and realize they can live the life they want to live.

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6 Responses to “How to Make a New Environment Feel Like Home”

#1 Glen Allsopp on 12, Feb, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Thanks a lot for the opportunity Shaun, if your readers have any questions then feel free to ask and I’ll help as best I can!


#2 Nicholas Powiull on 13, Feb, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Change is the only guaranteed thing in life. Your willingness to change and adopt change, to push past your comfort zones will determine how successful you can manage in life. Success meaning happiness.

Indeed this is very important information to say the least 🙂

#3 twenty-six on 15, Feb, 2009 at 9:08 am

its hard to locate myself to a new environment and making a familiar routine at a new place would be a great motivation for me..but wait, there is no place here for me to do gardening..*sigh*

thanks for the good articles.

#4 anurag on 20, Feb, 2009 at 5:28 pm

good site … nice articles 🙂

#5 Guffin Mopes on 27, Feb, 2009 at 4:25 am

This is one of those situations where it really comes down to time healing all wounds.

If you don’t feel like you’re at home, it’ll be a matter of a few days or weeks, but it’ll happen.

Just leave dirty clothes out for a while; that’d work for me.

#6 E. Martinez on 16, Mar, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I agree with #5. My new place only felt like home once I had my family and friends visit me from all the way across the country.

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