For most people (well, at least for me), one of the hardest things about moving is leaving friends behind and making new ones. It can be very tempting to just stay in the small world of your new house and new job without venturing outside of those circles. I confess that in a few places that we lived, I did exactly that. When you have moved many times, it's easy to say to yourself, "Why should I make new friends? It'll just be that much harder when we move again." But here's what I have learned: it's a good thing for it to be terribly hard to leave somewhere.
Friend-making can start before you even load up the U-Haul. Sites such as Facebook are wonderful for this. When we first began considering a move to Fort Smith, I searched for people on Facebook that had any connection to that town. One woman who came up in the search was in the Huntsville/Decatur, Alabama network, just like me, but she listed Fort Smith as her hometown. So I sent her a message and asked about her hometown. Her name is Lora. She's now one of my Facebook friends, we've met in person, and she's one of the inspirations for this blog. She has since moved back to the Fort Smith area, and I'm hopeful we'll soon be "real life" friends, too.
Through her, I have become connected to several other people in the area. In fact, the house that we will be renting was never listed for rent or for sale. Lora mentioned us to her friend Laura in the real estate / rental business, and Laura mentioned us to her friend who owns the house. I have also met another friend of Lora's, and we almost rented his house. Being from Fort Smith, she has been able to share all sorts of information about the area from schools to churches to restaurants to good areas to live. And because her kids aren't much older than mine, she understands what we are needing and looking for.
Now, I can't guarantee that you'll have exactly the same results, but don't be afraid to reach out to people online. In general, people love to tell you about the city where they live, and you'll get much better information than from city websites and such.
Later, I'll be writing more about how to get involved once you move, but I've found that the more connected you feel to a place before you even get there, the easier the transition will be.
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