If you are moving to a new city, this is your guide! I moved to San Francisco 7 months ago and I have worked really hard to get used to this place and feel like a local. I am writing this to be a universal guide. The concepts will be relevant no matter where you move (but my examples are specific to SF).
First of all, I highly recommend PODS. I had a great experience with them! And I wrote a Guide to Finding an Apartment too. Those are very important pieces to the puzzle. But in this guide, I will address the next step. You found a place to live, you moved in all your stuff, and hooked up your TV. Great! Now what?
1. Listen to the Radio
In the day of iPods and Satellite radio, many people have forgotten the value of local radio. If you want to learn about your city, a local radio station is a great way to do that. Find a morning show and tune in on the way to work. Note: do not listen to Bob and Sheri, or John Boy and Billy. Those are not local shows and kinda defeats the purpose! I like Sarah and Vinnie on 97.3 Radio Alice. Vinnie likes to surf in the Pacific Ocean, and Sarah plays in a local band. I like their show because, amongst all the garbage about Charlie Sheen, there is a lot of useful information!! I have learned that Hwy 101 is called “The 101”, Sarah Bareilles is from SF, and Keith Urban is giving a free concert on Saturday!
2. Read the Newspaper
At this point, you may be worried that I’m giving “Your Grandma’s Guide to Moving” but I’m not! Bare with me, OK? I am gonna prove to you that, despite seeming old-fashioned, the newspaper is actually useful today. The paper here is called the San Francisco Chronicle. I really took advantage of the paper during the November 2010 elections. I wasn’t registered to vote yet (because that requires a trip to the D[sic]MV), but it’s still important to me. CA was voting for a new governor, for heaven’s sake! Most people would say “I don’t care if Californians vote to legalize marijuana”, and to those people I ask “why not?” Even if you are not registered to vote, the results of the election will affect you!!
Other things I learned in the newspaper? The CA State Pension is almost dried up (do you think that affected my job search? You bethcha!), and Sheryl Crow will be signing her new book, “If It Makes You Healthy.” at 6 p.m on Mar 31 at Book Passage (more info at www.sfgate.com/literaryguide).
3. Search the Twitter-sphere
Even if you don’t have a Twitter account (gasp!), you can still use it. I went to http://search.twitter.com and typed in San Francisco. If that doesn’t work, click on Advanced Search. Then search for tweets near San Francisco. That’s how I found @sfphotorama and @sfzoo. Using Twitter is a less direct way of getting information…you have to sift through a lot of noise. But it’s an excellent way to find hip people in your city.
4. Find Blogs
Go to google and search for “San Francisco Blogs” (or whatever city you moved to). I really like SFist.com, The Toasted Blog, and CA Photo Scout. I really use blogs to understand the spirit of the locals. And also it’s a great way to find stuff to do. You may have just moved to a small town (Westchestertonfieldville?), but trust me, someone is blogging about it.
5. Follow Local Sports Teams
I moved to SF in the Fall of 2010 and COULDN’T ESCAPE the local sports team. The Giants were practically shoved down my throat. It’s probably not like that in every city, though. I recommend following a local team because sports is a universal conversation starter. It’s considered friendly to drop the occasional “Tim Lincecum” in a conversation with someone you just met. You may be wondering if I’ve abandoned my loyalty to the Braves. No, never. I’m just saying I try to avoid phrases like “the Braves are awesome and I wish we’d defeated you in the NLCS.”