Getting to Know Your New Community

Moving is challenging, regardless of whether you have just received orders to a new duty station, are transitioning out of the military, or your job or new lifestyle leads you to a new location. Even in the most ideal situation, you will want to prepare for your move by gathering as much information as possible on your new community. This will help make the move easier for you and your family. 

Gathering information takes time. However, it is often the little things you want to know about a community that are important. Small things such as the location of the post office, where to go for dry cleaning, available child care services, and restaurants can make the difference between feeling overwhelmed or feeling at home.

Start your research by making a list of items or information that you consider important. Next, prioritize your list and make a schedule for collecting the information you'll need during the course of your move. 

Here are some topics or services you might want information on:

  • on-base/off-base housing;
  • hospitals, health care providers, dentists, and veterinarians;
  • transportation;
  • safety;
  • schools;
  • child care services;
  • pet sitters;
  • restaurants;
  • grocery stores;
  • dry cleaners/laundry mats;
  • recreational activities;
  • realtors;
  • lawyers;
  • employment market;
  • businesses;
  • utilities, phone/Internet providers; and
  • military/civilian community resources.

Here are some suggestions for finding the resources and services you will need:

  • Start by gathering all the information you can about your new community online. 
  • Contact the Chamber of Commerce or request information from state, regional, and local sources. These agencies often can provide maps, information on tourism boards, travel guides, information on recreation facilities in the area, and directories that contain the names of local merchants and services. 
  • Get a copy of the Yellow Pages for your new community online or request a copy from your local library.
  • If your company is moving you, contact your human resources or employee assistance program representative for help. 
  • If you are in the military, contact the military installation family center staff, a relocation specialist, or the personnel/human resources office for information about the base and the community. 
  • Contact the military installation housing office for information about on-base and off-base housing.
  • Ask your health care administrator/TRICARE representative, doctor, dentist, or lawyer for referrals to other providers since many professionals belong to national organizations.
  • Talk to local real estate agents, employment agencies, and businesses. Many are happy to send you packets of information or answer questions about housing, job markets, or other topics.
  • Subscribe to newsletters, newspapers, and magazines in the community. This is a great way to collect information about resources in the area as well as get acquainted with what life will be like in your new community.
  • Network with coworkers and base or community groups to establish connections and get contacts in your new community.
  • Get family members to identify services they are interested in, and get them involved in collecting information. 
  • Create enthusiasm by getting a map of your new community, and encourage your children to point out their new home and features in the community.
  • Contact the principal's office of your child's new school, or contact the schools you want to consider. Ask questions about the school's sports leagues, academic programs, activities, and parent/teacher groups or organizations. This will help you figure out what it is like in the local community and what fun activities are available for children.
  • Stay in close contact with key military or civilian representatives throughout the moving process to be sure you know what is expected of you. 

Additional Resources In Your New Community:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Get information about businesses and services in your new community through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Web site. 
  • Library Spot. Use this online library to get a wealth of information about your new community.
  • Moving.com. This one-stop shop contains links to everything you might need to help make your move a little bit easier.