Moving to a new city, let alone a new country, can be extremely disorienting. New culture, new neighborhoods, new street names, new restaurants. Whenever I move somewhere new, I like to go for long runs exploring the area. It helps me get a feel for the different areas and mentally map where things are and how to get there. I find there’s nothing like occasionally getting lost to really learn your way around.
Besides walking around and getting lost, how do you get your bearings in a new place? How do you figure out what restaurants, museums, and activities are worth your time and money? Tips from friends and colleagues are great and there’s a lot to be said for exploration. There are also some really useful apps and websites out there to help you discover. Here’s the rundown on four of my favorites:
Lonely Planet apps – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/apps-and-ebooks
Lonely Planet has dozens of city specific guides on the App Store available for purchase. Technically, they’re travel apps, but expats can benefit from them as well. Like the guide books, the apps include substantial background information on the city, tips on getting around, and maps of public transportation routes. You can also look up a dizzying array of sights, shops, restaurants, activities, and entertainment and filter the results by neighborhood, cost, or just by what’s nearby. It also offers up day trip options so you can explore the city’s surrounds.
Yelp – http://www.yelp.com/
Even though I’ve argued that Yelp doesn’t do a very good job when it comes to international moving, it’s still a great resource when it comes to finding all sorts of other businesses, from doctors and electricians, to trainers and salons. I’d be hard pressed to find a city not listed on Yelp. While not fool proof, their filters do a relatively good job of keeping out spam reviews that plague so many review sites.
EightSpots – http://www.eightspots.com/
One of the problems with finding new places is navigating the number of options out there. Both the Lonely Planet apps and Yelp can be overwhelming if you’re not sure what to look for. That’s why personalized content — such as Pandora for music or Netflix for videos — is so great. EightSpots is a brand new site that curates cafes, restaurants, bars, and coffee joints based on your tastes. Like the Lonely Planet apps, it’s targeted towards travelers, but I think it’s a useful tool for discovering things in your own city. When you use it for the first time, you answer a few questions about your preferences, select the city where you need some guidance, and it will build you an itinerary of places to try. The service is also expanding into other areas so will be more than just a place to find great eats. You can only join by invitation at this point, but they’ve created 25 invites for GoodMigrations readers. Just visit this link to sign up.
Ifeel – http://ifeellondon.com/
Unfortunately, this service is currently limited to only three cities: New York, Toronto, and London. But it’s such a great concept I had to include it (plus, there are lots of expats in these cities). Ifeel lets you pick the mood you’re in and then shows you places on a map where you can do things that fit that mood.
What other resources have you found useful in your new city? Post them in the comments so others can benefit.