As Nick and I drove through our new city in Connecticut for the first time, it was freezing, snowing, and everything looked dead. My first thought was, “I hate it here.”
Then I took a step back. I had only heard negative things about living in Connecticut. I felt like what I had heard was already affecting my viewpoint and that I shouldn’t judge a place just because it was cold. I knew I had to change my way of thinking – fast.
So how do you go from a city you love to a city that you’ve only heard bad things about? Do you curl up into a ball and refuse to go outside? Do you accept what you see at face value?
No! Here’s what you do:
1. Change your mindset.
Whenever snowstorms come in Connecticut, Nick and I stock up on hot chocolate ingredients and let ourselves buy other snacks that we normally never buy. We get out a few books, put on our pajamas, and don’t let the snow bother us one bit. It would be easy to get upset that there is snow or wish I was back in Hawaii, but what good would that do? We turn snowstorms into treat-yo-self days.
And then Nick had two snow days in a row! That never happens in Hawaii. Connecticut for the win.
2. Change your expectations.
When we moved here, I had to find new things to love to do. I had to change my routines. It takes a while, but soon, you find your stride, your new normal.
3. Get out and explore.
The day that we moved here, we were staying in a hotel. We looked up restaurants – in our city, in cities nearby, and in cities a bit further away. On the way to eat, we would pull into shopping centers to see what was there. We would drive down random streets to see what was up. We would park in the little downtown areas and just walk around. How else will you find a city’s hidden gems?
So far I’ve found museums, restaurants with amazing food, quirky bookstores, literally the best ice cream sundae I’ve ever had in my life, and cute coffee shops. Bonus: there are a bunch of stores that we just did not have in Hawaii. Hello, Trader Joe’s, HomeGoods, Michaels, and Ikea!
Said ice cream sundae. Connecticut for the win. Again.
4. Love local.
Supporting local farms, restaurants, and businesses only strengthens your community. Support the mom-and-pop restaurants, the local bookstores, and the community hardware store. You will be probably get a better product, and you will be contributing to your new city.
On a whim, I booked a table at a restaurant that uses local, seasonal ingredients. It turned out to be amazing. It’s my new favorite restaurant, and Nick and I go there every single chance we get! Plus, we started buying our meat and eggs from a local farm. Getting to know where my food comes from makes me feel like I am becoming a part of the community here.
Don’t just shop at the chain stores and eat at the chain restaurants. Go to the local places and try new things. Check out the farmer’s market, the library, the local yoga studio. In my experience, these are often the best parts of any city, the things that can make it feel like home.
Before I even left Hawaii, I started following Connecticut restaurants, museums, and tourist accounts on Instagram and Facebook. I started making a list of all of the places I wanted to visit.
When we got here, I had an idea of what was here and where I wanted to go first. It absolutely helped me get over my “I hate it here” attitude.
6. Make some plans.
I have friends coming up to visit so I feel like I need to get out there and explore to find the best places to take them to! I know that we will have fun no matter what we will do, but I love taking visitors to my favorite quirky spots. And whenever we have a weekend free, Nick and I make plans to explore some unchartered territory nearby.
7. Look for the good. Always.
My friend and fellow military spouse, Jenny, has a motto: “you can always find more positives than negatives anywhere you live.” I’m not going to start listing the things I don’t like about my new city because I don’t think that’s productive. I will say that it’s not someplace I will look to settle down once Nick retires.
But I will look back on our time here with fond memories.
Because life is what you make it, and we are making our life here amazing. And because I already have my favorite go-to spots that make this city feel like home. And because we are so close to my family and friends that we can go home for a weekend to have dinner with my parents, or celebrate a friend’s birthday.
And because I look for the good. I think that slowing down this winter in Connecticut is the best thing that could have happened to me. Nick and I started spending more time cooking healthy meals and working out. I’ve been writing more than ever, stuff for the blog and stuff just for myself. I feel good!
I’m choosing to be happy.
How do you love a new city?