I’m in love! Last month was our five year anniversary. I’m happy to say we’re still in the honeymoon phase, and I plan on putting in the work to keep the love alive for many years to come. I can’t say enough about my main squeeze- Seattle.
It wasn’t always this rosy. After a somewhat abrupt and awkward breakup with Milwaukee, I found myself in the Pacific Northwest with barely a suitcase. Seattle and I found ourselves sort of thrust upon each other, and we really didn’t have a choice but to make the best of the situation.
Our story is not uncommon- nearly 1 out of 4 people move to a new city every year. I’d like to share a little of our journey, in hopes that others might benefit from what worked for us.
A city can be a little more challenging to fall in love with than a person. There are an infinite number of variables to factor in, not just whether they want kids or like cats. Cities have a complex and collective vibe, that can ebb and flow with the weather or rush hours. Taking the time and effort to navigate these intricacies will have you humming love songs in no time.
Get to know your city!
Rent a bike, take a walking tour. Even smaller cities have so many interesting areas and charming spots that you miss from the drivers seat. I love seeking out new coffee shops every week. There are about 1,700 coffee shops in Seattle. By my estimation, I have over 1,300 yet to discover- enough to keep my interest sparked and caffeinated for years to come.
Become a history buff!
Many cities have some sort of local history area in their library, with original artifacts to boot! I have a book about the history of Seattle as seen through it’s architecture, broken down by neighborhoods. I spent many an enjoyable afternoon walking around, searching out the site of the original Seattle Opera house (now a parking garage) and the many businesses that are found underground! A totem pole stolen from Alaska! For me personally, getting to know the roots was where I really felt connected and fell in love. Seattle is not just a pretty face.
Research the weirdness!
This is a fun thing to do, even if you aren’t in a new city! Google “Quirky (insert city name here)”. Seattle has all kinds of interesting spots, from a bad art museum and circus school to a gas station shaped like a cowboy hat. Lots of these places don’t make it into the official tourism pamphlets, but there are a plethora of websites dedicated to celebrating the stuff that makes your city so unique and fun.
Nothing makes you feel like an integral part of a city faster than working shoulder to shoulder with your community for the greater good. I volunteered to pick up trash as part of a local clean up effort. What a great and effortless way to meet lots of my urban neighbors! I also volunteered to do face painting at a children’s event in exchange for tickets for a cultural event.
Find Meetups or other social groups with other like minded people. Join Facebook pages for local places that you like, to get notified when they have special events. Check local bulletin boards or newspaper events calendars. If you can’t find a group that specifically interests you, go anyway! You might find something you didn’t know you liked. At the very least, these are good places to engage with other locals and find out their recommendations for spots of interest. I did an online search of which bars support my favorite football team. Within weeks, I met another Wisconsin transplant that moved to Seattle to begin a new improv comedy group. I happily joined in, and am now a proud member of one of the largest comedy franchises in the world.
Follow the music!
It’s such an intimate way to get to know the personality of your new town. There are usually a good number of musicians in the audience supporting the onstage talent- being a musician myself, I enjoyed talking with people about where the local music has been, where it’s going. Every city has a different music vibe, it’s sort of cool to see how an entire area influences it’s ‘scene’, and becomes its own thing. Sort of like the bird beaks on Galapagos Island.
Milwaukee, I still love you, and a part of me always will. You’re a good, honest, hard working city. I know we’ll always be friends – but Seattle and I have put in the time to become something really special. It’s been worth every minute.
Share your thoughts now.