Best Places to Live 2015: Cracking the New Town Code

If you’ve moved to a new town and your abode is hidden down a winding driveway, mingling is tough. How to break in without feeling like a middle schooler circling the cafeteria? Like any good Realtor would tell you, dress up what you’ve already got. Here’s how.

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

SCENARIO 1: You spent the past 10 years living in Cambridge, where you debated GMO labeling and the future of public education over local brews. Now you’re in a starter house and miss the discourse.

USE: Town listservs. This is where all local gossip unfolds. There’s no better way to become part of a community than by swapping horror stories about third-grade teachers, asking for chiropractor recommendations, and venting about the layout at the new Wegmans. But remember: A snippy post about vaccinations or breast-feeding could brand you for years to come.

SCENARIO 2: You moved to a new town for more space and good schools—and your social calendar has been wiped clean.

USE: Your children. Offspring are the best moving accessory. If you have an infant, it’s easy: Join a new parents’ group and bond with other bleary-eyed zombies desperate for human interaction. If your kids are a bit older, make a beeline to a nearby playground and let them break the ice for you.

SCENARIO 3: You landed a sweet studio in a great building. But your last meaningful conversation was with the ­delivery guy.

USE: Your need for exercise. Join a yoga studio, CrossFit, or anything that forces you into a communal sweating situation. Once someone’s watched you gasp for air while dangling upside down in spandex, you can skip the small talk.

SCENARIO 4: You downsized to a smaller place in a close-knit neighborhood. The neighbors have known one another for years.

USE: Your creative urges. There’s a fine line between alienating your neighbors and turning your home into a conversation piece. Pick one design detail—an unusual door color, a rock garden—and flaunt it. If your house makes a statement, you don’t need to.

SCENARIO 5: You moved beyond Route 128 for the tranquility of nature—but it’s pretty lonely down that long driveway.

USE: Your pet. In the suburbs, it’s tempting to spiral from work to garage to a blissful Netflix coma without seeing sunlight, especially during an endless winter. A canine forces you out of the house, and cleaning up after a dog is a great equalizer.

SCENARIO 6: You love where you live. You also work all the time and have no time to settle in.

USE: Your wardrobe. Nearly every town has an online yard sale or ­designer-clothing-swap group. You can tell a lot about a person based on their taste in gently used Boden sweatshirts. Bonus: purged closets.

SCENARIO 7: After years of renting in the South End, you’ve moved outside the city. You’re experiencing culture shock.

USE: Your alimentary desires. Cultivate a regular wine shop, restaurant, and coffee place. Visit loyally. Yes, even if the food isn’t nearly as good as at the place by your old apartment.


Check out all of our Best Places to Live 2015 coverage.