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After the crazy process of finding and moving to your new perfect home, you’re finally ready for the fun part - as long as you follow our tips and do it right.
When it comes to moving homes and relocating to a new city or neighbourhood, there always seems to be a bittersweet feeling involved with the moving process from Point A to Point Z. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride. It’s stressful. It’s chaotic. It can be so overwhelming to the point of headache inducing. Most of us relax a little bit too much after the lease is signed and adopt a bad habit of not keeping the ball rolling and staying on top of the nitty gritty details of moving from old home to new home. Whether you are moving from one neighbourhood to the next within the same city, or traversing entire continents to set up a new home base - any scale of home relocation can be a challenging adjustment, which is why we have compiled a list of all the very useful things that you can do to help you get settled easier.
Being new to a neighbourhood is not easy, now add being a foreigner to a brand new city to the mix on top of all this. Unfamiliarity and uncertainty breeds anxiety and stress, for very legitimate reasons. First of all, you’re not quite sure how you will fit in to the new neighbourhood and that’s enough to overwhelm even the calmest person. Chances are if you are reading this, you are probably already seriously considering moving to the fabulously magnificent city we call Hong Kong. Or possibly, you have already lived in Hong Kong for some time but need a change of scenery within your own city and itching for a move to a new neighbourhood that you haven’t lived in yet. Maybe you have already settled for a new home in your chosen new neighbourhood but you’re only now asking yourself all these questions you hadn’t concerned yourself with when you were home hunting. You would be surprised by how many people don’t thoroughly think about all the realities on the details of moving until they are faced with it. As experts who live and breathe the real estate industry, we have to say that preparation is absolute key to success. The more well prepared you are pre-move, the better off you will be during and post-move. Your work doesn’t just cease to exist when you sign the lease or put down the payment to own a home. There’s a ton of tedious work that follows after, which is why it’s so important to stay ahead of the game and to be prepared in every way you possibly can. As we have pointed out, most people just move without seriously considering all the things that would concern them in their new residential neighbourhood; stuff like:
If you don’t already know the answer to most or any of these questions, don’t be too worried because you are most definitely not alone. It’s easy for everything to look peachy and colourful at the first few glances but reality sets in after you have settle down for some time. Nobody ever knows what it’s really like to live in a new home until they have lived in it for a while. Let’s discuss how to blend in and assimilate in to your new neighbourhood like a seasoned pro. We will also talk about how to make the neighbourhood your own in the quickest, easiest and most efficient ways possible, so let’s get started! These tips will hopefully help you find your rightful place within your new community and make it truly feel like a place you can call home. We have broken down our insider tips in to what you should do in your first few days, weeks, months, and year in a new neighbourhood/city.
Hong Kong is a very individual-focused kind of city. It’s not to say that there’s no sense of community in Hong Kong neighbourhoods, because there absolutely are, but compared to say a suburban neighbourhood with white picket fences where everyone knows everyone’s business - well rest assured - Hong Kong is the opposite of that. People in Hong Kong are busy 24/7. We are always on the move, getting from point A to point B, and most of the time we really don’t have the chance to stop and observe what the people around us are doing. However, when you make an entrance in to a new neighbourhood, there will be eyes on you to a certain degree depending on your choice of residence. Regardless, you will be the focus of neighbourly attention when you’ve got a huge moving truck and movers coming in and out of your new home. There’s no sly way of moving in, even if you are an introvert and all you want to do is move and remain invisible. Neighbours are curious to know who are living around them, in the same complex, building, and neighbourhood - which is the reason why it’s so crucial to get off on the right foot and make a banging first impression so you don’t rub anybody the wrong way from the get-go. At this point, you’re probably asking, “well…how exactly do I make a good impression right from the start? Knock on everyone’s door to make an introduction?"
Of course not. You can do that, but it’s not necessary and purely preferential. You can easily make a great first impression just be showing common social etiquette and manners. On moving day, and days where you have a lot of foot traffic coming and going, be mindful of how you handle and delegate the tasks. Do not hold up the main elevators all day long as if you own it, instead, use the freight elevators, plan ahead of time and notify the people in the building that it’s moving day for you and try to make it as convenient and pleasant for everyone as much as possible. Don’t block an entire entrance of the road or parking lot of your building with your moving trucks. Do not dump your clutter and moving boxes out in the hallways after you’ve emptied them. Do not leave your trash spread out everywhere. Try to be as quiet as possible during the move. Sure, a move can be chaotic but it doesn’t have to be a banging and clanging ruckus of a show for your entire building to hear. Make sure you behave considerately and don’t obstruct your neighbours’ day. Just because it’s your big day does not mean that you need to make it a day of production for everyone else as well.
In short: Make an entrance the right way, not the obnoxious way and you will be welcomed in to the community much warmer. You don’t want to alienate yourself from day one just because you were oblivious to your neighbours’ feelings. Make it a point to pick up on the unspoken rules and common courtesy in your new community.
During the chaos of your move, there’s bound to be some curious neighbours here and there who will come by to take a peek at who the new resident is and may even welcome you in to the neighbourhood. From the moving person’s perspective, now is not the right time to make small talk. You’re busy dealing with movers, you’re running around like a madman setting things up, you’re dripping in sweat from all the unasked for cardio - and in comes your new neighbours. When people are stressed, they tend to get snappy and short but do not do that with your new neighbours. Remember again that this is their very first impression of you, and one which will set the tone for how you will be treated within the community. Word spreads and people talk, it’s not hard for a game of telephone to occur where one person tells the next that the new neighbour is rude and unfriendly. Before you know it, you’re known as the grumpy new neighbour that nobody wants to have anything to do with. However stressed you are in your chaotic move, do not be dismissive and brush off your neighbours especially if they come to say hello. Take a few moments out of your time to genuinely greet your new neighbours. It never hurts to just smile and say a quick hello. Stopping for a few minutes to talk to your new neighbours will not set you back behind your schedule a whole lot, so make time and make the effort to do so.
In the first few days to weeks that you move in to your new home, you will probably be greeted by a lot of new faces. Friendliness, graciousness and courtesy are universal and understood by everyone. If someone stops to say hello to you, say hello back and have a short conversation to introduce yourself. If a neighbour is lovely enough to deliver you a housewarming gift, thank them and return the gesture in your own way, whether it be in the form of a thank you note or otherwise. Whatever you do, make sure that you are behaving with kindness towards everyone in the community. This goes beyond just being friendly and nice to your new neighbours, you should also do the same with the staff who works in your building; the security guards, the janitors, cleaning staff, maintenance staff, technicians and so on. Being friendly goes a long way. People are much more willing to lend out a helping hand to someone who has been friendly to them and you will be rewarded for your kind gestures at one point or another.
I always make it a point to introduce myself and be friendly to everyone in my new community each time i move. I don’t do it in hopes of getting something in return but that will happen organically whether you hope for it or not. I used to have a lot of maintenance problems in my last apartment. I lived in a huge complex with hundreds of people, so you can imagine the kind of work that the maintenance staff had scheduled from day to night. It was challenging for the residents to get anything fixed immediately. However, my kindness to the community staff was rewarded in ways that I am still very grateful about. Whenever I had problems with my apartment, the maintenance staff would make it a point to put me at the top of the list. Most of the time if it was within their means, the maintenance staff would make time to help me out first. There were many other neighbours in the building who took a different approach. They would yell, scream, curse and complain in verbally abusive ways towards the staff whenever their needs were not met immediately. This kind of behaviour is not only distasteful and unpleasant for the staff and fellow neighbours in the community, but it also backfired on them as the staff would essentially blacklist the rude residents. Nobody likes to deal with someone who is rude. Treat everyone you come across as you would like to be treated.
You don’t have to go out of your way to be forcibly nice in a fake way. You don’t need to go door to door to greet everyone in your building or throw a housewarming party for a bunch of strangers. There are simple ways you can make a good impression without overdoing it, especially in a city like Hong Kong. Each time you see someone in your community, make it a point to be friendly and approachable. If someone needs help carrying groceries, lend a helping hand. Don’t slam the door in your neighbour’s face or shut the elevator doors on them just because you don’t feel like waiting. Look for any opportunity to act like a good neighbour.
Most neighbourhoods have at least monthly community events for their residents. This is a great way to meet people who live in your new neighbourhood as you can get locally involved. It really depends on where you live though since some neighbourhoods will be more community-driven then others. If your neighbourhood has different community groups, why not check it out. The worst that could happen is you find out it’s not for you, but you could also walk away with a few new contacts that you can connect with later down the line. As someone who has moved homes enough to last two lifetimes, I cannot emphasize enough on how helpful it is to be on friendly terms with your neighbours. You never know when you will need a favour or help with something and it definitely helps to have a trusted friend around.
These days, everything is digital. People make introductions by asking each other for their Facebook accounts or Instagram handles. Welcome to the new age where everyone with a smart phone is digitally connected. Most of us are familiar with the popular social media platforms. Often times, neighbourhoods and communities have things like Facebook Group pages for community members to keep in contact with each other and to share important notices and updates about any neighbourhood going-ons. Don’t be afraid to get connected with the people in your new neighbourhood - all it takes is a click of a button! It’s easier to find new friends locally online these days with the advancement of tech platforms.
You can also subscribe to your new local city’s magazine or online blog if there is one. This way, you can always stay on top of any community events, safety issues and meet more people in your area. Check out flyers and bulletin boards when you visit coffee shops and restaurants. This is the quickest way to scope out your environment and all the events that are happening that could be of interest to you once you get all settled in.
If you have children, allow your kids to make friends with other similarly aged kids in the neighbourhood. Kids connect adults together, so you can actually become friendly with fellow parents if your kids are friends already. This will give you the opportunity to introduce yourself, and let’s not forget those play dates. Getting your kids involved in the moving-in and settling-in process is a low-pressure way to familiarise yourself with other parents and families. Make sure you accompany your children during the meet and greets so assure that the kids get along, otherwise you are headed down a troubled path with tension between parents. Also, teach your children to behave friendly and courteous to everyone in the community as well. Your children represent you and your family. You don’t want to be known as that parent who has that one kid who is a terror in the community.
If you have pets and are lucky enough to score yourself a pet-friendly home in a pet-friendly neighbourhood in Hong Kong…Congratulations! Hong Kong is not the most pet-friendly city in the world but there are pockets of neighbourhoods in the city that are very welcoming towards pets. Having a dog is a great ice-breaker and conversation starter. The majority of people will say hi to a dog before they say hi to the owner (comical but true!). If a neighbour strikes up a conversation about your pet, be open to continuing the talk. Let your dog meet other dogs in the neighbourhood. If you are a dog-lover, meeting other dog-lovers in your community will be very helpful. You can find out where the best dog parks are, where the best vet to go to is, where the other neighbours take their dogs out for walks, and even where the dog-friendly food establishments are. Having a pet is an ideal way to meet other likeminded neighbours who share similar interests to you.
More than exploration by yourself throughout your new neighbourhood, you will be able to find out the ins and outs of the community way quicker if you talk to your new neighbours. These are people who have lived there for longer than you have, they know the good, bad, and the ugly and can point you in the right direction of where to find certain resources that you need. Your first few weeks in your new neighbourhood is the best time to seek our these essential places and more. Get acquainted with the store owners too. Find out where the local supermarkets are, wet markets, coffee shops, restaurants, dry-cleaning shops, post office, hospital, police station and so on.
Don’t be afraid to be a tourist in your own backyard. You’ve just moved in to a new home and probably spent most of your time unpacking and getting settled. Take some time out from all the stress of moving to check out your new digs. It’s always exciting to explore a new neighbourhood.
What kind of tips would you recommend for people who are moving to Hong Kong or to a new neighbourhood? We would love to hear your thoughts so that we can help accommodate our clients better. Engel & Volkers is more than just a real estate agency, we are a full-serviced company with the goal to make your move quick, pleasant and easy. Our team is always here and ready to have a chat with you about any questions you may have.
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