How to Create the Feeling of Home in a New Area

A big move can be a daunting experience, so make it easier for yourself with these helpful ideas

Original article first published on Houzz

Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

If you’ve ever made a big move, whether to a different county or a different country, you are probably familiar with that uprooted feeling that comes along with leaving everything known for something different and new. It can be exciting but also… terrifying. How do you build a life in a new place? When you’re wondering how to find the supermarket, navigate the tube and perhaps even learn a new language, having a warm, cosy, comfortable place where you can rest your head becomes even more important than usual. Making a home away from home is hard — get the ball rolling by trying out one or more of these ideas.

Set up a routine
When you arrive in a new place, whether it’s a different city or a different continent, a daily routine can help create a feeling of normalcy. Seek out a few spots in your local area – a café, bakery and newsagent, for instance – and visit them each day. Smile and say hello (or bonjour or ciao) to the shopkeeper, sip your coffee, eat breakfast and repeat. After a few days of this, you and the shopkeepers (and maybe a few other regulars) will get to recognise one another, making the greetings more familiar and perhaps warmer.



Shop and cook à la Julia Child
Channel Julia Child, who famously explored France, often solo, while her diplomat husband Paul Child was busy working. Although Julia must have stuck out in a sea of native Parisians, she fully embraced the experience by tapping into her passion for food — something people of all cultures understand. Give yourself a mission to explore the markets and local foods of whatever area you have moved to, whether that’s Paris or Edinburgh.

Learn more about where you are
It’s natural to feel out of sorts when you first arrive in a new place — but don’t let that discomfort turn to feeling judgmental or bitter about the differences between where you are now and where you used to live. Read books about the area and the culture. Sign up for a language course or join a conversation group. Cultivate an attitude of optimism and curiosity about your surroundings.



Create a sanctuary in your bedroom
Exploring a new city can be exhausting, especially if there are language differences involved. Give yourself the gift of an utterly safe and comforting place in which to land at the end of each day by making your bedroom the ultimate sanctuary. Soft lighting, lovely bedding, a scented candle, cosy slippers and perhaps a small radio or a phone dock so you can listen to your favourite music will help the space feel like home.

Discover tranquil bedroom ideas



Embrace the local coffee (or tea) break
From English teatime to the Swedish coffee-and-cake break known as fika, it seems nearly everywhere in the world has its own break-time tradition.

So wherever you are, do as the locals do. In Italy enjoy a shot of espresso taken in a single gulp while standing at the bar in the café, like the locals do on a quick break from work.

A small shift in the way you do things, even in your own home, such as taking afternoon tea rather than coffee, can be a gentle way to nudge yourself into a new culture.



Treat yourself to lots of fresh flowers and candles
A simple but highly effective way to make your new home feel cosy and welcoming is to go a little wild with candlelight and fresh flowers.

Cluster candles on trays, put one on your bedside table and line them up at the centre of your dining table.

Visit a flower stall or grocery store and treat yourself to fresh blooms once a week. When your mood needs bolstering, light all your candles, put on some lovely music and inhale the scent of the flowers gracing your space.

Check out how to display flowers

Connect online with people back home … but not too much
This is the digital age, after all – you might as well take advantage of it! Connect with friends and family through video calls and social media, if you like. But remember, connecting with long-distance loved ones should be a nice treat, not a substitute for getting out there and building a satisfying and interesting life in your new area.



Put personal treasures on display
Books, photos, artwork and other personal items become even more important when you’re in a new place.

Take an afternoon to display your things in your new place – hang up photos of friends and family, organise your bookshelves and put your favourite linen on the bed.



Reinvent your style … if you want to
You’re in a new place, and no one knows you yet. Why not take this as an opportunity to try out a new look? Edit your wardrobe, organise your wardrobe and go shopping. Besides, shopping is a great excuse to get out there and explore a new area.



Make a personal connection in the new place
Easier said than done, but well worth the effort. If you’re finding it hard to meet people, try seeking out a local group related to one of your passions or hobbies. Take a class, volunteer for a local charity or attend an event that sounds interesting. If you’ve moved to a new country, connect with the local expat community. If you’re a parent, seek out a play group to join. Once you’ve made one connection, it’s bound to lead to others.



Tend a garden
Planting something, even a potted garden on your balcony, makes a statement that this is a place you plan to stay in for a while.

If you love gardening but don’t have a garden of your own, see if there is a local community garden where you could get a small area to tend — it could also be a great way to connect with other like-minded people.

Get more garden inspiration

Collect moments of beauty
Of course, there are places we immediately think of as beautiful, but every place has its own charm. Grab your camera and head out on a daily walk, snapping pictures of the little things that catch your eye.

If you want to make it interesting, issue yourself a creative challenge – take photos of a single colour, or find the first letter of your name or a heart shape. The creative project will loosen you up, and you may end up with some frameworthy shots to boot!

Reignite your wanderlust
Plan a day trip to a region you’ve never explored. After the shock of being somewhere totally new, you may realise that the place you come back ‘home’ to feels exactly like that … home.

Make your home feel sweet, even if it is temporary
Those who move frequently, learn that home is where you make it. No matter how long you think you’ll be staying where you are, you might as well make it the best possible experience while it lasts.

Christmas traditions around the world [infographic]

Going overseas for Christmas, or looking to expatriate in time for next December? With Yuletide celebrated across so much of the world, what festivities might you expect in your host country?

Christmas around the world.png

Moving overseas this Christmas? Pickfords delivers our customers’ belongings to every country across the world. Request a quote today to avoid disappointment.

Travelling at Christmas: an expat guide [10 top tips]

Whether you’ve booked your move abroad for the holiday season, or are looking forward to coming back to the UK for Christmas, there are several  considerations for yuletide travel that will help things go smoothly at the airport and beyond.

Notify your bank

Your bank may interpret overseas charges as suspicious activity and deactivate your card. Prevent this by letting them know when you’ll be overseas.

Don’t forget your essential documents

Make absolutely sure you and your family have your passports, booking confirmation, travel insurance details and visas before travelling.

Keep presents unwrapped

Wrapped Christmas presents arouse suspicion, so keep them unwrapped and make sure they comply with the airline’s usual security and weight restrictions.

Keep liquid gifts in your hold luggage

Liquids in hand luggage carry a weight limit of 100ml, so most liquid presents will need to be kept in your hold luggage. If you do take liquids with you on the plane, make sure they are sealed in a small, transparent plastic bag.

Reconsider taking Christmas crackers

Most airlines have at least some restrictions on Christmas crackers, and some ban them completely. Better to leave them out of your luggage and purchase them in your destination country.

Check decorations before packing decorations

Christmas decorations made of organic material, such as pine cones, aren’t allowed into certain countries. Australia is particularly strict, prohibiting all foreign flora from entering their country to protect its environment.

Pack bags in layers

Packing in layers (e.g. a layer of clothing, followed by a layer of books then a layer toiletries) is much easier for security to interpret in their scanners than a hodgepodge of items, so will likely get you through screening much quicker.

Be ready to unpack your hand luggage

Pack electronics and sealed liquids at the top of your hand luggage so you can access them quickly and place everything in the screening trays.

Prepare for local weather

Choose a travel outfit that can be easily adapted to the local weather forecast. Pack any extra layers in your carry-on, or ensure they’re easily accessible from your main luggage.

Plan your onward journey

Pre-book any onward public transport well in advance. If driving, familiarise yourself with your route and plan rest stops for journeys longer than two hours. Use a satnav or smartphone app with rerouting options in case of traffic.

Moving overseas this Christmas? Pickfords delivers our customers’ belongings to every country across the world. Request a quote today to avoid disappointment.

Emigrating to Australia: what you need to know [infographic]

With good wages, a high standard of living and a laid back culture, Australia is by far the most popular destination for British expats. Here’s what you need to know before making the move Down Under:

Emigrating to Australia.png

Ready to move to Australia? Pickfords helps thousands of expats emigrate Down Under every year. Get a quote and book your home survey today.

Canadian culture: a British expat guide [infographic]

Canada’s open immigration policy, quality healthcare and multi-sector job vacancies makes The Great White North a high-sought destination for British expats.

As with any new environment, expats will face a number of cultural differences that may jar at first, but over time will serve as a positive reminder of why you originally decided to emigrate:

Canada expat guide

With partner offices in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, Pickfords relocates hundreds of expats to Canada every year. To find out how we can help you fulfil your expatriate dream, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.

An expat’s guide to American culture [infographic]

Offering a range of work and retirement options, the US is one of the most popular destinations for UK expats. Brits destined for the Land of the Free will enjoy a largely familiar language and lifestyle, lower taxes, cheaper food and, often, better weather.

While all this can mean easier cultural integration compared to other popular destinations, Brits will inevitably encounter a degree of culture clash while stateside. Here’s a few things to look out for:

USA culture.png

With partner offices across the States, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Pickfords relocates hundreds of expats to the USA every year. To find out how we can help you fulfil your expatriate dream, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.

Emigrating to Spain: what you need to know [infographic]

With great food, a laid back culture and, of course, fantastic weather, Spain is one of the most popular destinations for British expats. Whether you’re emigrating for work, retirement, or just a change of scenery, there are a few things to arrange before making the move to Spain:


Emigrating to Spain

What paperwork will I need?

Within three months of your arrival, you will need a “Número de Identidad de Extranjero” (‘NIE’) identity card and a “Tarjeta de Residencia” residency card.

An S1 form is vital should you require medical treatment. You will need to sign the “Padró Municipal d’Habitants” register at the local town hall.

When applying for any of the above, make sure you have proof of your previous residence, proof of having ceased residence there, a copy of your work and residence permit, and your passport.

What should I do about finances?

It is best to set up a Spanish bank account and be able to prove how much money you have in your British account. When you come to transfer your assets, Pickfords’ foreign exchange service can help you move your money safely and securely.

You can still receive your British state pension while living in Spain, as long as you inform the  Department of Work and Pensions of your move.

Can I take my pet with me?

Certain pets are allowed in Spain with a European Pet Passport. Appropriately vaccinated and microchipped pets should be able to travel without being placed in quarantine.

Pickfords’ pet shipping service will arrange all the details of your pet’s relocation.

What will happen with my belongings?

Pickfords provides a complete packing and removal service to Spain. We carefully pack your goods in the UK, collect them from your home, transport everything to Spain and arrange delivery and unpacking at your Spanish residence. We also provide goods storage in the UK or Spain if required.

Ready for your move to Spain? Get a quote or book your home survey today.