April 18, 2013 by Dadinator
We moved recently to a small town. I sometimes refer to it as a hamlet, and that’s not an unreasonable description of Guildford town. According to the 2011 census the town has 244 people in it. Stats are here if you are curious or interested. I think I now know about 10% of them, having lived here for all of 3 months.
It’s daunting to be a new arrival in a small community. In my previous experiences of moving I was always close to friends and in relatively familiar areas. I spent 5 years ping-ponging around Brunswick before migrating into the wilds of Ascot Vale and then Kensington. For those unfamiliar with Melbourne, all these locations are within 15 minutes of each other.
Last year we moved to Castlemaine but we were still in a reasonably populated town, a town that these days is populated by many Melbourne emigres. The Wife linked in with mothers groups and a community garden group and quickly made friends. I didn’t have the chance. As a first tear teacher I ran around like a headless chook. I made no local friends of my own and my social network consisted mostly if coworkers.
This community was a different kettle of fish. Its like moving from country light to country proper. Its not full on remote living, we have neighbours and live close to the 4 local businesses. Still it can be an isolating experience. Moving into a town where everyone knows everyone, and you know no one….
So here’s what I did:
1. I joined the CFA.
2. I got on a first name basis with people who run the businesses around town: The general store, the pub and the post office.
3. I found someone tech savvy in town to friend on facebook so I could track down locals via social media ( I am gen y after all…)
4. If I saw a notice for a social group or activity I was interested in I didn’t let shyness get in the way, but I made an enquiry.
5. When I saw someone down the street I said g’day (I am also an Australian)
I think this list could be part of a tree changers guidebook….I have found universally that people have been friendly, warm and conversational.
I should also point out that having a cute child with me much of the time really helps too. So does the fact that we are expecting another, great conversation starter. But even without progeny, current or future, the list above might still prove useful.
The main thing I have found is that if you ,make an effort to reach out people almost invariably reach back.