When George and I moved from Chicago to Dayton, we talked a lot about how important it was that we make an effort to engage with our new city, get to know new people, and start to make Dayton feel like home.
Now, it certainly helped that I grew up in Dayton, but a whole lot has changed in the 10 years that I’ve been gone! Although the roads are familiar and we have a built-in support system here, Dayton feels so different (in a good way!). It’s grown so much, has super trendy restaurants and breweries, and since I’m older (and my new favorite thing is mulching our front yard) I’m seeing Dayton with new eyes. George and I decided it was really important to get to know this mid-size city again as a couple and we’ve had a lot of fun exploring over the past few months!
So, here’s my advice for making a new city feel like home (especially a manageable city like the DYT after living in a huge city like Chicago):
- Go on walks around your neighborhood: We’ve found that walking around our neighborhood makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger. We see the same dogs, check out the new houses for sale, and stop by the high school baseball games. We feel part of a community without actually having to talk to many people. 😉
- Read the local paper: We read both our small neighborhood newspaper (which is hilarious and the best) and follow the articles on Dayton.com to keep up to date with new restaurants opening, events downtown, and just general knowledge stuff that makes us feel like we have some inside knowledge about what’s going on.
- Use social media: When we first moved, I immediately started following Dayton restaurants on social media and joining local Facebook groups. And I learn so many things this way! I learn when a restaurant’s trying out new menu items, when one of our favorite bar’s is having a free “crafternoon,” and when there’s a free concert in the park. It’s amazing the stuff you can get for free when genuinely engage in social media.
- Volunteer: George and I made a pact to volunteer at an event at least once a month this year and that’s been an incredible way to feel a part of our greater community. We don’t have stipulations on what kind of event it is, it just has to be something we care remotely about. So far this year, we’ve volunteered for an LGBTQ+ Youth Summit, two beer festivals, a trails symposium, a pancake breakfast, and announcement video for a local political candidate. We’ve met some incredible people, gotten to know leaders in the community, and had a lot of fun seeing how all of the different events are organized (ok, maybe that’s just me who likes to see how events are organized).
- Go to stuff: Seriously, just getting out of our house and going to events downtown has been our biggest source of Dayton-inspiration. We’ve been to lots of grand openings, open houses, and free events around the city. Our move also coincided with a political climate that lends itself to lots of protests, so we’ve attended quite a few local protests downtown. It makes us feel like we have something in common with our neighbors and makes me say to myself, “I love this place” about 10,000 times.
- Learn about the history: I love teaching George about the history of Dayton, and we’re working on a radio project right now that’s making us dive even deeper into Dayton history. Going to the museums, driving around historic homes, and just talking about the history of the city has given us deeper ties to this place.
Got any other ideas for us as we approach our 1 year anniversary of living in Dayton?