Top ten ways to feel at home in your new neighbourhood

When you buy a new home, you’re also taking ownership of your place on a street and in a community. Kevin Mountjoy, national sales manager at ooba, South Africa’s biggest bond originator, says that there are lots of practical and social things that you can do to help you move into your new neighbourhood.

  1. Get to know your neighbours. Introduce yourself to the people in the houses or apartments on either side of yours, as well as opposite, if there is one. Let them know when you’ll be moving in, and give them your contact details and take theirs, if they’re happy to provide them.
  2. Introduce yourself to the local residents’ association or body corporate, and sign up for any newsletters or email groups.
  3. Get your utilities sorted out. Sign up with the relevant providers to have the water, electricity, gas, phone and internet put into your name. For municipal bills, you will need to go to your nearest customer service centre with a valid ID, details of next of kin, your banking details, payment for the required deposit, your offer to purchase or deeds document, your meter numbers and the latest readings, your contact details and the completed Application for the Supply of Water and Electricity form. Also find out whether your area has a recycling pick-up or identify the nearest dump that you can take your recyclable waste to.
  4. Go into your bank and switch branches so that any deliveries come to the most convenient location for you. Remember to take note of your new branch code for future electronic transfers.  And register your new address with anyone who sends you bills, so that you don’t lose out on vital information that should be coming your way.
  5. Look at the websites for the Rotary Club, The Lions Club or the Round Table Club for branches in or near your area. By getting involved in charities like these, you can actively participate in improving the lives of people living in your community.
  6. Sign up with an armed response company that has a high presence in your neighbourhood. Usually, the more people that go with a particular provider, the more cars they will allocate to the area, and the quicker their response time will be. Assess the security levels of other houses on the street, and attempt to match them. And find out from the local police station if there are any particular types of criminal activities you should be vigilant for.
  7. Find out about the local healthcare providers like doctors, dentists and vets, as well as the nearest emergency room.
  8. Work out your quickest routes to your work and your children’s schools – but remember to test these in rush hour so that you avoid surprise bottlenecks. Also, find out about the public transport offered in your area – there is growing, quality public transport infrastructure in South Africa, and you might find that you are pleasantly surprised by the convenience.
  9. Contact your insurance company to make sure that your policy is aligned with the type of security that you have in your new home, and with the area that you are now living in. Ensure that you are covered for your move and during any planned renovations.
  10. Do some research into courses and classes offered in your area. Yoga or pottery, for example, are great ways to make new friends for you and your kids.

“Moving into a new house is so much simpler and less stressful if you have a sense of belonging there,” says Mountjoy. “By doing some of the things we’ve suggested here – especially if you do them before you move in – you will find that there is less admin and more joy in settling in to your new home.”

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