About six years ago our family relocated away from the town in which I was born and raised. My mom had already relocated to this new city just a couple years before us and we followed her to get the kids closer to Grandma, which helped a bit since we were not completely unfamiliar with the area. However, we struggled with finding reputable services and were not sure who to ask for recommendations.
If you ever find yourself considering how to find services in a new town, here are a few ideas:
1. Angie’s List I resisted this one for a long time, but now wish I had signed up sooner. We are currently looking through reviews of general contractors in town to have a small project completed on our house. The new Angie’s List Health section is great for reading up on reviews of doctors in the area, too.
2. Coworkers One of the obvious resources to use after relocating for a job is coworkers. Not long after moving, we had some significant car troubles (beyond anything I could fix) and I dreaded finding a reputable auto shop. I asked a team member if he could recommend a decent auto shop and he was happy to recommend one – even offering to give me a lift back to work after I dropped off the car.
3. Church members Outside of work, fellow church-goers are often the people you will interact with most often. Ask around after Sunday school, or on your way to the parking lot after the service.
4. Hairdressers I keep my hair short, and in the height of my frugal days used to cut it myself with clippers. Because I could never get my neckline even in the mirror, and because my wife was scared to cut it, I had to find a cheap barber after relocating. After getting to know them, I’ve discovered a great resource for finding recommendations on other services.
5. Realtor Most real estate agents are well-connected with other businesses. Our Realtor was a great help in providing recommendations on school zones, neighborhoods, etc, and with getting setup with utilities, city services, etc. after moving.
6. Bank relocation team I used to work for a large bank in my hometown. They offered the services of a “Relocation Team” free to new customers who recently relocated to the area and decided to bank with them. The team distributed a welcome packet complete with information about the area, coupons and fliers from local businesses, and basically served as a help line for those new to the area.
7. Local magazine publications If you are new to an area, or are just stopping through and would like to find out more about the town, I highly recommend finding a bookstore and asking about any local newspapers, magazines, or trade publications. After moving, I picked up a copy of a magazine in our largest bookstore that featured news and events in the surrounding area. We learned about family-friendly things to do on the weekends, and even found the ads useful in hunting various service-providers.
You will find that people are generally happy to recommend someone if they received good service, and equally likely to tell you about places to avoid. If you haven’t made friends yet, or want to get a second opinion, consider hitting the Internet and doing your own research.
Any other resources we could add to this list?