What makes a good "welcome to our town" package?
June 29, 2014 10:02 AM   Subscribe

What would you like to have known when you moved into your town? I'm helping to put together a 'Welcome to' package for new residents to my town and looking for ideas of what to add to it. What would have helped you settle into and get to know your neighborhood when you moved in?

The package will be published and distributed by the town's Community Foundation, and will be a printed package mailed to new residents, as well as posted on the Foundations website. So far we will have sections on the history of our town, descriptions of the different neighborhoods, town services, public transport and places to shop and eat in town. What else can we include?
posted by darsh to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe some resources for a (non-911) emergency: some 24-hour pharmacies, locations of ERs and urgent care centers, etc.
posted by scody at 10:09 AM on June 29, 2014

Available day care options and dining coupons (2 for 1s, etc)
posted by halfbuckaroo at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Web addesses/twitter for local businesses and civic groups for people who like that. Coupons are fun. Answers to simple questions like

- how to get a library card
- how to register to vote
- school info/dates for families
- parks/rec information for families
- dates & times for locally celebrated holidays/parades, maybe a mini-calendar generally
- where to get wifi, how to contact ISPs
- local media info if you have any

Some of this depends on whether it's a small place or a big place and whether incoming people are likely to be families, retirees or young people with new jobs. I always like local trivia as a way to humanize a place "Did you know that we have the oldest purpose-built movie theater in the US?" is my town's claim to fame.
posted by jessamyn at 10:23 AM on June 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Neat idea. I would include a list of festivals, parades, and town events. Also, a list of natural resources like parks, playgrounds, natures preserves and the like.

Finally, maybe a section on how to get involved and meet friends? Like civic organizations, volunteer groups, social clubs, choirs, churches?
posted by minervous at 10:23 AM on June 29, 2014

Info that would have been helpful to me when I moved to the small-ish town in which I currently reside:

* Child care resources (list of local daycares; the actual ways that local people here have had real luck finding a long-term babysitter such as by word of mouth, or Care.com).
* List of handyperson contractors and other service/repair people who will actually return phone calls, show up on time, and do a decent job (nope, folks here don't use Angie's List).
* Churches that welcome the LGBTQ community.
* Translations of certain local parlance (i.e. When they say "The Boulevard," the locals are referring to "Southwestern Boulevard").
* A list and addresses of local playgrounds.
* Where to get a driver's license and car registration tabs in town.

In general, it takes a long time for newcomers to identify the handful of businesses that are open when most others are not, such as:

* List of restaurants that are open on Sundays.
* Dentists who will see new patients on Fridays and/or weekends.
posted by hush at 10:44 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Recycling/trash day info.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 11:03 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maps with some pleasant local short walks, including ones suitable for dogs / pushchairs / wheelchairs. Countryside walks, as well as the kind of "tour of my town" walk that a friend might take you on.

In your "descriptions of the different neighborhoods" it would be nice to have short paragraphs by a variety of different residents (with pictures) calling out what they personally like about where they live. It would be nice a child and a teenager as well as people from local subcultures; if you have space maybe a vicar / imam / headteacher / police / crossing attendant / shop owner / etc.

Where to give blood? Where to donate to the food pantry (or use the food pantry) or volunteer to go chat to elderly people or whatever else goes on.

Lots of pictures.
posted by emilyw at 11:05 AM on June 29, 2014

list of restaurants/pizza places that deliver. annual events/parades/festivals.
posted by hydra77 at 11:07 AM on June 29, 2014

Is there a local city or regional magazine, or an area alt-weekly newspaper? I'd talk to the circulation department of such a publication about getting copies (for free or at a discount) to bundle in with the package, especially copies of any kind of annual "best of" issue. Or if you can't bundle an entire issue into the mailing, the magazine or newspaper still might have a "best of" story you could reprint (with permission) as part of the package, as well as include online. It's win-win: New residents get info on the best stuff locally, and the publication gets read by potential subscribers.

Alternately, you might consider partnering with a local publication on putting together the package in its entirety, as they could help keep your costs down in printing it and/or suggest things to include that you wouldn't otherwise consider, and if they crosspromote the guide, it might help bring attention to the cool things about your area.
posted by limeonaire at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2014

A list of your local radio stations, including the traffic advisory station. I would kill for this to put on my fridge.

Community theater information.

Places to volunteer and contact information to reach coordinators.
posted by bilabial at 11:31 AM on June 29, 2014

Thrift stores! Particularly those that sell/take furniture and household goods. I always need weird stuff for cheap after a move (and a place to get rid of the excess from then on).

Info on your local household hazardous waste collection.

If you have weird street parking restrictions, that would be good to know. And more generally, where to park downtown.
posted by gueneverey at 11:35 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there anything weird about your town? The traffic, the culture, the services? A lot of places have unusual conventions and rules and things that residents get used to and forget are weird. Maybe ask some newer residents what things surprised them the most.

Surprise school zones, unusual city codes, weird blue laws, traffic and service anomalies, just about anything.

As an example, my city does not have municipal trash collection. You have to go find a private company. It's practically our own special welcoming ritual, where someone goes over and explains to the new folks why their trash didn't get picked up along with everyone else's. But nobody ever thinks to mention it beforehand, and the city doesn't do an especially good job of explaining it, either.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:45 AM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ah yes, the trash. How does trash work? We bought a trash can and recycling bin and then found out the city will drop them off for us. That was a waste of money.

The thrift stores, yes.

What are the beer laws?

WHERE CAN I GET A GOOD LATTE? This took me weeks (WEEKS) to figure out this last move. WEEKS. I drank coke zero for days. NOT GOOD.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 12:11 PM on June 29, 2014

Please include all parks! I've been here for 7 years and I'm still finding some. And not just parks in your town but the cool ones that are within a 30 minute drive.

Also, any cultural events. It took me forever to figure out that my town has an active art community.

The names and numbers of service companies for internet, television, electricity, etc.
posted by myselfasme at 1:33 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Vets and maps of where the 24hr emergency vets are. Specify which parks have playgrounds, off-leash areas (or no dogs allowed).
posted by jrobin276 at 2:38 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the most useful info is about those things that might be different from city/town to town and are not easily found. Private trash collection is a good example of that. In St Paul MN, the city does not plow the alleys & most houses have alley access for garages; neighbors get together and hire someone to plow their alley. We were surprised to get an envelop that said, "Your share for alley plowing is $25. Give it to Bob at xxx street." Also in St Paul, recycling will pick up clean clothes/linens each pickup. How to get rid of the stuff left from moving is useful, too--recycling, FreeCycle, haulers, Craigslist, whatever is common in your area. Church list with up-to-date service (or web site) info is useful for new people.

Non-emegency numbers for city/police/fire (and who is law enforcement; some places use county sheriffs for small town patrol) & animal control for when the cat escapes because the movers left the door open. Parking restrictions, farmers markets, library locations/hours/cards/info, park & rec programs, community ed, dog parks, parking restrictions, curfews, who will give/sell you compost bins/rain barrels/garden plots, list of 24-hour stores, and similar info can ease newcomers stress of "how do I..." or "what if..."

I moved to St Paul with a 1-year-old in winter. It was lonely & hard, until someone told me about Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), a neighborhood-based parent/child series open to all through community ed. It changed our lives and opened the city to us--we found friends for both of us. If you have something like that, tell them!
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Overview of local government (or at least list link to same)
-- county / parish / unincorporated area
-- city / village / town
-- Mayor / city manager / county executive and how to contact them

List of things you need a permit for
-- construction (plumbing, electrical)
-- trash burning
-- tearing down sheds (accessory buildings)
-- moving structure nearer to lot lines

We've offered many many choices: maybe the best link is the resource which can answer all these questions. In Madison it's First Call for Help plus our awesome librarians: I would put that contact resource in the running header/footer of your print publication.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:52 PM on June 29, 2014

In the age of the internet, I think a lot of the suggestions for things like "what are the local radio stations" and "who has the best pizza" are kind of obsolete. I think the really good kinds of things to include would be very location specific. Local gems that long time residents appreciate about their home.

For example, in my neighborhood in Seattle, we have given welcome packages that include a book of family hikes in the area, a gift certificate for Sunday brunch at a place that happens to be located in the middle of a great outdoor farmers market, and a gift certificate for each of the best dry cleaner, cobbler, and pet supply place in the area.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:10 PM on June 29, 2014

Specific information on how to set up all your various utilities - we got a list from our realtor that gave us the contact info for every company we could use for each thing: water, electricity, internet/cable, trash removal, etc. Some of the things (water) there was obviously no choice, but it was nice to know for some things (especially trash removal) what the local companies were and how to contact them so we could price compare.
posted by bibbit at 7:19 PM on June 29, 2014

Where are the gyms?
Where/when can you drop off yard waste or is it collected?
Where are the public pools?
In my town, streets are plowed in an order and each street is either a 1,2,3,4, and that would have been helpful to know my first winter here.
posted by thewestinggame at 7:43 PM on June 29, 2014

We just moved to a new city and the vistors' centre did up a welcome pack for us. In no particular order it contains:

Educational facilities
Arts and crafts suppliers and classes
Annual events
Entertainment guide
A list of display homes
A list of restaurants and cafes
Public BBQ locations
Public sporting venues
Activities guide
Wineries in the area
Secondhand shops
Places of worship
Local markets
A one page fact sheet about the city
A traveller's guide to the area
I think we got a list of parks too.

They also mentioned that the local council has a welcome pack too wich I will pick up this week. What I hope it contains is:

Rubbish/ recycling schedule
How to use the buses (cash or prepaid card?)
Important contact numbers
A list of power and gas companies
Pet registration information
How to change over your licence and car rego
Public services information (libraries, pools etc)
City parking information
posted by poxandplague at 9:47 PM on June 29, 2014

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