By s.e. smith, Networx
Visitors to towns that rely heavily on tourism often express a desire to move there, imagining a lifestyle where they get to be on vacation all the time, instead of just for a few precious days or weeks. Some of them realize that goal in retirement or through making a major life shift that allows them to relocate to the place they always dreamed of. What they find often isnít what they experienced on vacation, because living somewhere is different from visiting, and people who have relocated to a community or established second homes there are often going to be viewed as outsiders by locals.
So, how do you live in a tourist community, whether full- or part-time, without antagonizing the locals?
Start by recognizing that your new home is not just a tourist town. Itís also a place where people live and work, and have done so for years. Even if much of the economy is tourist-based, the town still needs sources for supplies ranging from toilet paper to bedding, and locals rely on services like schools, hospitals, electricians and law enforcement just like the residents of any other city or town. If youíre going to be moving in, youíre going to become one of those people. In Mendocino County, CA (where I live) new residents who can offer a skill to the community, like San Francisco roofers who have moved to Mendocino, are able to integrate more easily than people who don’t lend a hand in some way.
So youíd better learn the ropes. Find out where locals shop, and start establishing yourself as a regular customer. Try being friendly with clerks and store personnel, because theyíre the ones whoíll be providing you with valuable advice once youíve become a regular and well-liked customer. A friendly relationship with the guy behind the meat counter, for example, can make the difference between getting the recommendation for the best cut, and being given exactly what you ordered with no additional commentary, even if itís not the best choice.
Learn about the local community, too. Try attending local events like fire department barbecues, town hall meetings, and theatrical performances. The more events you attend, the more youíll get known as a face around the community and someone who is genuinely interested in whatís happening around town. Make sure to introduce yourself to people at those events, and start building up connections. Think of it as networking, because thatís exactly what it is. Get willing to roll up your sleeves and contribute, especially during times of need when members of the community are counting on each other for help.