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If you’ve always called the same place home, you may take for granted that favorite coffee shop, your local gym, or even the leisure activities in your area. When you move, it’s quite the task to re-establish yourself and develop a sense of community. The Lake Area is an increasingly attractive option for those looking to put down roots – centrally located to Interstate 10, an abundance of industry and workforce opportunities, and no shortage of outdoor activities and night life. It’s no wonder families are looking to call it home, sweet home!
Welcome Home! Getting Settled in Your New Community
by Katelynn Mouton
Moving to a new community comes with many decisions. Finding the right job, deciding on the perfect house for your family, and the list goes on and on. Once those decisions are made though, it is time to make your new city a home.
Making decisions on things like schools, medical care, and more can be overwhelming when you are unfamiliar with an area.
This helpful list narrows down some of the key first steps to settling into your new hometown.
For a family with children, this is likely one of the biggest decisions to make. Private, public, charter, and home schooling are all options. Some easy ways to research which school might be the right fit for your family include reviewing school websites and social media accounts. Check out the courses and extracurricular activities offered and take a look at school testing data and other key student success factors to determine the right fit for your family.
If you have older children, nearing high school graduation, or have ambitions of your own to further your education, be sure to look into university and technical/trade offerings in the area.
- Medical Service Providers
Following closely behind choosing the right educational path, selecting your family’s medical service providers is another top priority.
First and foremost, selecting a general, family practice doctor and pediatrician, and getting a new patient appointment scheduled is key. From there, look into other specialty needs such as a cardiologist, internal medicine, OB-GYN, ENT and others that may be necessary to your healthcare needs.
Don’t forget the importance of routine dental care and eye exams. You will want to do some homework and select a provider for those services as well.
Just in case of an emergency or an after-hours need, it is always helpful to know where the closest emergency room and urgent care facilities are located.
Selecting a preferred pharmacy is also necessity when it comes to medical services.
- Faith-Based Organizations
For families active in their faith, selecting a new place of worship is also a high priority decision to make when relocating. The church home you are leaving may be able to help connect you with a church of the same denomination in your new city. Visit websites, look at service times that fit your family’s schedule, and don’t be afraid to move around a bit until you find the right fit. For many families, church is the foundation of their community. Check into options for bible study groups, youth activities, and any other ways to get to know new people.
- Extracurricular Activities
It cannot be all work and no play. Knowing what to do for fun is what makes life in any city fun and meaningful.
If you’re an avid gym-goer, look for an option that suits your workout vibe. Choose between 24-hour access, group classes, small group, or individual training. If you are more of a runner, cyclist or walker, look into local social groups who regularly gather for those activities. Many of these have Facebook groups established. These groups are a great way to find information about group activities, routes of varying lengths and more.
For the kids, you’ll likely be looking for some type of extracurricular activity. Options like gymnastics and cheer gyms and dance studios are all open for consideration. Sport leagues may be top of mind, too. Soccer, baseball, football, softball, volleyball, and more are all available to keep the kids active. Participation in these activities is also a great way for the whole family to meet new people.
If your family has more of a taste for the arts, check into music, art, and theatre activities. Look for options that involve both the young and young at heart so the entire family can join in on the fun!
- Financial Institutions and Other Services
When it comes to financial institutions, you may have accounts with a bank that has branches in your new city, but if you want a local connection, check for smaller local banks and credit unions. You may also want to select a new financial advisor and even an attorney to ensure you are established with these services should a need arise for your family.
- Quality of Life
In a place like Southwest Louisiana, sometimes just walking out your front door is the best way to meet people.
Look for website and social media content from your local governmental agencies, visitor’s bureau, and chambers of commerce to keep up with what is happening the area. Festivals and events help you explore and learn your new community in a fun way. You’ll meet new people and enjoy new cultural experiences.
Check into museums, galleries, parks, and more to keep your family active and on the go.
Finally, social media and web-based content like Google and Yelp Reviews can be great resources to help you start your list, but be sure to keep these reviews and comments in perspective and be willing to form your own opinion.
Networking in Your Neighborhood
by Katelynn Mouton
Whether you are new to a neighborhood or moving to a brand new community, a number of apps are available to connect you with what is happening near your new home.
While technology is handy, when it comes to safety, these apps should not be a replacement for getting to know your neighbors, according to Lake Charles Police Chief Shawn Caldwell.
“There is no doubt that being able to click open an app on your phone is helpful in terms of getting an overall picture of what is happening in your neighborhood and the surrounding area,” Caldwell says. “But this should not be your sole source of information. Real life connections and neighbors looking out for neighbors is still one of the best deterrents to crime in the community.”
More eyes keeping watch on the neighborhood is a powerful tool for law enforcement.
“Knowing what is ‘normal’ in your neighborhood and what may be a bit suspicious is a tremendous asset to law enforcement,” explained Caldwell. “Knowing your neighbors and what is typical on your street will help things out of the ordinary stick out.”
One great way to make headway in getting to know your neighbors is through joining a Neighborhood Watch Group.
“This concept may seem like an idea from a bygone era, but there are several active watch groups within the City of Lake Charles that our officers regularly interact with,” Caldwell says. “These groups are a great way to put names with faces within your neighborhood. Our visits to these meetings help us keep a pulse on what concerns residents may have and we are also able to share information about resources our department has available for residents.”
One such resource being the Safe and Secure Program.
“Safe and Secure is a proactive effort where, at the request of the property owner, our officers schedule a visit to provide a security assessment,” Caldwell says. “We are able to make suggestions on lighting improvements, security camera placement, and any other simple ways a property owner can take extra steps to increase security in and around their home or business.”
While on these visits, officers also provide a checklist and instructions on how to properly inventory personal property.
“While we want to do everything we can to help prevent theft, we also want to educate property owners on how to be prepared if the unfortunate should occur,” added Caldwell. “These property inventories, with things like serial numbers recorded, can help increase the odds of items being recovered.”
If you would like to learn more about Neighborhood Watch Groups in your area and other community safety initiatives, the Lake Charles Police Department is teaming up with a number of local agencies to host a Community National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 1. The event will be held at the Lake Charles Civic Center, 900 Lakeshore Drive, from 6:00-9:00 PM Learn more by calling (337) 491-1456.