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Live Like A Local: When I actually feel at home!

When traveling I always try to live like a local. I’ve never done a round the world trip like many others did but I have been traveling for almost 6 years non stop. What I did, was moving from one place to another. It all started in Australia where I lived for a year in 2008, when I arrived in Brisbane, I knew nobody and actually never heard of Brisbane before. It was a spontaneous move with a one way ticket. I got a job offered at a bedding company and decided to give it a go.

Afterwards, I moved to The Netherlands for two and a half years, followed by Bulgaria and a year in Bangkok. To me it’s important to live like a local and to be in touch with locals.

These are five things that helped me integrate into the community while living in foreign countries.

1. Get an apartment outside of the city center

Live like a local

In the center you will often meet tourists and locals that have too much money and often wouldn’t even care talking to you. I noticed that once you move a little bit outside of the city center, people are more open to interact with you and they are happy to hear your story. In Bangkok I lived in a very Thai neighborhood and had to quickly adopt to the Thai lifestyle. An apartment is also a good way to create your own little comfort zone. As much as I love a nice hotel, there is nothing better coming “home” after a long day of exploring a new city! Go With Oh offers apartments in many european cities!

2. Find a your new favorite cafe and bar

It’s great to find new places all the time but you should find a few places where you go regularly. I felt like a local when at my local coffee store I had a loyalty card behind the counter and every time I came to order a coffee, the guys greeted me by my name and had the coffee ready cause they saw me crossing the street outside. In Bangkok the Gin Tonic at my street bar was ready within minutes after arriving and I didn’t have to order it!

3. Eat like a local

Eating in Spain

Find a restaurant outside of the fancy city center where the locals go. Chat with them and make friends, also eat like them. If you are in India, you should start to eat with your hands or when in Asia use the chop sticks. Don’t be afraid of trying new things like insects. Afterwards you can still say that you don’t like it but at least you have tried!

4. Walk everywhere

There is no better way to explore a new city than by getting lost. In Brisbane, I was super jet lagged but arrived in the early morning. I immediately went for a long walk and got lost like never before. But I got to know the city really well within a few weeks.

5. Use public transportation

using trains in the netherlands

If you don’t like to walk that much, use public transportation. It’s a great way to see other parts of the city and to meet locals. Many countries, especially Australia, are very open to talk to strangers. I met some incredible people while driving to work every morning!

What do you do to live like a local? I’m looking forward to read your opinion in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Thanks for all the support from the lovely guys at Go With Oh. They’ve given us a great apartment in Berlin for our Blog Camp before ITB. I love living like a local when traveling and go off the path, therefore all the thoughts and opinions are mine and I just think that these guys offer some great apartments. 

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23 comments on “Live Like A Local: When I actually feel at home!

  1. steve on

    Great tips! Living like a local is so important. A recent work experience provided for the opportunity to spend a month in Spain, while there was a language barrier.. ‘living like a local’ definitely helped to get adjusted. Especially finding a local cafe/bar. Made some friends at the restaurant around the corner from the hotel, great times… 😉

    • sebastian on

      I think having a place where you go regularly is so important to meet people. Also just chatting with the bartender helps me getting adjusted at a new place… most of the times the bartenders introduce you to some of their friends and other locals and after a while you also get some free drinks 🙂

  2. Stephen S. on

    All great tips! I agree I think it is important to try to immerse yourself in a culture. It is one of my favorite things to do while traveling even though I move around a lot more than you do.

    I have been thinking about slowing down and staying in one place for a year so I got my Oz work visa. It’s funny you mentioned Brisbane because that is the place I want to move.

  3. Jill Golding on

    I think it is always a good idea to try and dress like a local – that way you blend in and the local people will respect you more. For example in India, women should not show any cleavages, tummies or legs and men should wear long trousers and avoid tank tops. The local Indian people find our loose dress style very offensive!

  4. Maria on

    Great tips and even if you’re only in a spot for a couple of weeks and stay at a hostel or hotel, ask locals – “Where do you go to meet friends for a drink, meal, special occasion?” and you’ll usually get info on places off the usual trail that’ll give you a window into “what it’s like” during your short stay.

  5. Paul on

    Hit the nail on the head! I’ve been living in Turkey for around 7 months now, and couldn’t help but think of my own story within the context of your tips – middle class neighborhood, store owners I’m friends with, and exploring as much as possible on foot.

    A sixth tip might be to learn the language. Always helpful if you’re traveling in a non-English speaking country.

  6. Ayngelina on

    I have to say an apartment really is the way to go. I had been to London several times but it wasn`t until I got an apartment there for a week that I could really appreciate the city.

  7. Pete on

    So happy to finally meet you and make it to one of your evenings at Blog Camp. The folks at GWO are wonderful and a flat from them is definitely a way to feel more like a local when arriving in a new city. All the best Sebastian 🙂

  8. Annie of TravelShus on

    Cook like a local!! For me, visiting farmers market,s ACTUALLY buying stuff and ACTUALLY using it to make things I’ve tasted at restaurants or seen on menus or in windows is a GREAT way to get to the know the local culture.

    Farmer’s Markets are my favorite way to be local. Im kind of obsessed.

  9. Larissa on

    Staying in apartments is our favorite form of lodging, whether for a week or 6 months. I agree with getting away from the city center–not only will it feel more “real”, it will be less expensive. My husband and I like to frequent the neighborhood shops & cafes, it’s amazing how quickly you start to know the shopkeepers!

  10. Kirsten on

    Great article/tips and agree trying to live as a local is important. Some other tips I try to do is cook. Go to their local markets or supermarkets and prepare foods from that country. Also, and this is big for me, is learning as much of their language or phrases.

  11. Amy Scott on

    Great tips! I have chosen to live in a more “typical” neighborhood in Buenos Aires and it makes all the difference. I’d like to do a better job of frequenting the same places so they know me and what I like, but I also like the variety of trying lots of new places!

  12. Melisa on

    Learning the language is a big one, at least a few key phrases. I think public transportation and walking are great tips too, they help you understand the city better.

  13. farflungtravels on

    I rented a flat in Budapest and now I am hooked on staying home away from home. The owner and his neighbors were my insiders and they were always willing to offer suggests of what to do and where to go that weren’t on the tourist map.

  14. Rob - Hungry Escapades on

    Great tips! We are currently trying to book our first apartment in Mexico and were looking outside the city centre so we could immerse ourselves in the culture. Plus it’s a good money saver.

    I like the idea of being a regular in some place new as well 🙂

  15. Nina @ Where in the World is Nina on

    You just described my life. Hehe. I do all of these things, but sometimes I like living in the main TOWN (maybe not city) just because I’m so close to everything. I can still find very Thai places and go out of town whenever I want. Plus a farang meal here and there is nice! :-p Kaa

  16. Mad Steam on

    I very much live this way. I had an apartment while teaching in Guilin, China. I had an apartment in SiSaKet Thailand, and now I am living in a dorm in Montana for the summer. It is must more than being a tourist. This is where you get to dig down into the bones of the area. Become apart of it. Soon the locals learn your name and wait for your stop for a coffee, your favorite dish or for an activity. For me it is normally swimming. They want to talk to you and you get to work your language skills.