Guest Blog: Close to home – Use your iPhone to make the most of your new neighborhood

May 11, 2011
Real estate

I moved from Boulder, Colorado, to Portland, Oregon, at the end of last year. Being brand new to town, at first I relied on recommendations from friends for places to eat, drink, and be merry. However, at some point, the responsibility was my own to find my way around, and that’s when I discovered some […]

I moved from Boulder, Colorado, to Portland, Oregon, at the end of last year. Being brand new to town, at first I relied on recommendations from friends for places to eat, drink, and be merry. However, at some point, the responsibility was my own to find my way around, and that’s when I discovered some really handy apps for navigating a new city.

While these served me well as a new resident to the Pacific Northwest, there’s a bonus! These apps are great for travelers who find themselves in a any new city and want the inside scoop.

For those of you who’ve got green living at the top of your mind, an added bonus: when you’ve selected a neighborhood because you know it’s full of good stuff, you can decrease your driving time and need for a car by living somewhere within walking distance of food and fun.

So, how do you know what food, shopping, and entertainment are close to home in your new place? These apps are a great place to start.

Food-finders and location-based recommendation engines

There are a wide variety of apps available for helping you find nearby restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Of those, my favorites are Urbanspoon, Google Places, Bizzy (more on this one in a minute), and Yelp. These apps show reviews and allow you to sort by category, whether it’s type of cuisine, restaurant or coffee shop.

Beyond the restaurant-finders, here’s another great app for discovering what’s local in your new neck of the woods:

Locavore (Free)

You can be in-the-know about what’s in season in your area with this app, as well as be ready for what’s coming up. Even better? When you wonder just what you’re supposed to do with rutabagas and leeks, there’s a recipes section with in-season ingredients, as well as in-season-soon ingredients, so you’re ready to try new veggies that are local to your hometown. Love the social side of things? The “I ate local” feature allows you to essentially “check in” when you do eat local.

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Plan your farmers’ market trips accordingly!

Speaking of Farmers’ Markets…

Farmers’ Market Finder (Free)

Apparently here in Portland, there’s a farmers’ market every single day of the week during the summer, across different parts of the city. I know I live right next to the biggest one, the PSU Portland Farmers’ Market, but what if I want fresh produce on a day that’s not Saturday? Beyond letting you know what’s close to home, this app also has recipe suggestions and a shopping list.

Shopping

Whole Foods

For grocery needs I can’t find at the farmers’ markets, I shop at Whole Foods. The Whole Foods app not only includes a location-finder and grocery list section but has a great, comprehensive recipe bank that you can search by ingredient as well as what you have on hand.

Target

Target is the first place I start shopping when I move to a new city. Here’s where you find all of the necessary cleaning supplies, bed and bath products, and organizational and decorative pieces to make your house – or apartment – your home.

Entertainment

The obvious apps for good entertainment finds would be movie apps like Fandango. While those are great for finding where to hit up a theater, there are other forms of entertainment and ways of creating your new social life – and these apps are my favorites for doing that.

Bizzy

Bizzy’s a great app for finding all kinds of local goodies, including food and shopping, but also entertainment, nightlife and sporting events. As you check out and discover favorite places in your new city, keep tabs on what you love and don’t love by checking out and reviewing each place you visit. Bizzy takes that information and offers recommendations based on where you’ve been and what you’ve noted that you like and don’t like. This is a great way to keep up with what you have tried, as well as find new places you might’ve otherwise missed.

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Meetup

A great way to make new friends in a new city is to join a Meetup group with others who share an interest. In Portland, I’ve joined a few startup, tech, and social media groups and have met people that have since become business connections and/or personal friends. The app is an extension of Meetup.com, sends reminders for meetups in your areas of interest, and helps you locate the meetup on the day it happens.

Transportation

Zipcar

If you’re moving to a big city and are looking to nix the car ownership thing, you’ve got to check out Zipcar. Zipcar is a national car-sharing program with a small yearly fee and then hourly rates for car rentals. They’re EVERYWHERE in Portland, as well as other major cities, and the app is instrumental in locating available cars nearby as well as making and editing reservations.

Public Transportation

Many cities’ public transportation options now have apps, including Denver Rail (free), Chicago’s myTransit ($0.99), and Exit Strategy NYC ($3.99). Apps for local public transportation can help you plan your route, find nearby bus and train lines, and locate a schedule for you.

View Doniree Walker’s Appolicious app library here.

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Doniree Walker

Doniree Walker is a yogini, blogger, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon. She loves wine, cheese plates, travel, connecting with people, and crossing things off of her life list. She's currently pouring herself into learning how to cook from scratchlive with intention, rock self-employment, and how to navigate all of Portland's Farmers' Markets.

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