Moving from a small town, suburb, or large city to the beautiful gulf beaches of Florida can be an intimidating proposition. Here are a few tips to help make your move as painless as possible.

Research before you move. It’s important to understand the culture you’re joining. Do research online and find out about school systems, neighborhoods, parking, weather, public transportation, and laws that are native to that area. If you can, visit a city before moving and connect with someone who’s lived there before.

Have a plan. There are a lot of steps to go through before you start packing the moving truck. Find housing before you leave, or at least know where you’ll stay while you look for a home. Never sign a lease on an apartment that you haven’t seen. If you can’t get there, find a friend or an employer to check for you. Have a job waiting for you, or if that’s not possible, know what you’ll do for money in the first few weeks of living there. Try to line up things like driver’s licenses, car insurance, renter’s insurance, and parking passes ahead of time as well.

Get involved. Meeting people in a new community can be daunting. But neighbors here are friendly and may just knock on your door with a casserole when you arrive. If not take the initiative. If there are things you liked to do in your town, find ways to do those things in your new town. Volunteer. Englewood, Venice, Port Charlotte offer so many opportunities to engage people, so find what you like.