The context for this question is the same as this related question about spending time in town, but I am looking for sufficiently different advice so I thought it warranted its own question.
I've been with the group for 15 years. We enjoy roleplaying but have a hard time finding opportunities to do so. My group has been running the same set of characters for about 4 years now, going through the main line of published 4th edition modules (H1-E3) which are obviously extremely combat-heavy and are basically dungeon crawls. The characters are epic-level now.
I'm taking over as GM soon, and will be spending a few sessions in town. Previous GMs have fast-forwarded through the between-quest downtime, basically narrating what happens in town so we can get on with the next adventure. I want the characters to spend some real time there, and make the town an actual place that the characters are invested in instead of just a vending machine to buy magic items. I've talked to the players about this and they're unanimous in wanting more of a roleplaying experience in town.
How do I help the players make this transition when they have been so combat-focused for so long? How can I signal to them that this is a time to roleplay, to explore and seek out opportunities instead of just waiting for me to tell them exactly what happens?
Since I am GMing for the first time in about 10 years I am looking for tips to help foster those opportunities without handing them out on a silver platter. I want the players to shape their own world, not just color inside the lines that I've drawn ahead of time.