How to Meet People in a New City
Whether we care to admit it or not, we’ve all pictured ourselves in the title sequence of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, roaming around a new city with a big, optimistic smile painted on our faces. Who doesn’t dream of a chance to start fresh in a new place? Cities are full of possibilities: new hobbies, hangouts, and of course, friends! Whether you snagged a spot in the school of your dreams, took a new job offer or were just itching for a change of scenery, there’s a lot to be excited about as you take this big step. Once you pack up the U-Haul and hit the road, though, the reality of a new city can begin to feel daunting. How are you supposed to discover your new favorite hangouts? Even more challenging, how do you meet those new friends?
At school or work
The most obvious way to meet people is possibly the reason you moved in the first place. If you’re getting your MFA in creative writing, then you already have something in common with your classmates. Maybe the guy sitting next to you also loves Nikki Giovanni and would love to discuss “Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day” with you! Similarly, if you moved for a job in the tech world, your co-workers might have also seen that new article in Wired. Even if it’s not usually in your nature to put yourself out there and make small talk, now could be the time to branch out and start the conversation.
Explore the city
During the first couple weeks in your new city, you may have to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do: go to the park by yourself, go out for a drink solo, or even try out a new restaurant alone. You can use apps like AroundMe or Urbanspoon to find great places nearby and take this time to get familiar with your surroundings. While you’re out, strike up a conversation every chance you have. Tell people you’re new in town and ask about local eats or events. Not everyone will be receptive and friendly, but don’t let that discourage you from continuing to put yourself out there and talk to people. Just because your first few interactions don’t resemble Anita and Roger’s clumsy introduction in 101 Dalmatians doesn’t mean you won’t stumble upon your new best friend or soulmate eventually!
Hobbies and Interests
It’s important to continue to pursue your own interests and even pick up new hobbies. If you like to lend a hand, volunteering is a great way to meet others who like to give back to the community. One way to learn about volunteer opportunities around you is to check out volunteermatch. You can also become involved in the church, local politics, or intramural sports. These are all great places to meet people who have similar interests.
The days of eschewing the internet as a way to make friends are over; in fact, it might be one of your best resources because it can help connect to others who are also actively looking for new connections. One of the most popular sites specifically made for meeting new friends is meetup.com, where you can find people in your area who are getting together to do things like bicycling, wine tasting, and networking, to name a few. If you’re looking for something a little more romantic than a casual hangout, there’s no shortage of general and niche dating sites that can help you find your match.
Now that you’ve met a few new people, how do you move from acquaintance to friend? Casual conversation can only go so far, so the next step will take some action on your part. Rather than simply tagging along to happy hour with your co-workers or bicycling with a big meetup group, you can ask people to get together outside of the bigger group. Stay up-to-date on fun events happening in your area and invite one of your acquaintances to tag along to that Zumba class or open mic night you have your eye on. Even if they don’t turn out to be a great friend, you can repeat this process until you do find the people you click with. Meeting people isn’t a quick or easy process, but with a little persistence and an open-mind to new experiences, you’ll eventually begin to find some great friends and feel at home in your new surroundings.