Moving to a new city can be really daunting, be it for university, a new job, with family, or a partner! There is a lot to it, so I’ve decided to make this a two-parter. This one is about the social aspects of moving — the next one will be more on the domestic side of things.
You may well think that it is primarily about making friends, but moving into a new city is more than that. Typically, you need to get to know the place before you’ll meet anyone — and then, meeting people is mostly incidental. Immersing yourself in a city is a slow process.
I read that it typically takes anywhere from a year to two years to feel properly at home in a new city. There are so many little things that take their toll on you, like knowing where the good coffee or bagels are. However realising that the whole point of moving somewhere new is that life is DIFFERENT! You need to find new food, new activities, new ways of interacting with people.
Moving to a new city is really exciting but you will face a lot of challenges before you feel really at home. Here are some things I know of which can make the process a little easier!
Bookmark local blogs from your new city.
Or better yet, hook them into your RSS reader. This is a great way to get to know more about your new city, you will hear about events, bloggers also tend to talk about where they go for things! It’s also great to comment, who knows they could be a new friend! Facebook is also good for this, as is twitter. Tag your local city in tweets and see what comes up, same with facebook – look for events going on in your area – get immersed!
Go for long walks
As often as you can bear it, put on a pair of good shoes and go for a walk. Not a piddly walk around the block, I mean at least 45 minutes on foot. It doesn’t matter whether you go alone or with your lover, you just need to go out with the intention of exploring. There is no better way to get to understand the geography of your city and to find the little hidden places.
Google for “free events <your city>”
I have done so many things this way — opera in a park, trapeze lessons, gay and lesbian festivals, rubber ducky races, etc. Most cities, especially over the summer months, have absolute piles of free events on and they are worth taking advantage of. A lot of locals don’t even think about free events, so if you go along with positive intentions you’ll probably find that you meet some new people.
Make the effort to drag yourself out of the house
It’s easy to hate everything and shrink into the couch with a steely resolve to watch every episode of House ever created. Don’t do it! Put on some sunglasses and leave the house, even if it’s just to visit your local coffee shop or buy a sandwich. The more time you spend in your city, the better you will feel in it.
Even when you feel wretched and can’t stand the idea of meeting new people, you should always say “yes”. (I have yet to learn this one myself.) The people you initially go with might end up boring as hell, but you might meet one of their friends who totally turns your crank, you might go to a party full of amazing people or you’ll stumble across a bar that you absolutely love.
Moving to a new city with your partner is a good, safe way to go — you have each other to lean on, which is so, so good. You will find it challenging at times, but mostly you will be thrilled to come home and have someone who understands you. However, if you constantly go out together, you’ll find that your social interactions are mostly with each other.
Take classes and go to clubs
I know you’ve said this doesn’t work, but try it with a different focus. Take a class in something you really love and do it for that reason, rather than with the intention of making friends. If you make a friend, that’ll just be a bonus.
Pick up flyers & leaflets & keep an eye on what is going on on your city
Going to some good gigs will make you feel much better about your city. Another thing you can do is get involved with an events group — there are often collectives of fine young things who put on bands, shows, publish magazines, etc. If you can hitch your wagon to them (offer to write for them, do website design, whatever), they often have great contacts and know where all the good parties are. Do some facebook sleuthing for this kind of thing.
Don’t be nervous about asking people to have a coffee or a drink — everyone likes to feel socially desirable and you will find that most of the time, they’ll be thrilled to accept.
Now go out and get ’em!
(All images sources available by clicking on the picture themselves)