This week, contributor Zina talks about her recent move to a new city. I’ve moved across country a few times, and even had to deal with meeting friends in a new city myself, I wish I’d had her advice!
In the last year, I’ve gotten married, moved to a new state and started working for myself. The last two things happened in the past two weeks. Needless to say, I’ve started over. Starting over is exciting and anxiety-producing. So far I’m settling into a routine, adjusting to my new high-altitude setting and finding my bearings.
One of the hardest parts of moving is finding and making new friends. I’m admittedly not very good at this. I get self-conscious about reaching out to people and I keep finding ways to get out of it.
That being said, once I get going, I’m an extrovert. I get my energy from being around people. Now that I don’t have coworkers, finding friends is even more important.
Here’s what I’ve learned about what to do when you start over:
If you want to meet someone, whether it’s for a romantic or platonic connection, going online is a great idea. Where else can you find a diverse group of people who also want to make new friends?
Meetup.com is a great resource for people like me. Groups are divided by age, sex, and interest. They range from people who like to eat Sushi to people who own dachshunds. Denver, where I live now, has a particularly active Meetup community. I joined about 30 groups before I decided that was plenty.
The best part is that there’s no obligation to show up. If you’re busy or don’t feel up to it, no one will bug you. But if you do go, you know that everyone there wants to meet new people too.
Again, this is like dating. Once you’ve reached a certain point in the relationship, it’s time to share your friends. This was actually my husband’s idea. He said that if I end up becoming friends with someone, I should try to meet their friends. That way, I find a group of people to hang out with.
Sometimes it can feel awkward to invite yourself to a group outing, especially with a tight-knit circle. But you can just frame it that you’d love to meet more people. Most of us are happy to invite someone we already like to meet our friends.
If you’re not a normally outgoing person, forcing yourself to say hi to strangers can be a daunting prospect. But it’s important to practice being friendly. I try to make small comments to people walking their dogs or someone waiting in line at the coffee shop.
I’m not trying to make everyone my best friend, but the more you practice chatting people up, the more natural it’ll feel. That way, when you do meet someone you want to befriend, you’ll feel less awkward.
Unlike dating, you probably don’t want to hook up with your neighbor. But neighbors can be a great way to make friends. There’s no distance boundary to keep you two from meeting up and you already have an icebreaker. Try bringing a plate of brownies over if you haven’t met each other. Even if you don’t become great friends, being friendly with your neighbors can make your living situation more pleasant.