We all have those friends from high school and college that have been there through the good times and the bad. From those first date recaps to breakups over a tub of ice cream, to all-nighter study sessions, to those wild nights that you only remember because there’s picture proof. As you cross into adulthood, you’ll notice just how special those friendships are. Or maybe even how special they aren’t and that you need to “defriend” some people.
As we get older, we get content with our circle of friends and rarely feel the need to expand it. That is until a great opportunity comes along that takes you to a new city. Whether it’s for a job, a spouse, or just the sudden urge to experience a change of scenery. There’s plenty of reasons people move, and a big downside to moving is having to leave behind your friends.
I was about 8 weeks into my second pregnancy, with an almost-one-year-old at home, when I found out we were going to be moving across the country for my husband’s job. To say I was conflicted would be an understatement. I was so excited to experience a new city and state, as I had only known one most of my life. But at the same time, I was terrified because most of my friends and family were always nearby in that city I’d called home for over 2 decades.
Fast-forward to a year later. I’d had my second child, and I was just getting settled and comfortable getting out to meet people in our new city. Then, we found out we were moving, AGAIN! This time it was across the country from the south to the north, which was a totally different environment than I was used to. But this time, I was mostly excited. I figured if we’ve already left everyone we knew in our home state, what’s another move to another city where we don’t know a soul. Through all of these major life changes, I’ve learned to embrace this season and focus on myself and my family. Part of focusing on myself includes attempting to maintain some kind of social life. Here are some tips I’ve picked up on making friends in a new city.
Whatever it is that you like to do, find a group of like-minded people in your area to share your passion with. If you like to exercise, join a gym, a walking club, or take some group classes. If you are passionate about your career, join a young professionals group, or an association that relates to your area of work. Bookworms, join a book club. Artists, get involved in your local art community. If you want to help others, volunteer somewhere. There are plenty of options for almost every area of interest, and this is a great starting point to find new friends that you know have similar interests.
Growing up, some of the people I interacted the most with, besides my schoolmates, were the neighborhood kids. We wouldn’t even go inside when we got home from school. Instead, we would hop out of the car and go run around with the other kids until it got dark out. Not everyone is social, especially nowadays, so when you move into a new place, you might have to make the first move to meet your neighbors. If you see them outside, even if they’re avoiding eye contact, make an effort to say hi and introduce yourself. It’ll make future encounters much easier once you know their name and can have simple conversations when you cross paths. You probably won’t be playing kickball in the street with your neighbors as we did as kids, but maybe they’ll have something in common that you can share over wine nights or get-togethers.
Don’t roll your eyes at me. It’s 2019, and if you don’t think social media is a good platform to meet people you never would have been otherwise, then you’re not using it to its fullest potential. For the first time ever, in the history of human existence, we can pick up a little electronic device, and have a full on conversation with someone halfway across the world! Could you imagine what your ancestors would have thought if you told them that?
Social media certainly has its flaws, but there are so many positive ways that it can be used beyond just double tapping pretty pictures. You can use it to find local friends in your new area. Think of a hobby or topic that interests you, then go on Facebook or Instagram and do a quick search with the name of your city and your hobby. Chances are, there’s already a group of people that get together to talk about, or do, whatever that hobby is. And now you can be one of them! And if there’s not a group, you should create one.
Tip: As great as social media can be, remember to use your best judgment if you decide to meet someone online. Always meet in a public place, and don’t put yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable or seems shady.
This is the biggest piece of advice I have for anyone moving to a new city. And it’s obviously one of the hardest tips to follow. But if you do this, you will most likely have plenty of success making new friends wherever you move. If you’re like me, then you would prefer to stay home, order Postmates, and hang on the couch while watching Netflix. Then, every so often, you get to go out with your friends and have a good time and good conversation.
Well, when you move somewhere new, it’s easy to get sucked into only binging movies and food, and forgetting about the good conversation with friends part. But eventually, it will hit you that you need those friendships to get you through the week sometimes. So, get out of your comfort zone, take some risks, and make an effort to socialize and meet new people.
Of course, you’ll always have your “old friends” from back home that are just a call or text away. But with potential time zone obstacles and the busyness of life, it’ll be nice having some local friends to hang or chat with in person whenever you need to.
Written by Kirsten Otte, Founder of Simply Otte, a lifestyle and parenting blog
One For Women is honored to have Kirsten Otte, Founder of Simply Otte, a lifestyle and parenting blog, share her voice and her important message as part of our One Voice to Hear series.