6 Tips for Moving to a New City (Even If You Don’t Know Anyone)

updated Aug 29, 2021
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I love the idea of packing up and moving to a new city. I’m a freelancer so that’s one of the perks of my job, right? Have laptop, will travel; I can work — and live — anywhere. But when you’ve actually moved to a new place, especially if you’re someone who works from home and doesn’t have the opportunity to meet new people at work, how do you get things going?

As exciting as it sounds, when the reality of moving to a new place sets in, it can be a little nerve-wracking. That’s especially true if you only know one or two people — or, gulp, no people.

Publicist Sarah Rose Attman recently up and moved from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Within weeks, she was sending me pictures of the dinner party she had for two dozen people. What?! How did she manage to meet so many new people so quickly? Here’s how. Ahead, find six tips for moving to a new city.

Say yes to everything.

You’ll probably want a few of the following life essentials in your new city: some friends, a BFF, a romantic partner, and a job. You won’t find these by sitting at home, ordering take-out, and watching Bravo. Get out there! Go to everything people invite you to. Remind yourself that you are on a mission to find these life essentials.

Ask to be set up on friend dates… or date dates.

Welcome to the way grown-ups make friends. Ask your BFFs in your current city if they know anyone in your new city. Ask your family if they know anyone who might be a nice pal for you. Scour Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever other social media you’re on to find out who from your network lives in town. You might be surprised at what you find.

Join organized groups.

From nonprofit volunteering to kickball leagues, even if you don’t normally consider yourself a joiner, joining something is a way to meet new peeps. Start with a hobby and find a group to sign up for. Even better: find something you’ve never done before. Being a beginner is a great way to connect with other people who are also beginning. You feel awkward, they feel awkward — bingo: new friend.

For your first six months, stay somewhere comfortable.

You are in a new city, so it’s all strange and unfamiliar. You don’t know where CVS or the grocery store is, or who your best pal will be. You don’t know the good neighborhoods from the okay neighborhoods. You don’t know the secret side streets to cut around traffic. You don’t know the cool bars, the cool restaurants, or where the best farmer’s market is. So instead of adding to the stress, I encourage you to stay somewhere comfortable for your first chunk of time while you get used to your surroundings.

“Comfortable” means something different to everyone. For me, it meant splurging on a temporary apartment in a pricey area where I feel really safe and free to explore my surroundings. For you, it might mean living with a friend or relative temporarily even though you know that long-term you want to be living alone.

Give yourself a year to acclimate.

Anytime you start thinking “OMG, this was a huge mistake!,” “I was so stupid for thinking this was a good idea!” or “I’m never going to like living here and I’m going to die alone!” — and, trust me, it will happen — remind yourself that things are still in transition, moving is hard, and you are giving yourself until you have a year under your belt before making any overarching judgements on the move.

Don’t forget about your friends and your network from your former city.

You have it easier — you left. I’ve always believed that the “mover” has it easier than the person left behind. You’re out exploring a new city, having new adventures, learning new things. Your old pals are in their same routine and probably missing you. Don’t forget about them. Make an effort to keep in touch and to go back and visit from time to time. Yes, it will be hard — you’re not sharing all of their day to day adventures and even a small time difference call be awkward — but soon enough things will fall into place.