5 Tips for Settling Into a New City (Even If You Don't Know Anyone)

5 Tips for Settling Into a New City (Even If You Don't Know Anyone)

Abby Stone
Oct 9, 2014
(Image credit: Sarah Rose PR)

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 at 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, where you might know only one or two people — if any — sets in, it can be a little nerve-wracking. It's one thing to be in a new place for a week or two — that's all about being a tourist, living the high life.

Publicist Sarah Rose Attman recently up and moved from Los Angeles to DC. 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:

Say yes to everything. You need either all or some of the following life essentials in your new city: friends, a BFF, a boyfriend/ girlfriend, and a job. You won't find these by sitting at home and ordering delivery while 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. We're not in college anymore. 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 friend for you. Scour Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and whatever other social media you're on and find out who from your network lives in town. You might be surprised.

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. 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 6 months, stay somewhere comfortable. You are in a new city, it's all strange and unfamiliar. You don't know where CVS or the grocery store are or who your BFF will be. You don't know the good neighborhoods from the okay neighborhoods from the bad 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.

Have any tips on how to get comfortable in a new place? Share in the comments!

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