6 Ways to Meet People in a New City
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” – Helen Keller
They say isolation is the hallway to destruction. I am a very sociable person, so loneliness was one of my biggest concerns when I decided to move across the country and expand my business. I knew I needed to make a tremendous effort that would help me meet new people and adjust in an unfamiliar city. But I was up for the challenge. When I was looking for places to live, I bounced back and forth between the idea of renting a house versus moving into an apartment. Although a house would have made sense for someone with three dogs, I knew that it would be more difficult to meet people if I did not purposely surround myself with others. After thoroughly researching my options, I decided to go with Post Properties, as they typically gravitate to more urban areas and tend to attract the young professional crowd. This was hands down the best decision I have made. But it is not the only one I credit with the abundance of new people I’ve encountered since relocating. If you’ve recently moved or are planning to move to a new city, here are my top six tips to help you position yourself to meet the right people.
1. Opt for an apartment or condo. Unlike a single family residence, an apartment complex offers numerous opportunities for encounters with new people. Ask the property manager if they host monthly social events and look for complexes with communal amenities such as gyms or pools where other residents are likely to gather.
2. Consider a roommate. If you haven’t lived with a roommate since college or you’ve been living by yourself for several years, you may not like the idea of sharing your space with another person. However, if you’re moving to a new city where you don’t know a soul, I urge you to at least consider a roommate. I originally moved into my apartment solo, but signed a lease for a two-bedroom so that my friends and family would have a place to stay when they visited. After two months of living alone, I was approached by a new friend who was looking for a new living situation and needed a roommate. At first, I was nervous. But it only took about a week for me to recognize that I’d made the right decision. My roommate and I encourage each other to work out, explore new places, and I always have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of. Since moving in with someone you don’t know can be risky, I strongly recommend that you do your homework before taking on a roommate. In my case I got extremely lucky and scored a friend of a friend as a roommate. Ask around. You never know who you know that could know somebody amazing. Also, make sure to have a discussion with your future roomie about your lifestyle, habits, and expectations for a roommate. While the two of you don’t need to be exactly alike, you don’t want to end up in a situation where the person is overly wild or messy or everything they do gets on your nerves. If you communicate with the person properly and agree on the important things, there is no reason why the living arrangement shouldn’t work out.
3. Be neighborly. A great apartment complex won’t do you any good if you’re a hermit and don’t make an effort to get to know your neighbors. Introduce yourself. Bake a dessert and drop it off, or initiate a conversation when your paths cross. Typically, you’ll fit right in with people who share common interests. I have met all kinds of new people while grilling out in the common area and watching football outside on Sundays. Shared dinners with my neighbors are becoming more of a tradition, and nothing beats a last minute text from a neighbor to come over and enjoy a glass of wine.
4. Become a groupie. You know all of those activities that you enjoy? Start doing them in groups. Enjoy running? Sign up for a running club. Want to improve your public speaking? Look up a local Toastmasters club. Hoping to be a better cook? Enroll in cooking classes. This is a great way to surround yourself with like-minded people while doing the things that you love. For me, horseback riding at The Balance Point Equestrian Learning Center has been a great experience. They even invited me to the ranch to ride on Christmas Day which was very kind. I am also looking forward to photography classes and tennis lessons this year. Put yourself out there and do the things you love (with others).
5. Rescue a dog. Dogs not only provide you with security and friendship they are an instant source of conversation. I couldn’t imagine not going on long walks or play dates with my dogs. Having the companionship of a pet will definitely ease the loneliness of living in a new place. In addition to constant companionship, pets are great conversation starters. Remember that young and happening apartment complex you moved into? I guarantee there will be lots of young people outside walking their dogs there. Most people adore their pets and love talking about them to anyone who will listen. Open that door and you’ll no doubt find yourself chatting about your four legged loved ones. While pets can certainly add value to your life and enhance relationships, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that adopting an animal is a lifelong commitment. If you are not prepared to take on that responsibility, do not take it on. If you think you want a pet, but recognize that you’re not in a position to adopt one, you can get your “fix” by volunteering at a local shelter or even fostering a pet as a short trial period to see what it would be like.
6. Sit at the bar or a shared table. Whether you are alone or with another person, I recommend sitting at the bar or a shared table versus an isolated booth. Some of my best conversations in Austin have been initiated by sitting at the bar, so no matter the venue – restaurant, sports bar, or a local coffee shop – I always try to choose a seat that welcomes conversation with other guests. I have found that the city of Austin is full of active young professionals, which makes attracting people with common interests much easier.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. There is a whole world of people out there to meet. As we grow, I believe that we tend to attract (and are attracted to people) who fit our current life situation. In a short period of time, I have made lifelong friends in a brand new city, which was exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Remember that you don’t need to move across the country to make new friends; you might be on vacation or just going about your day in your hometown. Keep an open mind and look for opportunities to form new relationships and enhance the ones you already have.