Moving to a new city on your own can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. It takes courage to put yourself out there, but it's important to embrace the opportunity, and trying new things is the only true way to grow. Here are a few ways to chase that “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” feeling when you’re somewhere new.
Make friends beforehand
Let your friends and family know that you're moving to a new town and ask if they have any connections there. These people may not end up being your best friends, but they will definitely be a good resource when you’re starting out and getting acquainted. They can offer you some tips about safe neighborhoods, good restaurants, cool bars or other places you’ll want to discover. And of course there's always the modern choice: the Internet. While you can post about your move on Facebook to get the word out, there are also websites like InterPals, an online pen pal forum, that can be a great place to start. Before you move, you can begin to chat to people in that city to get a good feel for it, and you may end up with a new friend.
This is one of the best ways to get to know a city and make friends. Jump into your new life by volunteering, taking a class at the local university, joining the local chapter of a professional organization, alumnae group or intramural sport, or even joining a gym (ditch the headphones and take that Zumba class instead). Doing activities you love with new people is an easy way to connect with like-minded individuals.
Pick a new spot
Whether it’s a public library, coffee shop, local bar or park, having a place where you’re counted a regular makes your new home seem less scary. This step is all about creating a home for yourself in your new place. You will get to know the other regulars, and can join them in side-eyeing that noisy group of teenagers at the next table. And speaking of a new spot, when you're apartment hunting, check and see if your apartment complex has socials for new residents. This is a sure-fire way to make new friends, because no one wants to connect more than a bunch of new faces in a new city.
Learn the history
Understanding why that major intersection is named after some Austrian guy, finally understanding a local idiom, or finding out there’s actually a name for that funky accent you keep hearing might lead you to a deeper knowledge of the city itself. Neighborhoods where a particular cultural group traditionally resides might start to make a bit of sense. It’s a good way to ground yourself in the city’s traditions and have some new experiences. Pro tip: it also makes you sound more informed when people from back home visit.
This is the time to find your new favorites and have some adventures. Find the list of the top 10 bars in the city, and challenge yourself to hit them all in your first two months. Go on a quest to find the best Mexican restaurant. Discover the top clubs and go dance the night away. Pick your new favorite art museum or fall in love with a local musical act. This will help to make the city your own, and the more you explore, the better chance you have of finding your niche.
While moving to a new city can be daunting, the best thing to remember is that settling takes time. Give yourself time to explore, make new friends and become a familiar face. You'll be feeling like a local in no time.