Moving to a new city alone is scary — no doubt about it. With that said, there are ways to make it a smooth transition. Start by setting up your digital accounts — online banking, etc — and checking out the social scene online. Once you get into town, befriend a social butterfly and follow his or her lead. And don’t forget to keep doing what you already love to do in your new town. All this should help you feel connected and settled sooner.
I’m 25 and I’ve lived in four different cities since graduating high school. What I’ve found is — as with most things in life — a little planning goes a long way. Planning is the first step toward making your move to a new city a lot easier.
Tip #1: Go Digital
Get your life as digital as possible. Physical mail irks me to the core: It takes forever to send and receive, it gets lost, and it’s expensive. That’s why I do as much business as possible online. Before moving to a new city, set up things like online banking, online bill pay, online everything. This will make moving a whole lot easier — simply because there won’t be as much to redo upon arrival.
Tip #2: Check the Social Scene Online
Without a doubt, making friends is the hardest part of moving to a new city. Especially after college, many people find it hard to make friends. Before moving to a new city, make some friends online. Here are a few sites to visit:
Aptly named, this site allows you to find out about local groups that are meeting up. The groups range from young entrepreneurs to retirees. Surely, you’ll find at least a few groups you’re interested in. Even before you move to a new city, reach out to people on this site. Most people are giddy to help plug you into their beloved city.
Forums are one of my favorite ways to connect with a new city. Google “city” + “forum” and see what pops up. If there are too many results, narrow it down by your interests. If you’re an expat, add “expat” to the query. Forums are useful, even if you only lurk and never post. You’ll also get lots of notices for “in real life” meetups.
This definitely falls into the dating site category, but you can create a profile and set it to “looking for friends.” Keep in mind, you’ll mostly get messages from people of the opposite sex. If you’re cool with that, this site is definitely for you. It’s a great way to meet tons of people in a hurry. (The site is very well-designed, which is a bonus.)
This is a fantastic way to get a look at local events. Many events are free and there will be tons of people in attendance who don’t know each other. It’s an easy way to meet new people without feeling like the only outsider in the room.
Tip #3: Map out Your New City
Before I go to a new city, I like to poke around on Google Maps. See what grocery stores are in your area, look at the running paths, and scope out tasty looking restaurants. I also like using Yelp. Consider this your way of virtual “nesting.”
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Tip #4: Befriend One or Two Strategic Friends
This is such a fantastic tip someone clued me in on a few weeks ago. Instead of playing the numbers game, find just one or two friends. But he or she can’t be just any type of friend. He should be the type of friend with 5,000+ friends on Facebook. Why? Because he will plug you into the social network of your city faster than you could ever do it yourself. Simply tell him you’re new in town and he will love hooking you up. He will invite you to the parties, introduce you to like-minded people, and probably always want to set you up on dates.
How do you find Mr. Facebook? Try your alma mater. Contact your college and ask if any alums live in your new city. For a simpler approach, look around and see who always seems to be surrounded by people. If you work at a large company, head over to the sales department (salespeople tend to be very social) and see what’s happening. (This is most effective when done on Friday afternoons.)
Bonus tip: After you move, always tell people you’re new to the city. It’s a great conversation starter and it may lead to great things. Beware: Be smart and safe when disclosing you’re new in town.
Tip #5: Don’t Forget What You Already Enjoy
Just because you’re moving to a new city doesn’t mean you have to give up your old routine. Do normal things in your new city. If you went to a local gym to exercise, do the same in your new city. If you would normally go cycling on the weekends, keep it up in your new hometown.
Before you embark on your new city adventure, set up your online accounts and check out the social scene online. Once you arrive, strategically befriend a social butterfly and follow his or her lead. And don’t forget to do what you already love to do — no matter where you call home.
If life in a new city begins to overwhelm you, it’s okay to take a step back. That’s how humans work through social discomfort the best: Advance, then retreat. Advance, then retreat. Moving to a new city alone is a marathon, not a sprint.
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