Moving to a New City? An Immersion Checklist

Moving to a new city is hard.

New location, new home, new job, new friends, new coffee shops, new mailman, new weather, new supermarkets, new everything. Especially as adults, it’s challenging to fully immerse yourself in new locations.

It’s been hard for me too. But, as I travel around the US, I’m getting better at it. I’ve learned some reliable heuristics to connect with others and build my metaphorical “home.” I hope these suggestions help others feel more connected to their city.

Quick Suggestion: An “Interest List”

I recommend that you start by brainstorming a list of 5–10 interests, hobbies, and skills that you have or want to develop. Could be anything — chess, running, or mushroom foraging. If you don’t have at least five, pick some new hobbies you might be interested in learning. We’ll call this list the “Interest List.”

1) Events

I use events as a way to bond with new friends I meet — it’s a great way to further the friendship by doing something fun and unusual together.

  • Google Search “[City] Concerts” and “[City] Festivals”
  • Browse Eventbrite’s lists of events (I filter by “Free”)
  • Subscribe to city event blogs, like Thrillist, or Google Search for local city event blogs.
  • Google Search for events that match your Interest List.

2) Use Your Network

  • Post on Facebook that you’re in the new city — let your old friends know!
  • Use a high school or college alumni database (or join a local alumni Facebook group) to find people who would be willing to grab coffee and welcome you.
  • Make a list of other affiliations you have — are you an Eagle Scout? A veteran? See if your affiliations have local organizations.

3) Volunteer

In general, for volunteering, I find opportunities that cater to my interests and skill sets. For instance, I have served as a Suicide Hotline Counselor for two years because I’m passionate about mental health and want to develop my active listening skills.

  • Sign up for events that match your Interest List on VolunteerMatchHabitat for Humanity, and other organizations you may be interested in.
  • Check for nearby locations that may need disaster relief help. For example, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida need lots of hands to help with hurricane damage.

4) Classes

Are you interested in learning a new skill? There might be a class for it!

  • Find classes based on your Interest List.
  • Check out the local community college catalog and see if anything piques your interest.
  • Dabble is a new startup that categorizes local hobby classes.

5) Religion

  • If you’re religious, joining a local community can be a fantastic way to quickly integrate into a community. Religious congregations are often very friendly and welcoming.
  • If you’re not religious, there may be similar local religious communities that are open to your particular set of beliefs. Some popular groups include American Atheists and The American Humanist Association.

6) Interest-based Meetups

  • Meetup.com is probably the primary way I make new friends in each new city. Browse the local Meetup groups that match your Interest List, or just check the popular groups in your area.
  • Join local Facebook Groups that match your interests — sometimes they have social events. For instance, as a minimalist, I join the local Minimalist Facebook Groups in each new city.
  • Check your local library for any book clubs. This is a great way to meet thoughtful people and have some deeper, philosophical conversations.

7) Apps

  • Shapr is a networking app that can be used to make friends in new cities.
  • Dating apps are good for single people — Coffee Meets BagelTinderBumble, and Hinge are all good ones to start with.

8) Be Open

At the end of the day, the most important quality is being open to new experiences and new people. When attending these events, remember that most people are friendly and want to get to know you, too. Ask questions, smile, and be confident, even outside these events. Who knows, your grocery cashier or mailman could be a great person to watch Rick and Morty with next Sunday.

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