I’m moving to a new city alone. How do I stay social?
I am moving to a new city on my own for a year of placement. It’s quite rough so I’m worried not only about moving somewhere new on my own (and feeling isolated from my friends), but also about safety and that I can’t escape by going for walks alone as a woman. Any advice for moving and tips for managing to stay social?
I’m eight months into life on a new coast—and these are my struggles, too.
Both my husband and I had spent nearly our entire lives in New Jersey and New York. In late fall of 2020, an opportunity brought us to the central coast of California. While we were (and are still) excited about experiencing warm days year-round, the one hesitation we had was around leaving our friends and family.
It’s been tough to make new friends during a pandemic (making friends as an adult is hard enough to begin with), but I’ve figured out a delicate balance. Hopefully this will help you, too.
First, roommates and coworkers can sometimes turn into close friends. We spend the majority of our days communicating with those nearest to us, so it’s natural to find common ground, connect, and even (appropriately) vent with one another. Maybe you’re not the only one in a year-long rotation, and you can learn from other co-workers who are in the same position.
Whoever you’re interested in pursuing a friendship with, begin establishing common interests. For example, a coworker of mine loves the same musical artist I do. Ease into those chances to connect and let the friendship organically grow from there. Be appropriate and proactive—I asked my coworker to go to a concert this fall with me for said artist—but don’t force a connection if it doesn’t feel right. From there, try to deepen the friendship intentionally, going past the surface-level questions.
If coworker- or roommate-turned-friend isn’t an option for you, seek out interest groups in your area—made easier with one of these apps. I personally joined local Facebook swap groups; not only did I find people who love thrifting too, but I also found a membership of 25,000+ people in the area who share relevant news and updates, like makers’ markets to check out. Maybe for you, that’s a book club hosted by a local indie bookshop, a roller-blading community that meets on Saturday mornings, or nearby meetups to practicar tu español. Those commonalities alone can help establish a foundation for friendship.
And don’t forget your existing friendships! The silver lining of moving in a pandemic was knowing I’d still have my friends cross-country, because we’d all remained close virtually through a year of lockdown.
Even though my loved ones are now in different time zones and we’re all experiencing various life changes, we make it work by establishing communication routines; I have a friend who I can expect texts from around 5PM my time when she’s winding down, and I have another with whom I schedule FaceTime dates.
Lean into those relationships especially—the fulfilling ones that are easy to maintain. Can you create a schedule for yourself to touch base? Or set reminders to check in every so often? My colleague Emily shares some first-hand advice on nurturing and maintaining those long-distance friendships.
Plus, the very best part of moving somewhere new—for me at least—is acting as a host! Depending on where you are, budget, and pandemic risk levels, some friends may be happy to come see you and your new life. If you are also near a major metropolitan area that you know loved ones will frequent, offer to meet up or to host them. (Pro tip: This is also a great way to get to know your new city, too! When my parents visited for the first time, I spent more time researching Santa Barbara’s attractions than I ever had before.)
Lastly asking about your safety, especially in a new area, is a great question. At five feet tall, I often think about my own safety when I’m going for a walk or coming home late at night. I’d recommend being hyper-vigilant (I know, we shouldn’t have to be so aware, but this is our reality). This could mean:
If you’re going out alone, make sure a friend knows where you are or turn Location Sharing on with a trusted loved one. (My best friend and I always share this info when doing a Craigslist pick-up or going on a new date, even though we’re 1,000 miles apart.)
Trust your gut on people you meet and unfamiliar situations you may find yourself in.
Look up best practices in your city for services like Uber, Lyft, and public transportation. You can find lots of safety recommendations with a quick Google search or Facebook group post.
Take a self-defense class or learn even a few reliable moves.
Above all, exercise common sense safety procedures—but don’t let fear stop you from exploring your temporary digs! There’s so much in the world to experience, and we often find who we are when we open ourselves up to new opportunities.
A year will fly by; in that time, hopefully you’ll make a lifelong friend or two. If not, remember that sometimes friends truly are just for a season or reason—and that’s okay. Good luck on your move (here are some sustainable moving tips, by the way!) and the next chapter. 💛
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Henah Velez (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. Prior to her work here, Henah worked in the nonprofit sector for more than seven years including at She’s the First, a nonprofit fighting for a world where every girl chooses her own future. Based out of Santa Barbara, you can usually find Henah roaming around local downtowns and small businesses, hanging with her pets, or traveling as much as possible.