Moving to a new city

One thing that gets pushed aside in the planning, arranging and settling in a new city is the piece about making friends and feeling a part of your new community. I've often met with clients who complain of lonliness and difficulty of meeting new people whether they are new to a city or not.


I've spent time in Seattle, Bellingham, Baltimore, Edmonton and Victoria. I've lived for two to five years in each of these places and have through the process of moving and starting over formed some ideas about how to have a successful move. What follows are my personal opinions on what to try when moving.


1. Be proactive - Consider it to be a "job" to meet people and to get to know your community.


2. Introduce yourself - Take any opportunity to say hello and introduce yourself especially in your neighbourhood. If you are having a casual conversation with someone, tell them you just moved here and introduce yourself. 


3. Shop locally - Go for local. If you are looking for a coffee shop or a dry cleaners or a hair salon, try the one in your community first. Then, introduce yourself and frequent it. If it is a coffee shop, go back. People start to remember you. And remembering you will help with them considering you a part of their community. As the customer, it feels good to have your shops know you.


4. Say yes - When people invite you to something, accept! Don't be picky. This is the time to meet as many people as possible. You may have to push outside of your comfort zone but this is how you meet people.


5. Volunteer - Find something in your new community to help out with. 


6. Join a group - Whatever your passion is, find others and join in! If you are a bike rider, join a bike group. If you are a jogger, join a runner's group.


7. Meet friends' friends - If a friend says, "you should meet this friend of mine that also lives in your city," accept the offer and contact that person. Again, be pro-active. Be the one to make the first phone call or send the first email. 


8. Be the first to invite others' over - Host! Or, at least be in charge of making invitations for others. 


9. Get to know your co-workers - take the time to chat with your co-workers and get to know them a bit. As the new person, you have more at stake then they do. Work is also a mini-community in itself. So, if there are committees, join them. If a group goes for lunch, join in. Again, be the one to make the effort.


10. Prepare yourself for some rejection - Not everyone will want to meet you or care that you have moved to their neighborhood. Some people will give you the cold shoulder. So, you move on and keep finding other people. 


11. Give yourself at least one year to start to feel at home - Seriously. It takes a lot of time to feel at home. Until the year is up, keep an open-mind.


12. Stay in your community - This is especially true if you are nearby your old neighborhood and friends. It is easy to just return to what is easy. But try to stay in your new community. Explore, walk the streets, ask others for tips on their favorite spots. Try not to flee back to your old community.


13. Read the local paper, listen to the local news - Again, it is tempting to stay connected to your old community but try to fully immerse yourself in your new city/home. 


14. Look at events pages of the news, magazines, flyers on telephone poles and in coffee shops and go to some events. 


15. Students - Join study groups, activity groups, find a hobby on campus. Sit by someone that looks interesting in class and talk to them. Introduce yourself to your teachers (this is helpful for many other reasons as well). 


Ultimately, you have to find what works best for yourself. Good luck.