Moving to a new city can be overwhelming. There’s lots of change happening—often a new job, new living situation, and a new schedule. It’s not until you start meeting people and gaining some kind of social circle that you start to feel grounded. It’s the finding the social circle that’s the hard part. Aside from walking into a bar and asking, “Wanna be friends?” kindergarten style, here are a few ideas about how to meet people in a new city.
1. Don’t bring your lunch to work
Ask around for coworkers’ tips on a great place to eat, and when they make a suggestion, tell them you’d like to tag along sometime. It will give you a chance to chat outside of the office, away from tasks. This way they can get to know you, instead of just answering all your questions about excel layouts. If you find someone you like, invite them to a happy hour.
2. Become a regular
Find a neighborhood bar or coffee shop and go regularly. You’ll get to know all the familiar faces and after a couple weeks they’ll start to remember you and your order. Friendly hellos will turn into short chats, and you can learn about all the good stuff going on in the neighborhood.
3. Hit up trivia night
And hit it alone. Ask a friendly looking group if they could use an extra player. Tout your knowledge of Gilmore Girls, or sailing terms, or European history, or whatever arena you’re a pro in. And if you suck at trivia, offer to buy a round.
Find something with a social aspect. Group park clean-ups, or serving in kitchens give you a chance to do work communally, and many volunteer groups offer happy hour gatherings afterward. Alternatively, become a volunteer dog walker. Those furry little cuties are great for getting people’s attention at the park.
5. Hit the gym
Join a gym that offers group classes like yoga, zumba, or kick boxing. You’ll often see the same faces one or more times a week, and there’s a certain bond that forms when sweaty people dance poorly together.
This may sound like too stuffy or quiet of an activity to actually meet people, but many museums offer great events like film screenings, lectures, and after dark nights, in which they serve alcohol and have some kind of entertainment. All these options make an art or science museum a great place to get to know people.
7. Try public transit
If you’re able to get to work on a public transit line, check it out. Chances are there will be a lot of other young professionals along your route, and you may begin to see the same faces regularly. A 30 minute bus ride is a great opportunity to chat about the latest book you’re reading or things going on in the city over the weekend.
8. Go to a sports bar
Okay, duh, right? But don’t settle for any sports bar. Find one that reps your hometown team. If you’re a Bears fan who has moved to New York, chances are there’s a good ol’ Chicago bar somewhere that will show their games. And you’ll automatically have something in common with everyone there on game day. It’s a great sense of community when you’re missing home, and you get to swap relocation stories while you cheer on your favorite team.
Whatever you choose, a lot of meeting people in a new city is about finding opportunities that make it easier to put yourself out there. You’re going to have to do a little bit of the initiating and may have to be more aggressive than usual when approaching people, but it’s also part of the fun. After all, you only get to be new for a short while so you might as well take advantage of it while you can.
And don’t forget to use one of the greatest excuses to start a conversation with someone you’re interested in: “I’m new to the city so…”