Tips for Developing a Social Network in a New City

Amy on
5 people

Ah, moving. Once the boxes have been unpacked, the furniture’s been arranged and the first few nights have proven blessedly uneventful (no water leaks, no window-rattling trains, no thumping bass from the upstairs neighbors), the real challenge begins: that of developing a social network in a new town.

Even though we’re largely social creatures, the prospect of leaving an established group of friends and neighbors behind and starting over in a new place can be intimidating at the very least. The upside, though, is the limitless amount of possibilities that lie ahead, particularly if you’re moving to a cool city that feels tailor-made for you. Luckily enough, a fresh start can be just the kick in the pants we need to challenge ourselves to greater heights, and it’s always nice to get by with a little help from our friends. So here, we’ve put together a quick list of tips for making new friends in a new place. (Hint: it’s easier -- and a lot more fun -- than you might think.)

Meet Up with Meetup

The numbers don’t lie: since its launch, Meetup.com has expanded to 196 countries around the world, hosting more than 13 million members at no fewer than 125,000 meetup events over the last decade. Co-founder Scott Heiferman explains that in the wake of 9/11, he drew inspiration for the site from the way New Yorkers came together to help one another in the aftermath of the disaster. He began to see ways in which the Internet could play a role in bringing people together toward common goals, and as a result, Meetup came into being the following year. Today, that translates into an endless wealth of opportunities for a new kid in town to meet up, quite literally, with like-minded individuals from the same community.

And it doesn’t really matter what you’re into, either; it seems nothing’s too far-fetched for (at least some of) the network’s members. Naked yoga? There’s a meetup group for that. Foraging and bushcraft? Yep, that too. Or maybe you’d like to start with something simple, like a writing workgroup in San Francisco, a boozy book club in Brooklyn, a new urbanism and sustainability event in Chicago, or a running group in Austin that pairs you with a shelter dog to give both of you some exercise. Regardless of how you like to spend your spare time, there’s likely a group of folks right there in your new neighborhood just waiting to shake your hand and welcome you to the crew.

Do Some Good with VolunteerMatch

There’s probably no better way to feel at home in a new place than to indulge in a little Johnny Appleseed-style cheeseball moment of pure happiness brought on by good karma. Want to make a positive impact on your new town right from the start? Volunteer. Websites likeVolunteerMatch.org are excellent for pairing you with the kind of work you’d like to do, the kind of cause you’d like to support, and the place where you can easily do it. Or maybe instead of a long-term commitment, you’d rather practice one-off acts of good samaritanism just to see what it feels like. Look no further than good ol’ Craigslist, in its volunteers section under the community tab.. No, seriously -- have you ever seen the documentary Craigslist Joe? Check it out. It’ll restore your faith in humanity and inspire you to pay it forward too.

Find Your “Third Place”

When Starbucks first began expanding across the nation and onto what now feels like every street corner, its goal was to provide a “third place” between work and home for folks to gather over a cup of coffee and just hang. Now that the coffee giant has become a money-making behemoth, that business model has changed, but the brand was onto something: in modern society, we really do crave a third place to shake off professional and personal stresses. Whether it’s griping about work woes with like-minded folks in your field at a professional association’s events, practicing your faith of choice at a place of worship, enjoying your favorite brew at a neighborhood pub or sweating your way to endorphin-induced nirvana at a spin or yoga class, finding your punching bag/wailing wall/place where you can let it all hang out might be little more than a quick Google search away. (Case in point: the co-founders of Movelinemoved from Blacksburg, Virginia to New York and made unbreakable bonds (immortalized in the illustration above!) with the folks in their startup accelerator.) Don’t procrastinate on this one, either. The sooner you can dig a foothold in a local haunt that makes you happy, the more like home your new place will feel.


Before you make the jump to a new city, let Moveline simplify the process for you. Our services are free, and not only will we help you get fair, accurate quotes from the best moving companies, but we’ll also assign you a “move captain” to oversee every step of the process. We’re here to take the stress out of the moving process so you can spend your time, money and energy on more important things in your new environment... like that running-with-shelter dogs Meetup group or the young tech happy hour at your new favorite bar. Life is short, so enjoy it... and don’t go it alone.

Let us help. It’s why we’re here!

You can also check out more post move tips from Moveline, a radically easier way to move.