How to Meet People and Date When You Move to a New City

By Seth Myers, Psy.D.

With many jobs becoming more home-based, we’re reminded that not everyone has the luxury of meeting loads of prospective dates at work. If only! If you have moved to a new city or town, the best scenario is that you find a large group of people there in your age range who share the same single relationship status. But most men and women who move to a new place will have to work hard to meet new people because they work from home, have a small office, or find that nearly everyone’s married at work. Ugh, right?

New to the city, the most important need is to establish connections. Don’t focus too much on dating when you first move somewhere because the truth is that what you probably need more are a few good friends. The indirect benefit: New friends mean new social circles you can join, so meeting a new friend may end up leading you to a new date. How do you do this, especially if you don’t necessarily have the energy or interest in putting yourself out there and slugging through the (sometimes) uncomfortable experience of meeting new people?

Simply put, you have to suck it up and do it. It’s like professional networking, which most people hate but do anyways because doing it brings a better chance that they’ll find what they’re looking for.

What to do:

Meet the people in closest proximity to you.

Whether you live in an apartment building or a house, your first goal should be to introduce yourself to each one of your neighbors (unless somebody seems too scary, creepy, or downright annoying). One of the best ways to ingratiate yourself to a neighbor is to bring them some sort of edible treat. If you’re a cook or baker, make a batch of deliciousness and drop the treats off in person; if you’re not someone to custom-wrap bags of cookies with bedazzled origami notes, buy a couple of cases of wine and start your friendly Alcohol Delivery Service. Who could say no to that, after all?

Carefully survey the social scene at several gyms.

I know, the gym isn’t a bar or restaurant, so it shouldn’t be treated like it is with everyone checking out everyone else – and not always working out so much. But that’s the inevitable reality when you get a group of people and put them in a space together: They start forming relationships. If you really want to meet new people, don’t just go to the gym that is cheapest or most convenient. Check out several gyms to see the type of people who hang out there, because driving five extra minutes or paying a little more each month might be worth it if it means you’re more likely to meet someone who could become a new friend or more.

Always, always try online dating as an option.

People are so busy these days that online dating is a reality that’s here to stay. Online dating is simply one of the best avenues you can choose to meet new people. We don’t need to beat this one to death.

One word: volunteer.

Of course, I always believe that my suggestions are pretty good. Let’s hope all those years of graduate school were good for something! But volunteering is my best suggestion for one obvious and one not-so-obvious reason. You will obviously meet new people – men and women – in any type of volunteering setting, but volunteering will also help you get to know your community better when you’re new to a city. Pick something you like or care about – anything from public parks to animal rescues, political campaigns to children’s charities – and you will inevitably start feeling a deeper connection and attachment to the city you now call home. These sorts of things root us in our lives, and feeling rooted and connected usually leads to feeling happier.

Attend your new city’s major festivals and sports events.

Even if you’re not a sports fan, pay a visit to your nearest stadium and support a local team. If you don’t have anyone to go with, who cares? Go by yourself and pay a little extra for a good ticket so that you can be as close to the action as possible. Every city also has festivals (from the Peach Cobbler County Fair to the new exhibit at the art museum), so make an effort to attend as many as you can in your first year in the new city.

The reassuring part of the road ahead for you is that you will inevitably meet people over time. How long it takes you to establish a social circle and meet someone to seriously date – that’s up to you. The more you put yourself out there when you’re new to a city, the sooner you’ll have the relationships you need.

About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

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