Author Topic: Variation in Social Life Moving Between US Cities?  (Read 1064 times)


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Variation in Social Life Moving Between US Cities?
« on: July 25, 2021, 05:47:15 PM »
If you've moved from one part of the US to another, how big were the differences, whether positive or negative in how easy it was to build/rebuild a social life/social circle?

Obviously a huge proportion of the variation in stuff like this is explained by how outgoing or introverted a person is, as well as stage-of-life factors: single people in their early 20s vs vs 30s or 40s, married people with kids vs single people and so on. After seven years living in the same US city (six figure population) where any sort of social connection has been an intense slong,* I have a job offer in another, very different, part of the USA.

A bunch of the isolation over the past seven years is my own fault, but is it reasonable to hope it make be easier to make connections in a different cities in a different part of the country? Or does it really boil down to who you are/how you act rather than where you are? MMMers who have moved to new places as adults, what has your experience been like?

*Didn't have this problem anywhere I lived previously, but since finally finishing up my education (with its attendant social benefit of being thrown together daily with the same group of people at the same age/life stage as myself) I've only ever lived two places as an adult, and the other one was for less than a year.


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Re: Variation in Social Life Moving Between US Cities?
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2021, 06:02:20 PM »
A different city can make a big difference, as they each have their own social culture. However, you may also have to change up what you are doing.

I found that the best way to build a social network (if it doesn't happen at work) is to get a hobby that isn't done in your own home. I mean, prior to working on this I also spent a lot of time in coffee shops reading, and I have one FB friend from all those hours and lattes. Volunteering can also be a good method, especially positions that have you working with other people.

However, the hobby that works in one city may not work in the next city. One of my things is swing dancing. In my old city, that really opened up a large social network that did many things together. In my current city, the dancing community is more cliquish, and it evidently just isn't a done thing around here to invite people to your house, so there aren't any house parties to meet other people at. There are people I like and we hang out occasionally, but we aren't close. I have made more friends through other means.


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Re: Variation in Social Life Moving Between US Cities?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2021, 06:06:12 PM »
In the city where I finished working last year I realized that even after many years I did not have as good a network of friends as in my previous locales.  I attributed it to getting older and realizing that many people had their friendships established by a certain age.  But recently I moved to a city where most of the population shares my politics, where social life does not revolve around church affiliation (as it did in the large, conservative southern city where I lived), and people like to get together for outdoor activities like hiking. I have found it amazingly easy to develop new friendships.  I agree that graduate school creates a ready made affiliation, but if you move to a place where you have a lot in common with many people it is simply easier to quickly find good friends. 


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Re: Variation in Social Life Moving Between US Cities?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2021, 06:21:37 PM »
I have lived in Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. I don’t think any of those are easier or harder to make friends in, as a region, but it does make some difference whether you’re in a neighborhood where most people went to high school together vs. there are many people from away.

I am an introvert, and it was easiest for me to make friends when I had little kids.

We’ve recently moved from Ohio to Wisconsin, and I expect to make friends through church and hobbies, but it does take time.

My dh is the kind of person who wanders around talking to the neighbors. Me, not so much.

Dollar Slice

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Re: Variation in Social Life Moving Between US Cities?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2021, 06:47:06 PM »
I moved from Boston metro (specifically Cambridge) to NYC and I have found it immensely easier to make friends in NYC. Like instantly easier, from day one.

I could point out a lot of reasons why I think NYC is an easier place to make friends, but truthfully I'm not sure how much of it is Bostonness and NYCness and how much of it is just that it suits me more and I'm happier here and I fit in better. I do more, I go out more, I see/meet a ton more people, there are way more opportunities to do interesting things that make it easy to talk to people. I found my 'tribe' here. I think moving could make a big difference for you, especially if you make an effort to change up any homebody habits you've gotten into.

There are absolutely people who wouldn't make friends anywhere, but you don't strike me as that type. (My dad, for example, who is also a scientist, seems to have quite a few work "nemeses," dislikes a number of his collaborators, frequently doesn't get along with his bosses in a major way, thinks people at his university are constantly screwing him over, etc. and talks about all of this constantly, which makes me think the problem is him... I think he's managed to make one very casual friend in the last 20 years, they play tennis sometimes.)


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Re: Variation in Social Life Moving Between US Cities?
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2021, 09:19:50 PM »
I have changed cities/locations 6 times in 7 years now so I consider myself to be well versed in this by now.. The first thing is that YMMV since my personality is extremely outgoing and generally easy to get along with.

That being said, here are my tricks for a great social life moving between cities.  I have 3 key activities I do in every city I move to that for me are guaranteed to build out a social network.  Climbing, ultimate frisbee and distance running.  Nearly every big city has some collection of all 3 activities and all 3 are built around a collective experience and socializing.  They are things I love to do and also work well for my personality.  So I immediately investigate the groups in the city and make a concerted effort to show up to as many events as I can when I move to the new location.   Then I just meet a couple people and ask them some questions to introduce me to the group and let them know I'm genuinely interested in getting to know people. 

All of that being said - the best advice I can offer is to find the niche you enjoy the most and don't be afraid to put yourself out there! The key to socializing is realizing that it is almost always awkward at first but it is awkward for all parties involved! So just push past that and set the bar stupendously low.  Sometimes just showing up is enough of a victory.  My personal mantra is "embrace the awkward" because everyone else is immensely grateful that someone did it and moved the conversation right on past it.  When all else fails, just ask people to explain what they wished they knew when moving to the city and you'll get a 30 minute chat about all their favorite things in the city.  Or they'll say why they hate it and you can immediately identify all the fun suckers.