Moving to a New City: How to Make It Your Home

Long-distance moves bring a unique set of challenges, especially in the social sphere. Learn how to make new friends and navigate an unfamiliar landscape both physically and emotionally.


A big move to a new city is one of the most exciting adventures in life. But within that excitement, it’s common to feel some level of anxiety. 

Fear of the unknown, as well as the anticipation you feel before making a big change, are totally normal emotional responses to long-distance moves. You’ll be transporting yourself into an unfamiliar setting, where basic things like finding your way to the grocery store aren’t second-nature anymore. You might need to develop a new routine, get accustomed to different transportation options, or even adapt to a new climate!  

Above all, the challenges of a big move revolve around your social circle. You may not have many pre-existing connections in your new city. It’s not unheard of to move to a new place without knowing a single local person. Even if you master all the logistical challenges of a big move, you won’t feel truly settled into your new city until you’ve established new friendships there. 

So if you’ve recently moved or you’re planning a big move, learn how to get into the social scene and make a new city feel like home.  

Do some research on local hotspots 

When you’re new to a place and lacking word-of-mouth recommendations, just do what any tourist might do—look up fun things to do! Later, when you’re more established in your new city, you’ll be able to differentiate the more “touristy” attractions from the more authentic locales. But to develop that local knowledge for yourself, you’ve got to get out there and try stuff! 

In your research, you can highlight some more naturally social settings, like cool bars with popular happy hours, or unique eateries. Then, hitch your social wagon to open events with communities of fun-loving folks looking to make casual connections, such as: 

Prioritize putting yourself out there 

During a big move, it’s super important to address practical needs, starting with the most basic step—unpacking—and continuing with utility setup, shopping for home goods, spatial organization, and “nesting.” 

It can be tempting to focus all of your energy on the homefront, making sure that everything’s perfect before you start socializing. However, the healthier and more sustainable option is actually to maintain a balance between “physical settling” and “social settling.” In fact, working on one can help complement the other. Going out and making connections will motivate you to keep up the good work on your home, so that you can create the ideal space for hosting your new friends!  

Make a baseline commitment to social engagement  

Putting yourself out there is a discipline like any other. It’s a lot easier to make a plan than it is to actually keep up the habit. So try out some very basic and simple strategies for sticking to your goals. The first should be: name your goal! Of course you want to “make new friends,” but be more specific. A new friendship is the destination, so ask yourself what that journey really looks like.

If your goal is to have a new best friend by the end of your first week in your new city, you’re probably going to end up disappointed. That’s because you’ve set the bar too high for yourself. Instead, try a goal like going out—whether it’s to a bar, the park, or anywhere else—at least twice a month. 

Yes, this example sounds like a baby step. That’s because it is one! Your goal should be straightforward, achievable, and actionable. And after you’ve committed to it for a while, it should leave you wanting to broaden your horizons. 

Follow your hobbies into the friendship sunset  

Happy hours and networking events are amazing resources for making lots of different connections, and they’re especially helpful for getting a foothold in a new social scene. But when you’re ready to develop a deeper bond of genuine friendship, you can supplement that kind of casual meet-and-greet with events based on shared passions. 

Once you’ve got your bearings, make your new city your own by creating a Meetup group. You don’t need to be an expert to unite people in your area around a particular interest. For example, you could host urban hikes to explore more of the city, or host pick-up volleyball games in your nearest park. Or start your own group to get to know locals in your new city by hosting a Meet and Great event. Your events can be as simple as a café book-swap, or as adventurous as a street photography outing. It’s easy to create your own Meetup group and start hobbying your way to a happy new home. 

Last modified on June 28, 2023