8 Cheap Ways to Meet People in a New City
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
I’ve moved 5 times since graduating college, and am about to move for the sixth time later this summer to Philadelphia. Moving can bring up a little of different emotions, but one thing that is common for most people, is the challenge of meeting new friends!
Here’s some of my favorite free/ low-cost ways of meeting people in a new place:
First Fridays: If you like art or just want to experience something new, check out whether your city offers First Fridays. What I love about this art tour is that no two cities have the same offering. In my hometown of Louisville there’s a great trolley you can hop on and off of, in Chicago the Art Institute is available, and in Oakland local artists and chefs are featured. It’s also great if you’re living somewhere and feel like you’re stuck in a rut, and want a change of scene.
Trivia: My secret power is that I’m a human Shazam - I can pretty much identify any song in under 5 seconds. Aside from answering the perennial “what song is this” from your friends, it’s normally a useless skill UNTIL I enter a trivia arena. It is at this point that I transform into Ilonimus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of ABBA, General of the Few Remaining Kanye West Fans, loyal servant to the greatest popstar Madonna, daughter of Jennifer Lopez (spiritually) – and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next (sorry not sorry for the Gladiator reference). Trivia is a great way to unwind during the work week, and what’s great is you don’t even need a team - most people are nice enough to adopt a solo player. Best case scenario you meet some new friends, worst case you find a different bar to play trivia the next week!
Alumni events: When I moved from NYC to San Francisco, I was barely a year out of undergrad. I was moving to the city completely “blind” - I had no acquaintances or connections to build a rapport with. In addition to my roommates, I leaned heavily on my alumni network and events put on by the PennClub to meet new people and socialize. Even if I didn’t end up connecting with anyone at a social event, attending something like a speaker series was a great way to feel stimulated and inspired at the end of a long day.
Sports: I have been practicing yoga for almost 14 years now, and one of the first things I do when I move to a new place is start trying out yoga studios until I settle on a “home base.” I’ll have to admit, I’m not the first person to strike up conversation at a yoga studio - I prefer to come in and be centered with my practice. However, after a few years of regularly going to a studio, it’s hard not to feel a sense of community when the instructors start remembering your name and checking in on you!
Co-workers: Depending on your work environment, your co-workers can be a great resource for what to do in a new city. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching your boss, try and find peers in other departments! Not only is it a great way to source tips, but you’ll also expand your knowledge of the different groups at your company.
Free walking tours: Think free walking tours are something you only do on vacation? Think again! One of my favorite memories from living in San Francisco was doing a free architectural walking tour of the Marina. I learned so much about an area of the city that I didn’t usually spend time in, and managed to strike up great conversation with other participants!
Local university events: If you’re moving to a city or town that has a university, check out their events calendar! They often have fantastic guest speakers and free / inexpensive performance events. It’s a great way to engage in your community and support young talent.
Hobbies: Last but not least, when in doubt, rely on tried and tested hobbies that you enjoy! I played violin growing up, and when I moved to San Francisco, found a community orchestra to play with. Ultimately it became too difficult to balance my work life with the rehearsal schedule, but through the orchestra I was able to meet a group of musicians that I ended up practicing chamber music with on a much more relaxed schedule. Often times a new move is a great time for you to dust off your old dancing shoes, instrument, or paintbrush, and get reacquainted with some classes! Not only will you be picking back something that you love, you might even meet some cool people along the way.
What are some of your favorite ways to get to know a new place?