Feeling like a stranger in a strange land? It can be hard to start over in a new city. But part of the fun is making new connections and finding a new crew.

When my husband and I moved from Indianapolis to Denver a couple years ago, I left behind a solid core of friends that made up the bulk of my social life. I was sad to leave them, but confident I could do the same thing I’d done when changing schools as a child or moving out of state for college – maintain my old friendships and start some new ones.

While I had no problems staying in touch with my friends from Indiana, making new relationships was so much harder than I ever expected. Not only did I lack any kind of social base to start from, but I had just left an office job to start my career as a freelance writer. You don’t realize how important the workplace can be as a social tool until your only office mates are a husband and two dogs.

It took some time, but eventually, I was able to meet some great people and form lasting friendships. Here are some of the methods I tried, and how well they might work for you.

MeetUp.

MeetUp is one of the best tools to find new friends with similar interests, and almost every major city has an active MeetUp community.

MeetUp is a haven for groups based on every kind of interest imaginable. I’ve joined book clubs, art journal groups and card-game nights. Many of these have hundreds of members, so don’t expect to see the same faces every time. But if you attend the same event frequently enough, you’re bound to make some connections that stick.

Go to two or three events before you decide you don’t like a group. It can take time to get out of your comfort zone and feel at ease around total strangers, but since most MeetUp groups are based on a specific activity you’ll always have something in common.

Make sure to look at the age range of the groups you’re interested in. I once joined a movie MeetUp without realizing I was the youngest person there. I went a couple times, but ultimately decided I couldn’t make close friendships with people close to my parent’s age.

Bumble.

This tip is only for the ladies. The dating app, Bumble has a feature where women can look for other women to be friends with. When you download the app, choose the BFF setting when prompted. You’ll only see profiles of other women who want to find a new shopping buddy or movie companion.

Bumble starts by showing you a series of photos. Like many dating apps, you swipe right on the prospects you like and left on the ones you don’t. At first, I swiped right on almost everyone, but I quickly realized I wanted to be more selective.

Almost half of the girls I saw said they loved drinking wine and going to brunch – but doesn’t everyone? I decided to swipe left on anyone who had such a generic profile. I swiped right on girls who said they loved comic books, playing with their dog or reading detective novels. I wasn’t trying to be judgemental, but it’s easier to make a connection when you have something in common.

I met a couple cool girls through the app, but staying in touch on a long-term basis proved harder. That’s not an indictment of the service, but you’ll need to invest some time and energy into the app if you want it to pay off long term.

Volunteer.

When you’re in a new city, it can be hard to get the lay of the land. What events are cool? Which museums are worth going to? Where can you find the best ice cream?

Volunteering for local events is one way to have fun, explore, and make friends in a new city in the process. Most volunteer spots last several hours, so you’ll have time to chat and get to know people. Plus, you often get free swag or privileged access.

If you hear about a local event that sounds interesting, but you don’t want to go alone, contact the organizers to see if they need volunteers.

Sports leagues.

Joining a local bowling league is the best way I’ve made friends in Denver. We played one game a week for six weeks, meeting at the same time and place consistently. Having a regular time to hang out proved to be the key to making a new group of friends. When you sporadically attend functions, you don’t get the consistency that’s required to solidify new friendships. Seeing the same people once a week made it easier to develop actual relationships.

We started planning other activities together pretty quickly, like going to the movies, attending musicals and going on short hikes. Eventually we started watching “Game of Thrones” together every Sunday and later transitioned into a weekly trivia group when our bowling season ended.

Every city has local sports leagues you can join and participate in. Most people won’t care if you’re unathletic, as long as you have a positive attitude and a cursory knowledge of the sport. Often, groups go out afterward for drinks or dinner, giving you another opportunity to establish roots.

Moving to a new city is the perfect chance to find new friends and reinvent your life with people who you can enjoy time with.

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National elections carry the most drama. But how much does that matter where you live? Local politics can give you a chance to make an impact.

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The recent election was one of the most divisive and difficult political events in recent history. On the national level, the rhetoric took its toll on our national discourse and even on family relationships.

However, national politics aren’t all there is to civics. In fact, it can be a good idea to take things down a few notches. If you really want to make a difference, your best bet might actually be to get involved with local politics.

In this episode, we look at what it takes to get involved, and how you can do more to make a difference.

Concepts

  • Why are we so obsessed with national politics?
  • How voter apathy impacts the quality of leadership we have in our country.
  • What are some of the barriers to voting locally?
  • How to find different offices to run for in your community.
  • If you don’t want to run for office, how can you get involved in local politics?
  • How to find out what matters to you.
  • Tips for looking around to see what impacts you at the local level.
  • How to handle political disagreements without being disagreeable.

This week’s “do-nows” provide you with ideas for figuring out how to take the first step in getting involved with local politics. It can be as simple as attending a city council meeting to see what issues are being talked about in your community.

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Resources

Pew Research CenterLow voter turnout U.S.
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com
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Don’t get hung up on changing the world immediately. Start local and watch your efforts bear fruit sooner.

Do you want to live with passion and purpose? Do you want to change the world? Do you feel like I’ve shared froofy sentiments that don’t actually matter?

The reality is that you don’t need to try to change the world all by yourself if you don’t feel like you have the time, energy, or ability to make it happen.

What you can do is find a cause you believe in and start making a tiny corner of the world a little bit better.

Do you really need to change the world?

To often we get bogged down in the idea that we need to change the world in an earth-shattering way. We like the idea of making a big impact. But most of us aren’t going to change the world in that big way.

That doesn’t mean that you are inconsequential. Since moving back to Idaho, I’ve realized that I can help effect meaningful change right here, on a local basis. So far, I haven’t made a huge impact, but I’ve seen that some of my efforts do matter.

It’s easy to step back and say, “I can’t make a big change, so I won’t try.” But you can make small change, and you can help men, women, children, animals, and the environment right where you live.

When you find a cause you believe in, you not only make an impact, but you also live with greater purpose. You are more likely to feel good about your life, and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits that come with volunteering your time and energy.

Don’t get hung up on the idea of changing the world; think about what you can do locally to make a difference. Later, if it snowballs, or if you get an opportunity to change the world, go for it. But don’t sit around feeling impotent when you might be capable of effecting a change that matters to the people around you.

What matters to you?

The first step, when you want to find a cause you believe in, is to decide what matters to you. Figure out what makes your life worthwhile. Decide what you wish was different in your area. Look around. There’s always something that could be better.

What are you passionate about? Do you care about education? Do you want to fight for LGTBQIA+ homeless youth? Do you wish people were kinder to animals? Is there an environmental risk in your area? What kind of local policies are causing harm to under-represented populations? Do you believe arts education is vital to the preservation of our culture?

You can go crazy trying to fix every problem out there. And it’s impossible to do everything all at once — especially since you probably also want to put a roof over your head. Narrow down to the issue that matters most to you and focus on that first. You’ll probably find that there are interconnected issues that you can branch out with, but start small and simple. That one issue can provide you with a manageable way to start making a change.

Join with like-minded people.

How to Find a Cause You Believe In

Once you know what matters to you, look for like-minded people. Whether you work for change at the neighborhood, city, state, country, or world level, you can’t do it alone. World-sweeping ideas come around very rarely. TBH, most change is incremental and arrives only after years of work and effort in conjunction with others.

Look for people who share your passion and values. Chances are that there are others interested in changing the world the same way you are. When I first moved to Idaho Falls, I joined the Chamber of Commerce for networking opportunities and to figure out which business leaders and professionals shared my values. I sought out a local political organization that better fit my leanings as well.

These larger organizations allow me to meet like-minded people who are part of a smaller subset. Together we can lobby for change, and our volunteer efforts can make a difference locally. It’s been heartening to see some of what I’ve done matter — even if it’s to a small portion of the population. That sort of change has the potential to spread.

Contribute your resources.

What if you feel like you don’t have the time to volunteer? You can still find a cause you believe in and contribute your resources. I’m involved in certain activities that, when considered with my other responsibilities, mean that I don’t have time to volunteer with the food pantry or soup kitchen, even though hunger is a major issue for me.

I have to say no to some things, and I realize that I can have an impact by donating money to local relief efforts. I make regular contributions to local food banks. I love local donations because I can meet the people responsible for the way the funds are used, and I can see the impact my donations have.

I choose which causes get my time, and which get my money. You can do something similar. Look for an organization that could use your financial support, even if you don’t feel like you have the time to volunteer. My son saves 10% of his allowance and income for charity. Until now, he’s mostly just put it in for an offering when we occasionally attend a church, or he gives something to panhandlers. Lately, after much thought, he announced that he wants to find a way to help homeless LGBTQIA+ teens — a problem in our area.

My son saves 10% of his allowance and income for charity. Until now, he’s mostly just put it in for an offering when we occasionally attend a church, or he gives something to panhandlers. Lately, after much thought, he announced that he wants to find a way to help homeless LGBTQIA+ teens — a problem in our area. He’s researching local organizations to see where his money might do some good. He’s 13, and he’s thinking about what he can do to make positive change where we live.

It won’t be a lot, but it will be something — and it just might make a difference in at least one person’s life.

What issues are you passionate about? Have you found a cause to believe in? How do you support it?

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