How to feel less alone in a new city?
December 15, 2008 1:09 AM   Subscribe

I've moved to a new town (Amarillo, TX) and have been here for two weeks and I'm feeling bored/lonely. I plan to live here for at least two years. How do I pass the time productively?

So I'm out of law school and I took a job in Amarillo, TX as a prosecutor. I'm single, no wife or girlfriend. I like the job but I don't know anyone in town. I have a sibling who is moving here in 6 months, which will give my someone to hang out with, but I'm growing antsy in the meantime.

Amarillo is a small-midsized city (200,000 people) that's a 6.5hr drive northwest from Dallas.

I like the people at work in the sense I can get along with them very well for work related purposes, but no one there seems ready yet to include me in their post-work social circle. I've read other threads about moving to a new town and found them helpful, but it seemed tailored to a larger city. Meetup and Craigslist in Amarillo are dismal.

What kind of steps can I take to better connect to this new city?

On a related note, are there any psychology books or tips to read that can help me endure through these feelings of isolation.?
posted by abdulf to Human Relations (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I imagine you are hoping to receive hints and tips for connecting to actual people in your local community - and I hope you do - but as a refugee who moved from metro-Melbourne to I-cant-believe-its-not-a-cattle-station-with-an-airport-Brisbane, making friends online is a good way of being alive.

Also, start a community garden. Your local municipal authority should have a guide on it... or write it for them.
posted by evil_esto at 2:16 AM on December 15, 2008

If Meetup and Craigslist aren't helping, go oldschool. Take out a subscription for your local newspaper, check the bulletin boards at the library and leisure center, volunteer for a charity, if you're religious put 'busy social calendar' on your list of criteria for choosing your new place of worship.

Basically seek out societies, clubs and events outside of work using non-internet routes. Amarillo may not have a big presence on Craigslist, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a big community organised offline.

And I have The Way To Amarillo stuck in my head now. :(
posted by the latin mouse at 2:20 AM on December 15, 2008

You don't mention your interests at all, but I have to think that in a city of 200,000 people you can find someone that shares at least one interest you have. Another wonderful option is to think of this isolation as a time to take account of yourself and do some inner work. I've endured times of isolation as well, and personally have tried to use them for the diamonds in the rough they really are. For instance, when I was traveling alone for an extended time I realized that my boredom stemmed from not having the normal chaos I had at home to distract me. I thought to myself, why not use this time to learn something that normally would have been pushed to the back-burner in my regular day to day life back at home? So... Maybe you want to learn an instrument, maybe you want to get fit, etc... Whatever it is, use this rare personal time to forward yourself in a way that will benefit you for the years ahead.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 2:23 AM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just re-read your post and wanted to add one more comment. You mention that no one seems ready to include you in their post work activities. Have you tried to instigate anything? I've always found that people can get caught up in their day-to-day and don't always think to ask new people out, sometimes all it takes is letting them know you're interested. You don't have to be very overt, maybe approach someone and mention wanting to get to know the city a bit better, you could ask for a recommendation of a nice bar to drink at or something. I often find that this technique alone will prompt people to show you their favorite spots.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 2:39 AM on December 15, 2008

Everything I know about Amarillo, TX I learned (very, very recently) from Man Vs Food on the Rapidsha...I mean, Travel Channel. Visit these venues and chat to some locals (and so that I can live vicariously through you). In particular, successfully completing the 72 oz steak challenge at Big Texan will be sure to win you some comrades. Or go meet some roller derby babes at Patriot Skating Rink.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:02 AM on December 15, 2008

When I am new in town, I usually try to go where people are, like a church or a community center. Also, if you have a job a great way to get to know the area is to ask your co-workers what they recommend to to in town, like a bar or a restaurant. If you are not averse to opening your wallet offer to take someone out to their favorite restaurant or bar for a drink or dessert. Ask for recommendations- especially from those who seem well connected.
posted by agentsarahjane at 3:33 AM on December 15, 2008

Others are giving more specific advice, but having been in a similar situation after college (small city and I knew one other person, but we couldn't do EVERYTHING together), I have to say: be patient! Two weeks is such a short time. It took a couple months for me to make some friends where I was working at the time and that eventually led to me meeting my now-husband and now I'm probably never leaving! And before that, I was looking for every and any way to move somewhere else because I was so bored and lonely.

Please try not to feel like you are doing anything wrong though. This stuff all takes time.
posted by stefnet at 5:06 AM on December 15, 2008

As one who's lived in all sizes of cities in Texas, inside a social circle tends to mean (A) in the same church, (B) in the same family, or (C) from the same high school or college. In small towns you're pretty much an outcast if not A, B, or C. But Amarillo is big enough to have an undercurrent going on and you'll find it if you're tenacious. I will second being patient... this will take weeks if not months. The key places to start here are:
* Start an eclectic meetup. Make it as broad as possible though. If you want to meet people in your same boat, maybe an expatriates group.
* Check local calendars for events happening in town, and attend some of the more interesting and off-the-wall ones.
* Check your metafilter profile for who's near you and maybe drop them an e-mail.
* Google discussion forums for people in Amarillo and e-mail them if you like what they're writing.
* Amarillo is big enough to where you can probably connect to people via the music scene, if you're into that.
* You may have some luck finding people with like interests with myspace, but from what I've seen in those communities it seems to be mostly a high school party & singles bar under the same roof.
posted by crapmatic at 6:22 AM on December 15, 2008

If I move to a new town, I first move into a shared flat with fun looking people, like hippy kids, graduate students, etc. Sure, they may make far far less money, but you'll know some nice people and have time for finding your own place. If you want a nicer place, then rent or buy one with extra space and let 1 or 2 rooms out.

I'd say after work classes are another great way of meeting people, maybe dance or spanish classes.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2008

Ironically, my dad is the DA in Hereford (about 45 minutes from Amarillo).

Agree with what was said about needing to give it time and taking the initiative--you just need to make an effort to get involved with things, and give it time...Amarillo is big enough that you'll have plenty of friends in no time.

It's probably not the greatest place in the world, but it's really not that bad. I hope you enjoy it.
posted by DMan at 4:35 PM on December 15, 2008

Just an update. I did send out an office e-mail to start a lunch club. There was an enthusiastic response from people in other departments. We had a good first meeting and have decided continue doing a monthly brown bag lunch.

It's a start.
posted by abdulf at 9:29 AM on January 9, 2009

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