Meeting people in Buffalo, NY is hard. How much easier in Philadelphia?
May 16, 2015 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I've never actually lived in a true "big city" but based on how many meetup groups there are in Philly vs Buffalo, you'd think it would be incredibly easy. Buffalo has been a lonely city for me and not for a lack of trying.

A major issue with Buffalo is that most of the people here have their friends and groups from high school and college and don't feel the need to actively seek out connections with new people. There's a pretty low percentage of people who transplanted here.

I'm originally from Michigan, 20 minutes north of Detroit (birth to 12, then back from 21 to 30). I did a short stint in tiny Asheville, NC which was nice but I'll leave it in the visit pile. Did middle and high school in Denver suburbs.

So I've been around and no stranger to different environments. I've visited Philadelphia and had a blast. But vacation and life are very different animals!

On population alone, Philadelphia's 1.5 million (6 mil. metro area) to Buffalo's 250k (1.1 mil. metro area) it's obviously a bigger pond, but what are the realities involved?

All your advice and experiences are greatly appreciated! Thank you.
posted by mrflibble to Society & Culture (4 answers total)
Buffalo has been a lonely city for me and not for a lack of trying.

Might help if you were to describe what your trying has consisted of. You haven't said how long you've lived there, in what sort of neighborhood, where you spend your time, or anything else to inform anyone's insights as to whether you'd run into the same problems elsewhere.
posted by jon1270 at 12:57 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi there! I recently moved to Philadelphia from a small rural-ish town in New Jersey. I came a few months ago knowing just one person. I was pretty lonely where I came from, and I'm still pretty lonely now, but it isn't half as bad as it was before. Through a combination of my job and just putting myself out there, I've managed to make a handful of acquaintances and at least one person I'd say counts as a new friend, albeit a very casual one. I've gone out to meetups, gone out by myself to random shows and events, and volunteered at a few places. Often, I feel pretty frustrated. Trying to meet new people when you hardly know a soul is a lot of work, and it doesn't always pay off. And it doesn't help when, like me, you're somewhat introverted and not really that inclined to go up to strangers and just be like "hey, what's up" with zero context. So yeah, it's a lot of work and I'm not there yet. Still I'm optimistic that eventually I'll establish some kind of social network if I just keep putting the work in.

I've never been to Buffalo, but people I've met from there tell me it's nice (despite the cold). I'm not sure you'd necessarily do a lot better in Philly than Buffalo. There's more people in Philly, sure, but if you're comparing cities, it might be better to compare population densities. A denser place would surely be better for meeting people; past a certain point, I don't think the raw number of people really matters much, especially not if they're all way spread out from each other. My advice would be to keep trying in Buffalo, if at least for a little while. Don't just restrict yourself to looking at Meetup; look at everything you possibly can, on- and offline. Volunteering is probably a good bet; you deal with structured environments and regular schedules, and people are there because they want to be.

If you do decide Philly would be better for you after all, than by all means, welcome! It's a great city. Granted, there are some ugly aspects; there's no small amount of poverty and crime here. But it also has a lot of beauty, history, and great people. Not to mention great food. I like it a lot here.
posted by zchyrs at 3:44 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I suspect the Philly economy is better than the Buffalo economy. That means more people socializing...

One way to meet people is to be a joiner. Find an organization to join. It could be a sports team, a choir, whatever. Or volunteer at a hospital, with the Boy Scouts, whatever appeals.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:25 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm from the Philly area, and live in Buffalo now, and my experience has been that it's far easier to connect with people here than in PA. I find Buffalonians warmer and more welcoming than Philadelphians (people make eye contact here!).

But, to echo points above, it's going to depend largely on what you're doing. When I moved here, I knew literally one person in WNY. So I hit up a bunch of meetups, got involved in the communities that interested me, and made friends along the way.

No matter where you are, meetups, community groups/organizations/activities, and just general low-pressure group socialization can lead to great connections.
posted by okayokayigive at 6:09 AM on May 18, 2015

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