San Francisco is my fourth major move in four years. After college I moved to Manhattan, then to London, then to New Zealand. Each time I’ve started completely from scratch. Without question, San Francisco has been the hardest. I don’t know if it’s the reverse culture shock or the new job or the fact that I’m “getting to old for this”, but fuck if this isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
If it’s one thing I know about moving to a new city though, is that it SUCKSBIGTIME until you find your people. Your community. I was depressed in Auckland for a whole year because I was relying too much on my partner. I didn’t make new friends or get involved in activities. On the flip side, my time in London was the best two years of my life because I had a pre-set group of study abroad friends and I was madly in love with my roommates.
In San Francisco, I live alone. I came here with no friends in the area, but in the past month I think I’ve made a decent dent. While I’m by no means part of any community yet (except my rad job), here’s how I’ve attempted to get my shit together in a new place in a short amount of time:
Friends of Friends
Do you have a friend in San Francisco? E-introduce us! I love meeting friends of friends because it automatically gives us common ground and, since they obviously like a friend, they’re always spectacular themselves. I also lucked out and have my oldest, best friend from childhood live an hour a way. While we may not have hung out for almost a decade, it’s funny how old friends so easily fall back into familiar patterns. She also happens to work at the coolest art collective in town.
The problem with living abroad was that I would read blogs, fall in love with these people from afar, and never get to go to their meet ups/conferences/events. But now I can finally reach out to blog crushes and buy them a coffee. And – after years of oogling from across the world – I have tickets to Bloggers in Sin City and World Domination Summit.
No, Couchsurfing is not just for travelers! There are Couchsurfing activities in almost every city you can imagine. In Auckland I went on an art tour, hiked the Tongariro Crossing and went to the weekly Wednesday drinks. In San Francisco I’ve gone to the weekly drinks, walked the Golden Gate Bridge with a girl from the East Coast and guy from France, gone to group dinners, hosted surfers and organized random coffees. It’s been THE best way to stay social and do activities around the city I might never have discovered otherwise.
I’m lucky in that everyone in my office is young and fantastic and fascinating. Since day one my coworkers have invited me to their homes for dinner, taken me to brunch and given me advice about settling in SF.
When you’re settled in a city you know well, it’s easy to say no to a spontaneous opportunity because you want to get home to your cat. Or do your laundry. Or get to bed on time. But when you’re new to a place, saying no means you’ve denied yourself a chance to make friends. So I’ve made it my mission since arriving in SF to say yes to every invitation that comes my way. Want to play iPhone games at friend of a friend friend’s apartment? Why not? Take a yoga class in a cathedral after work? Don’t mind if I do. Attend walking tour of the Castro then say yes to the tour guide when he invites you to a pirate-themed bar? Of course.
I’m still getting my sea-legs and even though I’ve been out every single night for the past 14, I still haven’t found my people. And for that, I’m going to cut myself some slack and stay in tonight and watch Community until my eyes bleed.