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If you have ever been a solo lady moving to a big new city, you know how tough it is to figure everything out. Its exciting sure, but there’s SO MUCH that you are unsure of. I mean literally everything. When you first move to a new city, perhaps in a different country and are totally solo with no one to guide you through, you quickly realise how many facets of your ‘home life’ you used to take for granted, and have to re-learn everything from scratch.
It’s not easy. Rewarding, yes. But not easy.
Even if you move cities with a friend or partner to meet you there (or they may be moving there with you) establishing your own independent life and comfort level in a new place can be extremely intimidating. Where do I shop? How can I meet people? Which part of town is sketchy and which is over-priced? Which expat groups are any good? Am I overpaying for this bread? Will I ever have friends again?
The answers to these questions will vary from city to city of course, but there’s a few useful websites and groups that I’ve discovered in my Expat life and since recommended to my friends, sister, cousins and anyone else who asked, to help ease the transition into a new life in a new city as a solo female expat.
By the way, this collection is specifically geared towards the ladies moving into new cities because, well, I’ve never been a dude in a new city before! If/when S and I move to Australia I’ll be able to give you the masculine perspective.
Girl Gone International. This was and continues to be my favourite of all the Expat groups. I joined in the very early months of moving to Vienna and it was a lifesaver. I’d been to a few other Expat ‘group meets’ and they all felt a bit too much like a dating scene, but ‘GGI’ as its known to its members, was something else. A haven of like-minded women who just wanted to chat, drink wine, meet new people and do fun activities. From cupcake classes, to hiking, to book clubs, to a night out at a Mexican cocktail bar the group is always active and doing something fun. They also have a wicked downloadable magazine that is full of wonderful stories and survival tips from other Expat women. Absolute favourite and a must join if you’re moving to a new city as a solo lady!
Yelp. Yelp is more popularly known as an app and website for finding reviews on restaurants and locations, but did you know they also have Yelp communities and events? In most major cities, new and regular Yelp reviewers can meetup at events, normally in a popular restaurant and get to know fellow Yelpers. (Not sure if ‘Yelpers’ an actual term, but if not, I am definitely trademarking that nickname!) This is a perfect combo of meeting new friends, trying new restaurants and getting to know your local areas and hot spots. Definitely worth checking out on arrival in a new city.
Meetup This is a site you may have already heard about, it’s very useful for finding a large choice of different ‘Meetups’ going on in your local area. These can be brunch clubs, people interested in board games, hikers groups, coding fanatics, any and all interests are available near you. The great advantage of this is you can choose what interests you and there’s a higher chance of meeting locals. Definitely worth browsing and creating a profile for – there’s always new Meetups being added.
Facebook Groups. This might not be your first instinct, but stick with me here. There are loads of Facebook Expat groups available and when an active community is using the group it can be really useful. In Vienna for example there’s multiple ‘English Conversation Groups’, an Internationals in Wien group, Foreign in Vienna and so on. A lot of the time the community members post about furniture for sale, rooms for rent and loads of other useful local info. So get searching on the old Facey and you can find some useful things to furnish your new life in your new city.
Internations. This is a controversial one for me. It seems every time I mention Internations to Expats here in Vienna, there’s an accompanying roll of the eyes and the sentence ‘yeah, I went once, but it was kind of a meat-market’. I’m unsure if that’s specific to this city, but it seems a lot of locals may use the regular Internations Meetups as hook up opportunities. Try for yourself in your city, but be wary. Also, their website charges a fee to have access to ‘Premium features’ so tread carefully if you like your info free and accessible to all.
Local sports clubs. I’m not talking about the gym where you plug-in your iPod and work out alone, I’m talking about real, social sports groups. A volleyball, basketball, rollerblading, rugby, hockey or swimming team. These are one of the best options, especially if you want to connect with locals and not get caught up in the ‘Expat bubble’ of only hanging out with other expats. Local sports teams will connect you with the community and as a side benefit, keep you in shape. Its win-win!
Your sports team may or may not look like a Nike sports bra ad
You can check out all the above websites to see if there’s a group in your area. If there’s not, why not found one? I’m sure you’ll uncover a host of other Expats and locals nearby and soon have an awesome bunch of new friends!
If you know of any other groups worth mentioning drop us a line in the comments – and maybe I’ll meet you there!