It’s even hard to explore a new city. In Boston, with museums, galleries, shops and restaurants closed or offering limited hours, Ms. Choudhary hasn’t found any of those favorite spots that make a place feel like home. “It’s a beautiful city. You can go by the harbor, you can walk. There is open space,” she said. But aside from the grocery store, she has yet to create any rituals. “Where are the cool places? If I ever have a friend visit, where would I take them? I don’t know.”
Ms. Nelson, who moved from San Francisco to Napa in October, suggests doubling down on social media, at least for now. Announce your upcoming move on your social platforms, asking friends to introduce you to people they may know in your new town. Join local Facebook groups in your new community, and engage in the forums. Look for friends on apps like Bumble BFF. Look for hiking, cycling or jogging meet-ups.
Or you could make a general shout-out on social media, like Eliza Petersen did. In October, the unlikely TikTok influencer known for her viral video about God and an angel discussing the demise of the dinosaurs, offered a heartfelt plea to her 300,000 followers, telling them that after her move to a new house in a new neighborhood, she was “having a lot of trouble feeling very isolated and it’s just getting a little too hard to deal.” Offering a P.O. box address near Salt Lake City as a way to connect offline, she said, “If anyone would like to be friends, even just a virtual friend, we can write letters, exchange recipes, or crafting ideas, or talk about dinosaurs.”
Move to a new place, and it’s easy to feel like you’re on the outside looking in. Joe Esposito, 40, was standing on Abbot Kinney Boulevard near Venice Beach in Los Angeles with his girlfriend, Laura Snell, 35, soon after the TV networks announced that Joe Biden had won the election. The street had a festive block-party vibe as locals celebrated the news. But for the couple, who have been living in the city since July, the moment felt wistful. They wanted to join in, but how?
“We were roaming around town and people were celebrating and we didn’t know anybody, you’re sort of observing,” said Mr. Esposito, a content strategist for a bank who had lived in the New York City area his whole life before driving across country with his girlfriend. Ms. Snell, a remote teacher and actress, is originally from Southern California, but hadn’t lived in the state for a decade.
As hard as it may be to meet new people during this pandemic, Miriam Kirmayer, a clinical psychologist and friendship expert points out that there is an upside to looking for friends right now: Lots of people are feeling pretty lonely.
“People are more open about the experience of loneliness and more aware of and open about their desire to make new connections,” she said. This could be a time to “put ourselves out there and to be transparent about our desire to make new connections.”