Living in the city is an incredibly exciting experience and one that provides many opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t be afforded. From being able to advance your career more easily, to benefiting from a vibrant and varied nightlife and having access to all the biggest stores and amenities; there really are a great many perks to city living.
Unfortunately though, there are also some downsides to city life and if you are used to living in more rural areas you may find that it’s somewhat high paced, somewhat stressful and even somewhat lonely. Yes, loneliness is a big problem for people living in the city, which may seem like something of a contradiction bearing in mind how populous most are. Sometimes it seems that there are so many people, but just no one to talk to. There are more singles in big cities statistically than anywhere else in the world and yet not a lot of opportunity to meet anyone. If you have recently moved to the city, or if your circumstances have changed and you’re finding it lonely, then it’s important to do something about this feeling. Here we will look at some of the things you can do to combat feeling lonely in the city and to really enjoy all the opportunities that it presents.
A Sense of Community
One of the problems with living in a big city is that there is often no real sense of community. People tend to keep themselves to themselves and you won’t often see people smiling at each other in the street or stopping to chat.
This is partly because the human brain struggles to cope with too much stimuli at any one time. When you see so many people passing in the street, it becomes hard to think of them as individuals and to empathise with them – instead they just become obstacles on your way. Thus we seldom stop and smile (there wouldn’t be time to say hello to that many people anyway!) and we don’t really get to know the same people from passing them in the street time and again the way you might in a village or small town.
The good news though, is that you can find these kids of little interactions in daily life, even when you live somewhere where no one really talks to each other. For instance, if you regularly go into a coffee shop to get an espresso for work, then you will begin to recognise the person who serves you and this is a great place to strike up a conversation from time to time. Rather than just saying ‘cappuccino please’, try actually asking them what they’ve been doing with their day, whether it has been busy and when they get off their shift. Likewise you can try talking to your hairdresser, to the bus driver, the ticket inspector at the train station and the guy on reception at work/the gym. This will then help you to start getting a feeling of familiarity where you live and it will ensure that you have lots of little interactions dotted throughout your day making you feel much more a part of the local community.
Ready Made Communities
If you aren’t getting enough interaction from these few conversations, you might want to look into finding some of the small ‘pocket’ communities that exist in big cities. For religious types, church offers a fantastic community where you are encouraged to talk to one another and to offer support and advice where it’s wanted (and even if you’re not religious – you can now find ‘atheist churches’ that combine scientific lectures, pop music and discussion). Alternatively, you could just try joining a class or club that’s in your area – many of which will have a thriving social element. This could be a martial art, it could be ballroom dancing, or it could be a book club or women’s institute. The activity doesn’t matter so much as the regular interactions and the chance to meet new people.
Dating is a big problem in cities and this is something many of my friends struggle with where I live in London. The solution that many of them have found though is online dating. It’s not to everyone’s tastes and you may feel a little self-conscious about it at first, but what you will find these days is that it’s no longer a ‘fringe’ activity and is in fact something that most people are doing so there’s really no need to feel self-conscious about it. More to the point, online dating is a great way to have more experiences, meet more people and make new friends. Even if you never find Mr or Mrs Right online, just going on dates is a great way to get out of the house and meet people and this can help you to feel a lot less lonely.
Setting Up Your Own Lifestyle
The way you set up your life to begin with is likely to have a huge impact on your happiness and on how comfortable you feel. If you live at the other end of the city to anyone you know, in a busy area that’s nevertheless nowhere near any good transport links… then yeah, you will probably find yourself starting to feel a little lonely and spending many nights in on your own.
Instead then, consider moving to an area that is closer to friends – having someone just down the road to have a cup of tea with makes a huge difference, particularly if you occasionally bump into them in your local grocers’. Alternatively, if you want to go one step further, then another option is to move into a house share. This way you will be all but forced to interact with people on a daily basis and you’ll find that this is often a great way to forge powerful new friendships. You never really know someone until you’ve lived with them, so if you really want to feel close to some new people, look for a room to rent in a house with other single people. Even if this is a bit of a longer commute to your work, you’ll find that your way of life and happiness changes to the point that it’s more than worth it.