Have you recently moved to the countryside? Often, meeting new people and socializing in a rural area can pose a challenge. Here we share 8 creative ways to help you get involved in the community and meet new people.
Country towns, whether large or small, tend to be the home of tight-knit communities. Newcomers to a rural area may find it challenging to enter the social scene. This, in turn, can make it difficult to meet new people.
If this sounds like you, there is hope.
When it comes to meeting new people and socializing in the country, it’s important to be willing to put yourself out there.
Small-town communities differ from large cities. The key to socializing is finding mutual interests or shared experiences with those around you.
Below are a few ideas to help you get involved in your community and spark new friendships.
But First, Do Some Small Town Research
It’s a good idea to begin your friendship search by researching the locals and how and when they interact. This information will give you a solid foundation of what is available to you in the community and who you can expect to meet.
Start by asking yourself, “Where are all of the public gathering places in my new town?”
Think of all the restaurants and bars, community centers, and public spaces such as parks and trails.
Also, check the local newspaper for information on local events happening around town. Arts and crafts fairs, farmers markets, community classes and other large group events may be listed.
Next, spend some time observing your community. Where do the most people frequent? And when do they frequent these places?
You also need to set your own standards. Who are the types of friends and what sense of community are you are seeking?
If you’re an avid homesteader, it might make the most sense to find like-minded homesteaders in town. If you enjoy coffee and hiking, then you might frequent the local coffee shop or join a hiking group.
Every town is different, with different types of people and gathering spots. Once you understand the natural rhythms and patterns of the local community, it’s time to jump head-first into the social scene.
1. Get to Know Your Neighbors
Getting to know your neighbors is the first and easiest step to meeting new people. All it takes is a creative conversation starter and strategic interactions to turn a stranger into a friendly neighbor.
Creating close relationships with your neighbors has its perks. Because of their close proximity to your home, neighbors are often the people you will want to hang out with. And once you've built up a relationship, it’s easy to ask them for favors such as pet-sitting or keeping an eye on your property while you’re out of town.
If the idea of meeting new neighbors feels awkward, we have a few tips to help get the ball rolling.
Tips for getting to know your neighbors:
- Make a good first impression. Wave and smile as they drive by. Be the first to say hello and introduce yourself. If you want to add a special touch, take them a plate of freshly baked cookies or a small gift as a friendly gesture.
- Throw a move-in party. After settling into your new home, invite all of your closest neighbors to a move-in party at your place. Serve light refreshments, play some games and use the time to get to know your new neighbors.
- Work in your yard frequently. Working in your yard allows you to be more available for conversation. Garden, play with your dog, paint a fence —these low-noise activities provide opportunities for your neighbors to approach you and start up a conversation.
- Have a yard sale. Yard sales are a great way to downsize the clutter and meet local people all at the same time. These types of events will naturally draw people to your property. This will give you the opportunity to strike up a conversation while neighbors shop.
2. Join Local Organized Groups
Making new friends in a rural area often requires sharing a similar interest or experience with others. Organized groups are a great place to meet people with common interests. Below are a few ideas for groups to seek out in your small town:
- Join an Adult Sports League: Organized team sports offer fun and interactive social opportunities for those who play. Teammates spend a lot of time together at practice and on the court, forming strong friendships. If you’re athletic or enjoy being on a team, joining a sports league can be a great option for socializing and meeting new people.
To find available leagues near you, reach out to your local Parks and Recreation Department.
- Join a Book Club: Book clubs are a great way to mingle with other book lovers. Each month, a book is chosen by group members for group participants to read. Groups meet regularly to discuss what they read and to enjoy each other’s company.
Contact your local library to inquire about a book club in your town.
- Parenting Groups: Where there are children, more than likely, there will be parenting groups. Moms, Dads and children can find new friends by joining a playgroup, a stroller group or by attending regular story times at the library.
3. Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering your time offers you the chance to meet new people while giving back to the community. If you have a heart for people, animals or the environment, volunteer opportunities abound.
As you meet other volunteers, be sure to introduce yourself. Here are some volunteer ideas in the country:
- Volunteer at a Local Community Garden; Comprised of various community members, a community garden depends on those that plant, tend and harvest the crops. These groups of people are usually avid gardeners who love to dig in the dirt. Here, you can volunteer your gardening skills, learn some new skills and meet others with similar interests.
- Volunteer at your Local Animal Shelter: Animal shelters are always open to new volunteers at their facilities. If walking dogs and cuddling kittens are your forte, you’ll quickly find other like-minded, animal-loving individuals.
- Help Out at a Food Kitchen: Servant-centered volunteer opportunities often draw volunteers with kind, compassionate personalities. If you seek to meet people of this sort, consider helping out at a food kitchen or homeless shelter.
- Join a CSA or volunteer at a local farm: Farms are often looking for able-bodied volunteers (also known as a farm mob) to help with various jobs. When you join a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, typically part of the deal is you volunteer a certain number of hours at the farm in addition to receiving a weekly food box and, possibly discounts. CSAs are a great way to meet people, support your local farms and enjoy nutritious, locally-grown food.
- Learn more in: How Many Acres Do You Need For a CSA?
4. Take a Group Class
Group classes and workshops provide an opportunity to learn something new while socializing with others. Below are a few ideas for finding group classes in your town.
- Classes at your local Extension Office. Centered around agriculture and community well-being, your local Extension Office may provide related group classes. From canning food to raising livestock to children’s workshops, a wide variety of classes may be offered that jive with your lifestyle.
Contact your local Extension Office to learn more.
- Classes at your local library. The library is often a hub for community knowledge and happenings. Group classes may vary, depending upon community interest. Libraries are known to host book clubs, local author readings, knowledge expert speakers and more.
Contact your local library to inquire about upcoming group classes.
- Search social media. With the rise in technology use, many businesses and organizations utilize and rely heavily on social media. Facebook is (still) an excellent social media platform to search for local group happenings. A quick keyword search around your area will populate happenings, events and even group classes.
5. Join a Gym
Going to the gym is an excellent way to improve your health and fitness.
It’s also a great place for socializing and meeting new friends.
Buy a gym membership and dedicate yourself to working out several times a week. This will give you the chance to be in community with other regular gym-goers.
Live too far from a fitness facility? This is a common challenge in rural areas, but don't let it stop you!
Local community centers often offer fitness classes like yoga, pilates or aerobics.
Tips for meeting new people at the gym:
- Ditch the earbuds. The goal is to meet people, not block them out with music or a podcast. While at the gym, be present and ready to converse with fellow gym-goers.
- Lend a helping hand. Solo weight lifters often need a “spotter” while benching heavy weights. Be ready and willing to help someone, offer them a high five or word of encouragement, and be sure to introduce yourself.
- Take a group exercise class. Just like any group-related offering in town, a group exercise class at the gym is a great place to meet new people. Try arriving 10 to 15 minutes prior to class to allow for conversation.
- Seek out a gym buddy. As you create deeper friendships with other gym-goers, you’ll find those that you click with best. These individuals would be great candidates for becoming your “gym buddy.” Gym buddies are people that you workout with on a regular basis and hold each other accountable.
6. Get a Job in Town or Invest in Your Community by Starting a Business
A simple way of meeting people is to get a job in your local town.
This survey from Gallup determined that people who make friends in the workplace often have less worry, stress and feelings of tiredness. This indicates that work-related friendships are important and can make a positive impact on your life and well-being.
If making friends at a job is your top priority, it is important to get a job where groups of people work together.
Also, work where people go to socialize in town, a bar, restaurant or the public pool are good examples.
Or, if you’re entrepreneurial, start a business or side hustle that immerses you in groups of people.
Such business ideas may include party planning and decorating, DJing for local events or teaching a class within your scope of expertise.
Starting a new job in a new town can be intimidating. Be friendly, outgoing, and, most importantly, be yourself. You’ll soon find that your personality will naturally draw the right people to you.
7. Host an Event on Your Farm or Land
A perk to owning a large plot of rural land is the ability to host events that attract large groups of people.
As a new community member, this is a great way for locals to interact with you in a fun way.
Below are a few ideas of some events and classes you could host on your farm or land.
- Set up a space for a local band and invite neighbors and community members to a night of dancing.
- Host a Farm-to-Fork event on your land.
- Invite a homeschool group over for a birdwatching class. Other ideas include cheese-making or food preservation classes.
- If you have livestock, host a farm tour. Crank up the tractor and take families on a fun ride.
- Invite a yoga instructor to your property and host a goat yoga event.
- If you have wooded areas on your property, host a foraging event for berries, mushrooms or other wild local-to-the-area crops.
8. Take the Dog for a Walk
If you own a dog, you understand walking them is a crucial part of their health and well-being. Not only is it healthy for your dog, but it gets you out of the house and in areas where other people walk their dogs.
Public parks and walking trails are good locations to find fellow dog lovers to interact with.
This study from The Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom shows that walking your dog inevitably increases your chance of experiencing human interactions.
People are naturally drawn to dogs and may ask to pet yours. This can help strike up a conversation, opening the door to new friendships.
After meeting a few dog-loving friends, consider joining or starting up a dog-walking group. Dog-walking groups meet regularly to socialize and walk at various locations around town.
Dating in the Country
Dating in a small, rural area can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible.
According to Luxe Matchmaking’s founder, April Davis, the number one way to meet a love connection is through someone else. “Someone that knows you, so you have someone vouching for the person. That makes people feel more comfortable,” she explains.
So, the first step is to build friendships with local people. Your friends can help spread the word that you are single and ready to date.
Seeking a romantic partner in the country is similar to seeking out new friends. Frequent areas where people gather, attend local events and be friendly and open to conversation. Soon enough, you’ll be well on your way to scheduling a date with a fellow small-towner.
Here are a few date ideas for dating in the country:
- Take your date on a hike to a scenic location. Follow up with a picnic lunch or dinner.
- Go fishing together.
- Cookout at home with locally sourced meats and vegetables.
- Build a fire under the stars and roast marshmallows.
Keep it simple and fun, and remember to be yourself. Although dating in the country can pose its challenges, keep your head high and approach dating with a positive attitude.
For more ideas, see: 7 Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day in the Country and How to Date in the Country.
Meeting New People in the Country is Possible!
Meeting people and socializing in the country is a lot like meeting people and socializing anywhere else. You have to be proactive and put yourself out there.
Put your best foot forward and be open-minded as you mingle and get to know your local community members.
Take your time, exercise patience and be willing to try something new.
Have faith, and know that country friends are right around the corner.