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AIBU to ask if it’s easier to make friends in a smaller city / town? (LONG POST!)

(27 Posts)
ShouldIStayOrShouldIGo22 Mon 06-Mar-17 22:20:45

NC as this is outing. I’m 41, single, no DC, no family, don’t own my home (this is relevant!)

I’ve lived in London for 16 years. I moved here originally for work, and because I had lots of friends from school and uni here. Over the years, the close long-term friends I had have drifted away / emigrated / had kids and moved somewhere more affordable etc. The friends I’ve made in London (through work, evening classes etc) are nice enough but I don’t have anyone I’m that close to. If I need someone to talk to, I call my best friend who lives hundreds of miles away. If I’m ill, I have to look after myself. There’s no-one here I could call at 3am and say ‘I need help.’

About ten years ago, I started doing some freelance work on top of my day job. The flow of work and the income are sporadic, but I worked evenings, weekends etc, built up a good reputation and have managed to save a sum of money (all above board and declared to HMRC, before anyone asks smile) I’m now at the point where I could afford to pay a year’s rent upfront somewhere outside of London.

The career that I moved to London for has become less and less appealing in the last few years. It’s no doubt partly because I’ve got something else (the freelance work) that I really love and am passionate about – but for the last few months I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I hate commuting, I hate going into work, I hate thinking about work. (I don’t think I’m depressed because it’s only the day job that makes me feel this way).

As I get older, I’ve been thinking more often about moving out of London, getting a part-time job doing something unrelated to my career (happy to stack shelves / answer phones / do admin) to pay the bills, and spending the rest of my time on the freelance stuff I love.

I have a fantasy of living somewhere pretty, green, quiet – maybe near the sea – with a stronger sense of community and less stress / pollution / lower costs of living.

I know I’m not BU to think about moving out of London, or to have fantasies – but AIBU to think that my life would actually be that different somewhere else? In London it’s very easy to isolate yourself. It can feel like everyone gets the train back home to their suburb, closes the door and that’s it. But I worry I’d just be swapping one lonely life for another.

I’ve only lived in London as an adult – are smaller towns and cities friendlier? Are there lots of opportunities to make friends if you don’t have children? For anyone who’s lived in London and elsewhere – do people make more of an effort in a smaller place?

At the moment I have four options (that I can see):

1) Stay in London. Make more of an effort to find real, good friends.

2) Move to the city my best friend lives in. I love her, but she’s very introverted and I’m not sure we’d go out that much together. Lots of lovely cosy evenings in, but if I wanted to meet new people, that would be down to me. I did live in this city for a couple of years straight after university (she wasn’t there at the time) and I have some very bad memories of it. If she wasn’t there, I probably wouldn’t be considering it. It’s smaller than London but still a major city.

3) Move somewhere much smaller and make a completely different kind of life for myself.

4) Try living in a few different places for 6-9 months at a time to see what suits me. Downsides would be: moving costs; packing and moving (I hate moving!); it can take me a while to feel settled in a new place.

I’m interested in your thoughts and experiences (especially if you don’t have kids or if you’ve relocated after your DC left home) - and in the questions I haven't thought to ask myself...!

ShouldIStayOrShouldIGo22 Mon 06-Mar-17 22:23:08

"I’ve only lived in London as an adult" should have read "I've only lived in large cities as an adult".

oliviaoatcake Tue 07-Mar-17 00:03:15

Single, 40s, no kids here. Small family, friends dotted around the country as i lived in the midlands, then south, then north and now midlands again.

The older you get the harder it is to make friends, especially if youve moved around, more so in a small town if youre not 'a local.'

You can but try and see how it goes.

On the plus side, you can get a nice cottage/terrace in a lit of places for £100k.

KC225 Tue 07-Mar-17 01:54:20

Moved from London to rural Sweden. In London I knew all my neighbours, my postman's name, all of the local shop owners etc. had mum friends etc. I have non of that here. It is so sad.

highinthesky Tue 07-Mar-17 02:07:27

OP, if you move you'll still take your problems with you and potentially have a much smaller pool of people around you, and it will be harder to find people you might want to call friends.

I would give London another 10 months or so but make an effort to step up the social life here (that means planning to be out and about 3 weekends out of 4). Then make a decision in the New Year.

CarrieMyBag Tue 07-Mar-17 02:37:28

Agree with the you're not local comment. I always lived in metropolitan cities until I moved to the UK. I now live in a smaller town now. I think I'm well liked at work, but there is always a as nice as you are, you are not one of us feelings.

WomanScorned Tue 07-Mar-17 02:49:41

Yep, I second PP who said only if you're local. Living in someone else's one horse town is very different to living in your own one!

I've done both, and London. I have always made friends easily in London. I find people there to be perfectly approachable. Certainly, more so than any other city. More so than the small town I'm currently in - ie, not the one I grew up in. I think it's because most London residents are incomers, whereas somewhere like Birmingham is all locals. I've always found the place unwelcoming to the point of hostility.

SparkleSunshine201 Tue 07-Mar-17 02:53:43

Yes I agree with pp that while outwardly friendly, in smaller towns or villages you will be seen as an outsider and there is a lesser pool of people so fewer opportunities to meet people with similar interests. In London, the world is on your doorstep, and I think it is easy to take it for granted. But really, there is no better place to find people who are like you. There are far more people in london who are single, childfree and loving life than in small communities, which tend to be families with children.

My DH is from a small town and he was the only one in his circle who wasn't married by 25, the only one who went to university. He moved to a big city and met many more people like him and he felt that he fit in much better.

But it does take effort in London to make friends. Don't give up. flowers

ImageQueen Tue 07-Mar-17 07:10:34

I have moved around all my life. My Father's job commanded many moves and then career choices as an adult.
I have lived in many Cities, towns & villages.
It's what you make it.
There are people to meet everywhere and many haven't been born and raised in their place of residence!

It sounds like you're ready for a change. Is it just the people thing or a new experience of place that is driving you?
Either way, follow your heart.
There is so much out there!! Xx

Ragwort Tue 07-Mar-17 07:21:18

Tend to agree with Image - life is what you make it, if you find it hard to make friends in London you may find it equally hard to make friends in a small town. Surely there will be loads more opportunities to do things/join organisations/volunteer/just wander round free museums etc etc in London than somewhere small? There are some great new WIs being set up all over London - that's a great way to meet new people.

I've also moved around a lot and have no problem making friends but I make sure I get out and do things, that's the only way to meet people.

Okite Tue 07-Mar-17 07:30:01

We moved recently to a tiny village and haven't had any of the 'you're not local' type of attitude. On the contrary, it's the friendliest and most welcoming place I've ever lived. There's a fantastic community and loads of local social groups to join. All the neighbours look out for each other and pitch in to help when needed. It's really been amazing.

Softkitty2 Tue 07-Mar-17 07:37:48

I think you need to look into towns/cities/villages that you find appealing and TRY living there before a big move.

The idea is often better than reality.
Also, will your hobby still be profitable to somewhere outside london?

In terms of activities, restaurants, night classes/activities nothing beats london if you do enjoy these things there will be a lot of adjusting.

Gowgirl Tue 07-Mar-17 07:48:08

Small towns on the coast can be very insular, you will be better off renting for a while especially in off season/winter, as its often not for the faint hearted, oh and buy a car if you don't have one grin
Good luck!

StereophonicallyChallenged Tue 07-Mar-17 07:56:06

There are cities in the UK that are full of vibrant people, cool places and awesome leisure activities, as well as job opportunities but that are not London!!
I'd go for a city OP. Less isolation imho and more movement of people means you don't get an 'outsider' vibe from locals smile

ProfYaffle Tue 07-Mar-17 07:56:48

I think the type of town you move to makes a difference. Somewhere with lots of incomers/retirees etc will be more friendly as more people will be in the same boat - looking to build social networks etc.

I live in a county known for people retiring here from London. It sounds sleepy but it's great as there's a thriving scene for volunteer/community projects set up by people looking to occupy themselves and find new friends.

Astoria7974 Tue 07-Mar-17 08:03:39

It can be more difficult if you aren't white. The small towns I've lived in weren't as welcoming as cities to people of different races let alone nationalities & I found myself even more alone

jamtomorrow1 Tue 07-Mar-17 11:00:06

Do it. You are not having a nice time at the moment and you have no ties - make the most of it. I am a fan of small villages because if you make the effort to go to the village pub (not to get p*ssed [well, you don't have to]) but to sit at the bar and talk to the staff and the locals then you will meet lots of people quickly. There is also normally quite a lot in the way of book clubs etc because everyone is in the same boat of "there is no fun here unless we make it ourselves". I am not particularly outgoing with new people but I manage ok. I have not ever encountered a "this is our village, go away" attitude - we are in Suffolk and my family are in Cornwall, both of which one might think would be quite insular, and everyone is actually very friendly. You have very little to lose. I hated living in London and found it very lonely and isolated.

jamtomorrow1 Tue 07-Mar-17 11:01:15

Perhaps there's a lovely coastal village within an hour of your friend's city so you could see her often at weekends but not be dependent on her?

Pollypickypocket Tue 07-Mar-17 11:05:30

Moved around loads - never wanted for friends but if I had to move now aged 50 I'd pick a big town/small city chester/ York type places - enough going on and groups to join plus people come and go so not the only incommrr but still small enough to get to know people

ShouldIStayOrShouldIGo22 Tue 07-Mar-17 11:20:00

Thanks for all the comments - much appreciated. I did wonder if I'd be taking my problems with me (ie, is it me or is it London that's the issue?)

Apart from work, I do live a fairly 'local' life in London. My gym is 2 mins away, I belong to 2 local reading groups, do an evening class locally, go to a pub quiz every week 15 mins away. Have realised that I'd assumed this meant that life in a small town would be a bit like this - but as a PP said, London is full of incomers...

I do quite a lot of social stuff, but still feel isolated. Maybe it's just me sad

Lots to think about. Thanks all

welovepancakes Tue 07-Mar-17 11:33:59

How about moving to a University town, where there's a steady stream of people coming and going? I think moving to live closer to your friend is risky - too much pressure on the friendship. Avoid places that are popular holiday destinations (ie deserted in winter). Get involved in voluntary work as a way to meet people

Bambambini Tue 07-Mar-17 11:44:48

Usually you need a community with a fair number if people coming and going (like many cities). Work and children are good ways to branch out and make friends but often easier to make friends where there are other incomers/expats etc. Local people often have their life long friends and family around - they don't need new friends and are busy often with family. I don't think it really crosses their mind of what it's like to be new and alone.

Sonders Tue 07-Mar-17 11:52:07

I lived in London for only a year and hated it. My work had a rule against friendships and I worked too many hours on a shift pattern to attend any social classes.

How about a quieter suburb of another city? I recently moved to an 'up and coming' part of my city and I can't believe the difference - it's been 3 weeks and we've already met the bin men, postman and neighbours, everyone seems really friendly and there's a community centre round the corner that has loads of interesting-sounding classes.

PollyPelargonium52 Fri 16-Jun-17 15:29:00

Local insularity sucks in the small town places besides coming out of London you will experience a huge lack of life experience and much contracted outlook after being in a large city so long first.

I have lived in a small town for 9 years and possess one local friend in this town the rest are from other parts from going to a spiritual group that I joined. I do work from home however so that stops me mixing - not that I mind. I lived prior to this for 25 years in London.

If I were you I would move to the outskirts of either a large town or a large city where there is a good cross section of people with open minded views. If not you will struggle. There are also way less things to join and less meet up groups.

SummerKelly Fri 16-Jun-17 15:58:06

I live in a town of just over 20,000 and I moved from cities. I've found it much easier because people are better networked to each other and no one lives far away. I've met people through music and a campaigning group as well as on my street, and through work a little bit - I am also freelance so most of my work is elsewhere. I'd echo what a PP said about choosing somewhere lively enough. I live five mins from town too and I think being able to walk out easily has made a difference, even if I don't talk to anyone at least I'm around people.

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