Making a move at any time can be exciting and stressful at the same time. You are excited to be living in paradise, but may be mourning the move from your friends and possibly family as well as everything you established in your former location. Those of us that have children and go through a move are always so focused on helping the kids assimilate to the new location... but what about us adults. If you are considering a move to Naples or have just moved, you may be going through the process of adjusting real time and not sure how to go about meeting new people. Here are some thoughts to help make this transition easier and more enjoyable.
VOLUNTEER: I know, I know! You are going to have your hands full for a while just getting settled, so this may need to wait. But, one of the best ways to meet others is to find a volunteer activity you love doing and you will be sure to meet others that you have at least one thing in common. The volunteer collier web site can be a great place to start.
JOIN A CLUB: There are a number of clubs and/or networking groups that are in place to help people connect. Some are more business oriented, but there are others that may be for people looking the non-professional options. There are also groups structured around parenting. I am part of the Naples Women's Club and love it because it blends volunteering and social aspects. There are many options out there that could fit your personality and interests. You may want to check out Naples at Eventbrite to see if there are some options posted out there.
GET ACTIVE: Naples is a very active town with lots of variety. There are plenty of opportunities to join athletic groups or teams... everything from softball to tennis to golf to cycling. Another option in line with this is to join a gym or studio. Not only is the workout good for the mind and body, but you are likely to meet people at these venues. Naples Parks and Recreation has programs for children and adults.
PET MAGNET: Everyone notices those cute fuzzy friends. When you are with your pet, people are more likely to start up conversations, making it a nice way to meet people. Take a walk through your community, go to the dog park, go to the dog beach, etc. Don't have a pet, get one or borrow some one elses.
GO DIGITAL: Meetup is a website that allows people to create groups that are formed around interests (travel groups, book clubs, parent groups, dinner clubs, etc). If you don't find something you like, you can start your own. It is a great way to meet people with common interests and often takes minimizes the pressure and awkwardness that can come from meeting strangers and making friends.
GET TO CHURCH: Not only can church feed your soul, but it is also a great conduit to meet people. Go to their events and attend small groups and you are more likely to strike up conversations and connections. Let the church know you just moved here and they can help facilitate getting you introduced around.
JOIN A BOARD: There are usually opportunities to join community association boards to get involved in your immediate neighborhood. If that is too much to take on, there may even be more informal committees (e.g. social committee, architecture committee). Another option is the board at your child's school. These provide a great chance to meet people in close proximity to where you live.
LEARN NEW TRICKS: You are never too old to learn a new skill. Classes can be a great forum to meet others whether it is class in a formal college setting or something specific to an interest (e.g. art class or acting class). It could be a win-win when you learn something and meet people. Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Southwestern State College are both nearby.
EXPLORE THE TOWN: Certainly, it may feel awkward to go out by yourself... but go grab a glass of wine at a popular location and you may be surprised how many people strike up conversations with you, especially if you wear a warm smile. If you have others that can join you, that works too... just don't close yourself off from others that may be interested in meeting people just like you!
SCHEDULE SOME PLAY DATES: Kids are a great way to meet other adults. Take the initiative to schedule an outing or a play-date and invite the parents along. Having kids the same age can really help to establish connections.
Like anything, this is an investment or time and energy and can sometimes take you out of your comfort zone... but putting forth the effort can help accelerate the process, so it is well worth it.