After years of planning, Ellen and David Comisar, moved from Rochester, New York, to Florida for retirement. When they arrived at their new home in July, they didn't know anyone — and because of COVID-19 quarantines and social distancing, they weren't likely to meet anyone, either.
"No one's having the kinds of gatherings where we might even connect with friends of friends,” says Ellen of her new Del Ray Beach community. “It's concerning.”
Under the best of circumstances, moving to a new place is challenging. Meeting people when you're over age 50 — especially when you may not have children in school or are no longer going to an office — adds another layer of difficulty. But the pandemic, with its restrictions on group activities and limits to in-person interactions has made it even tougher. Yet there are ways to make connections.
Find common interests
Ellen, 60, who was a writer in the financial services sector, has checked out whether the local library has a virtual book club. She also has joined a virtual, local business networking group. David, 57, a therapist still working with clients via telehealth, has been going to their community's gym, which remains open.
While they didn’t know many people when they moved, they did have some relatives and friends of friends who made them feel less lonely.
Connecting with people who have common interests is a time-honored tactic. “Finding others with an interest in something you enjoy can be a great way to break the ice and interact with a new community,” says Nashville-based GinaMarie Guarino, a licensed mental health counselor, who works mainly with adults.
Of course, during the pandemic that may mean utilizing social media. “Something as simple as joining a Facebook group can be enough to open up opportunities to meet new people and make new friends with common interests,” Guarino says.