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Building a rural support network

Building a rural support network

Small towns can be great places to live, work and play. But for those new to the area – and new to country living overall – making friends can be tricky with fewer social groups and possibilities available. You want to walk down the main street and have everybody know your name. Becoming that person ain’t so easy though but don’t despair!

Begin with…

Firstly, be kind to yourself. You had plenty of pals who cared about you when you were in the city so there’s nothing to say you won’t find a similar network in the country. It may take some time though and you might have to use different ways and means to those of your old metropolis. Don’t be shy. Be patient, brave and confident without being proud or vain. Aim to listen rather than talk and always show you’re interested in becoming part of the community. Internet connections may not be reliable in your country town and even if they are, aim to make contacts one-on-one and face-to-face. Chat to your neighbours and tell them you’re a newcomer from the city keen to make friends. Read your local newspaper or library bulletin board and get to know what’s happening in town. There could be a church picnic, town fair or mayoral election this weekend. Or everyone is airing their two cents worth about a big controversial issue. Big or small, get involved with events and issues that matter. You’re part of this community now and locals appreciate newbies – especially those from the city – supporting the town. Just don’t parade uninformed opinions around the area!

Regularity is key

As with any quest anywhere to find friends, finding a place to regularly meet people is your ultimate starting point. Visit the same café every morning for a coffee, or the same general store for your weekly grocery shop. While you’re visiting these places and chatting to employees and shop owners, ask them about church choirs, book clubs, sports groups, or arts and crafts societies that you could join. Regular shared activities like these are fantastic places for acquiring buddies. Also think about expanding your talents and signing up for a completely different activity such as bushwalking or painting. Ask your new work colleagues about local clubs. You may find you share the same interests or at the very least, they may invite you to get togethers or dinner parties with their friends.

Hold on to old mates

If you’re feeling particularly lonesome, or simply finding it harder than you imagined to find friends – even though you love your new home – don’t be afraid to contact old city mates. Tell them about your concerns and enjoy their love, support and encouragement. If they have a holiday coming up, invite them for a visit. Stepping into the local pub on a weekend is never as scary when you have a reliable friend beside you. And keep on reminding yourself that you’re a worthwhile person who has been a great friend in the past and will be again in your new town.

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Tara Searle

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