With many of us spending an average of 47 hours a week at work, meeting new people can be hard. Sometimes you’re so tired the last thing you want to do is go to a crowded bar and shell out a bunch of money for drinks — all in the hopes of meeting someone.
What you really want to do is stay home with Netflix, and while that’s relaxing and doesn’t cost any money, your next date isn’t going to knock on the door, interrupt your “House of Cards” binge, and sweep you off your feet. You’re going to have to get out there, so I’ve put together a list of ways to help you. Here’s how to meet local singles — for free!
1. Online Dating Sites & Apps
Online dating is the easiest and best way to meet local singles, hands down. There are millions of people using online dating, and there are dozens of sites to choose from — most of which allow you to search for matches by zip code and mile radius (e.g., 10, 50, or 100+ miles). A lot of dating sites also offer free trials and/or free memberships that include these helpful search tools and more, such as instant messaging.
Match.com: The Best Overall
With its large user base (over 13.5 million visits a month), unbeatable reputation (has led to more dates, relationships, and marriages than any other dating site), and all-inclusive trial, Match is my favorite free site to meet local singles. Not only does the site have the specific search filters you’re looking for, but it also has features like being able to see who’s online now.
Zoosk: A Go-To Dating App
Zoosk is the best app to meet local singles in my opinion, particularly because it’s integrated with Facebook. This makes it easy to sign up, upload your info, and find people near you — all without having to whip out your wallet.
BeNaughty: Great for Hookups
If you’re looking to hook up with someone nearby, BeNaughty is one of my top picks. You can browse profiles in any town for free, and everyone is on the same page — no need to feel bad for being straightforward about your desires.
2. Through Family, Friends, or Co-Workers
Whether it’s your mom, best friend, or HR manager, probably everyone in your life knows at least one single person they could introduce you to. It doesn’t cost any money and shouldn’t be embarrassing to ask for their help. Plus, they know you and what you’re looking for in a date, so they’ll be able to find that right person, taking the hard work off your shoulders.
Once they do set you up with someone, just focus on having fun — it doesn’t have to be anything more than that. Instead of putting pressure on the date to be perfect, enjoy getting to know someone new. If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, you’ve made a new friend who may know someone who would be a better match. See, it’s a chain reaction.
3. Pick Up a Hobby
From painting to sports to cooking to writing, there are tons of groups out there that offer activities for free. You can either find a new hobby or get better at one you’re already interested in.
The best place to find these local groups is Meetup.com, whose whole goal is to bring neighbors together “to learn something, do something, share something.” Just like the dating sites, Meetup lets you pick your preferred location and activity, so you can narrow the search down as much as you want. People can also post events where only singles are invited, so keep an eye out for those.
If Meetup isn’t your thing, you could also just Google something like “free cooking classes New York City,” and you’ll see a bunch of results from sites like Yelp and Groupon.
When I say “parties,” I don’t necessarily mean all-night ragers or anything like that. A party could be that, or it could be a backyard barbecue, house-warming, or game night. It’s OK if you aren’t a big partier because small gatherings like these are still good for meeting people. You also actually get to talk to the person and hear what they’re saying — something you can’t really do in a loud club.
Get into “Yes Man” mode and go to as many parties as possible when invited. Believe me, it works. I met my last boyfriend at a party that I didn’t want to go to, but I made myself, had an awesome time, and ended up dating him for the next several years.
5. Community Events
There are free events going on in your city or town all the time — you just have to know how to find them. Again, our trusty friend Google comes in handy. Typing in “free things to do in [enter your city]” will bring up so many options (e.g., music and art festivals, gallery openings, and museum exhibits) that you could fill up your social calendar for the rest of your life and still not get to them all.
Volunteering provides the best opportunity for meeting local singles who share your same values. You also get to do something nice for your community, and who doesn’t love that?
Let’s say you really love animals. You could spend a Saturday at your local Humane Society helping dogs and cats find their forever home — while also interacting with the people looking to adopt and those who work there. If you’re passionate about LGBT activism, organizations like The Human Rights Campaign hold fundraisers and rallies all the time. It’s easier to start a conversation with someone and eventually ask them out if you’re both in the middle of doing something that reflects your similar views on life.
For religious or spiritual people, going to church is a fantastic option for meeting like-minded singles, and it doesn’t just have to be a Sunday service either. Most churches and religious organizations do bible studies or other group classes at least once a week and have activities going on several times a month. These can be a lot of fun, and the people are very welcoming as well.
If dating or marrying someone who has the same religious or spiritual beliefs is important to you (or even a deal-breaker), find a place that will help you find that person. A quick search like “religious organizations near me” should help.
Pick Your Favorite & Get Out There!
Now that I’ve given you 7 ideas for where to meet local singles (for free, too), all you have to do is choose the one that works best for you and head out the door. “House of Cards” will still be there when you get home!
Photo sources: meetup.com, nicolekent.com