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I Moved to Find a Better Dating Pool

Find out how relocating can help improve your dating life

By Clair McLafferty on October 5, 2015

No matter where you are, dating can be difficult. Depending on where you live, the pool of potential matches may seem too shallow or too deep. In other places, it might seem too spread out, too casual, too serious or just too crazy.

Dating is a challenge even in the cities that made our list of the Best Cities for Singles. In these cities there might be more single people, but it’s still tough to find love. Online dating and social media only widened the number of potential matches. Theoretically, it’s now easier than ever to find people who share your interests. But these tools have also made dating more casual. In practice, finding a compatible mate is almost harder because of the almost overwhelming number of potential mates.

If you’re in a dating rut, getting a fresh start may be just what the doctor ordered. Each person has different factors they must take into account, but for some, moving can be life-changing.

Joye Hehn of Birmingham, Ala., puts it this way: “If you feel like you’re in a rut where you are, shake it up. Moving means you’re shaking up your whole life.”

New City Brings New Options

Being gay and living in a mid-sized city in the South isn’t easy. These factors often result in a small dating pool. Such was the case for 25-year-old Channah Irvin, who moved from Birmingham to Richmond, Va.

“If you have any friends, it’s an even smaller dating pool because a lot of people have dated each other,” Irvin says. “To make it even smaller through all those connections can be kind of uncomfortable.”

She had gone to high school in Birmingham, and many of her long-time friends were still in town. When she tried Match.com, most of her potential connections there didn’t share her priorities. “Birmingham is probably the most forward-thinking city in Alabama,” Irvin says. “But that’s not always saying much.”

She had been thinking about moving for a while, and when her former employer laid off a good number of employees, “it was just kind of the last straw,” she says. “It played a big part in my choice to move.”

It didn’t take her long to settle on the idea of moving to Richmond. “It’s halfway in between my parents,” Irvin says. Since she had gone to college pretty close by, she already had a good group of friends in the city. “It seemed like a good move.”

“There’s a different level of education in Richmond,” she says. “No matter the time of day, there are always people out doing things here. There’s always something drawing people out. Like any college town, you [have to] navigate the party scene if you’re actually trying to date someone and not just hang out.”

Though she hasn’t found anyone special yet, she’s still looking. “The dating pool is a lot larger," she says. "I’ve met a few people, but I haven’t really settled down.”

New City Leads to New Love

After living in Winston-Salem, N.C., for eight years, Joye Hehn felt she needed to make a change. At the time, she was working at an ad agency doing public relations.

“Through that ad agency life, I had the opportunity to meet more than just the average guy down the street,” Hehn says. “On the one hand, it was really great. I enjoyed having the opportunity to experience things that were really outside of what I would consider normal dating.”

Hehn found herself dating local celebrities, but said it came with a down side. After a while, she was almost always recognized as being the woman who dated so-and-so. “After about six months of not getting asked on a date, I thought it was probably time to shake things up a little bit and start something new,” she says.

When she began to think about moving, she didn’t have a specific city in mind. “I took an analytical approach to it,” she says. “I looked at a lot of cities, thinking about places that would have good employment for me and the types of men that I found interesting.”

At the time, her sister and brother-in-law were living in Birmingham. Joye was considering Birmingham, but wanted a reason to visit. “I decided that, as a financially savvy young woman, I wanted a tax deduction [for the visit],” she says. “I came to see her, and also did an interview while I was here. Two weeks later, a local bank packed me up and moved me here.”

Once she’d gotten settled, she started dating again. As an almost-30-year-old woman, she quickly found that the dating scene in Birmingham was very different from Winston-Salem’s. “To move here 30 and single was a challenge,” she says. “Women in Birmingham are seriously dating at much younger ages than in some of the bigger cities I’ve visited or lived in.”

About six months went by without her meeting anyone special. That is, until the day she received a Post-it note that changed her life. During orientation, she’d asked if the bank matched employee donations to artists and charities. After forcefully being told no, she changed the screensaver on her computer to “Art can’t hurt you.”

“I went to lunch one day, and I came back and there was a Post-it note on the middle of my monitor,” Joye says. “It said ‘But what if a performance artist hurls a brick at you?’ That’s all it said.”

Since it wasn’t signed, she puzzled over whether or not to respond. She decided to, and left a Post-it note that said “Consider yourself artistically enhanced and add it to your Christmas card.” This lead to her first face-to-face meeting with Stuart Hehn, who would eventually become her husband.

“[Stuart] liked my answer and thought it was funny, so he came by and introduced himself,” Joye says. On their first date, they hit it off. Joye introduced Stuart to her parents in June. “By the end of June we were engaged, and we were married in December. We’d known each other right at a year.”

“[Moving] changed everything about how I dated,” Joye says. “It just so happened that when I met Stuart, it clicked. Now we’re at 18 years.”

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