The Trailing Spouse

By Anna Comfort

For a newly relocated couple, Columbia has boundless career potential for both members.

When your partner finds a great work opportunity in a new city, he or she walks into the position with a built-in system of colleagues and potential friends. But starting over can feel a bit more intimidating for the spouse who follows. Read on for some simple ways to put down roots and settle in to your new hometown.

Find a job

As of 2019, Columbia’s unemployment rate stands at less than 3 percent. That puts job seekers at an advantage, with plenty of job opportunities for a relatively small candidate pool. Check out free online job sites, as well as job listings in the Columbia Tribune and the Columbia Missourian newspapers. The University of Missouri, Shelter Insurance, Veterans United Home Loans and the City of Columbia are all large employers in the area. Check their websites for openings. Events hosted by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce can also be great networking resources.

While you’re searching, or if finding a job isn’t part of your plans, volunteering can help you make friends while making a difference. The City of Columbia lists volunteer opportunities on its website. Local nonprofits such as Love Inc. and City of Refuge are always happy to accept help. And yearly festivals such as Roots N Blues N BBQ and the True/False Film Festival offer volunteers awesome freebies and a chance to dig deep into Columbia’s vibrant culture.

Get connected

Making new friends as an adult can be hard. Don’t know anyone in town yet? Ask people on your social network if they have any friends or relatives in the Columbia area. Midwesterners are friendly folk; a shared acquaintance would likely love to show you around town. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your spouse’s new coworkers, either. Chances are, one or two of them was in your shoes once, and they’ll be eager to help you both feel at home.

Explore the city

Services such as Yelp can be great to help you find restaurants, salons and other amenities nearby, but there’s no better way to explore a new city than by hitting the pavement. Stroll through Columbia’s historic downtown, known as The District, and you’ll find fabulous restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. Check the bulletin boards at local coffee shops to learn about community groups and activities. To discover new restaurants, make a rule not to repeat for the first several months you’re in town. That way you’ll get to see more of what’s out there before going back to your favorites.

Pursue your interests

As the cultural hub of mid-Missouri, Columbia has something for everyone. Head to a bike shop to get information on local cycling groups. Check out programs at Daniel Boone Regional Library, and see if the staff can help you find a book club. Join a small group at your place of worship, or take a class at the Columbia Area Career Center. Finding others who share your passions will expand your network of acquaintances and help you feel more at home.