Photo: Look Studio/Shutterstock

How to Make Friends When You Move to a New City

by Zibby Wilder Mar 5, 2019

Moving to a new city can be daunting. Getting used to unfamiliar sights, smells, landmarks, traffic patterns, and even local customs, can really push you outside of your comfort zone. To get back in the game, and start making a life for yourself in a new place, you need friends. Sometimes easier said than done, meeting new people can be a lot of fun, and finding companionship can introduce you to the things that make your new city great. If you’re feeling a little lonely, here’s how to make friends when you move to a new city.

1. Find a Meetup.

People holding surfboards

Photo: Meetup/Facebook

With over 225,000 Meetup groups in 180 countries, there’s a Meetup group for just about every interest. If you already like doing something, like group road biking, surfing, or knitting, a Meetup group is a great way to find a new flock. Another option is to try something new and see who you might meet along the way. Meetup groups can keep your social life very busy and intellectually stimulating, not to mention help you find your place in your new place.

2. Swipe right.

One of the easiest ways to make connections is to put the word out on social networks to see if any of your friends know, and can introduce you to, someone in your new city. If you come up empty, apps such as Bumble BFF and Friender allow you to build a profile based around your interests, which matches you to people looking for new friends that share those interests. There may be other folks new to town, and exploring with someone who’s also testing the ropes for the first time can be a great way to get to know your new city and make a new friend.

3. Join a volunteer organization.

There’s hardly a better way to meet people with interests aligned with yours than by volunteering. Once you identify an issue you would like to help with — homelessness, animals, the environment — there are myriad ways to get involved, and most involve other people. Whether it’s sitting around a table stuffing envelopes and chatting, doing park or trail clean up, or walking shelter dogs, you’re guaranteed to meet like-minded folks, all while doing something good for your new community.

4. Go to the dog park.

Girl playing with a dog

Photo: Helen Sushitskaya/Shutterstock

Assuming you like animals, as many people do, a trip to the dog park can be a great way to meet people — even if you don’t have a dog. Greeting an animal before its person takes a little bit of the pressure off of just walking up to people with a cold open. Plus, pets are good for your health so, even if you aren’t successful making friends right away, at least you might come away from the experience with lower blood pressure and reduced levels of stress.

5. Take a class.

Whether at the gym or at a local learning center or college, taking a class isn’t just personal improvement, it can be a great way to meet people. Hands-on classes like dance or cooking guarantee you’ll meet some new folks; even specific job training can lead to networking opportunities. If you are an expert at something other people might be interested in, maybe consider teaching a class through one of these outlets.

6. Attend a community event.

From marches and rallies to auctions and fundraisers, community events bring together large groups of people who believe in a common cause. Because most such events are “feel-good” things, it’s a lot easier to introduce yourself and strike up multiple conversations when you’re doing something you love — and so is everyone else.

7. Shop local.

Business partners stand behind the counter at a coffee shop

Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Good food, art, and music are some of the things that attract people to community and farmers markets. They’re also things that bring people together. Chatting with a band after a set, asking an artist about their work, or getting advice from a farmer about how to prepare local foods that may be new to you, are great ways to make friends. Put your email on these folks’ mailing lists and, pretty soon, you’ll find yourself invited to all kinds of get-togethers. New friends won’t be far behind.

8. Just say “hi.”

Many times, our lives are so frantic we barely have time to notice who lives right next door. Being the new person on the block is a great excuse to knock on the doors of a few neighbors, introduce yourself, and maybe discover some kindred spirits. If you live in an apartment or condo building with a common area, throw yourself a housewarming happy hour party. A couple of posters and a few bottles of wine are an easy investment in your new community. If nothing else, you might meet someone who can check on your fish when you’re out and about exploring your new city.

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