How to Meet People and Make Friends in a New City

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Moving to a new city and meeting new people can be a scary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. However, you might have to put in a little bit of effort.

Here are some insights worth considering:

Allen Klein, MA, CSP

Allen Klein

World’s only Jollytologist® | Speaker | TEDx Presenter |
Author, Embracing Life After Loss: A Gentle Guide for Growing through Grief

Wear something colorful, fun and playful

Every month I attend an early morning meeting where I don’t know a single person there. But that hasn’t stopped me from connecting with at least one or two people every time. My secret weapon to accomplish this is that I wear a bright fanciful necktie. Most men don’t wear ties anymore except perhaps for politicians, bankers, and funeral directors, and those are usually pretty bland.

My fun tie often gets a number of compliments which makes it a great ice-breaker and an opening to start a conversation with the other person. This often leads to a spirited encounter and an exchange of business cards. It also means that at the next meeting, I might know at least one more person than I did the month before.

So, my advice to meet new people and possibly make a new friend is to wear something colorful, fun and playful. Even if you don’t connect with anyone, it will help brighten your day.

Adina Mahalli

Adina Mahali

Certified Mental Health Expert | Family Care Professional, Maple Holistics

Small talk

Although small talk is nobody’s idea of a good time, it can be an important aspect of making friends in a new city. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with the barista at your new local coffee place or making an effort to speak with your new colleagues, go out of your way to make conversation with the new faces around you.

The ones who aren’t interested won’t engage, but the ones that are will be impressed you made the effort.

Reconnect with friends

Use your existing contacts as a stepping stool for new connections. Make your move known to those around you and see if you can reconnect with anybody you might already know in this new city, even if it’s just a kid from your elementary school.

Get in touch with them before you even move and set up a coffee date for when you arrive. This will hopefully cause a ripple effect, as this friend will introduce to their friends and so on.

Engage in hobbies

Whether it’s joining a new gym and going to a Zumba class or starting a new hobby entirely, find something in your new city that you can do to organically meet people.

Of course, once you’re at your new class or event you’re still going to have to put yourself out there but surrounding yourself with new potential friends is a step in the right direction. The best part is that you know that you already have something in common!

Margo Regan

Margo Regan

Relationship Expert | Founder, Margo Regan Relationship Counseling Therapy

Join a group such as Meetup.com

This is a website that connects people with similar interests. If you don’t find a group that you like, then you can always start your own group.

Join social groups in work

There are often after-work social evenings that are a good opportunity to meet others where you already have a common shared interest. If you work remotely, then there are often co-working spaces and it may be helpful to connect with others while you work.

Do some volunteering

This is often a great way to meet others. If you are passionate about a particular issue, then perhaps look at what is currently ongoing in your area.

There are many benefits of being part of an active community. If you have social anxiety or shyness, then it may be worth investing with a Life Coach to improve this area of your life.

Related: How to Get Rid of Social Anxiety

Stephanie Thoma

Stephanie Thoma

Networking Strategy Coach | Market Researcher | International Speaker and Writer

To make friends in a new city, the first step is to get out there in real life

Go to talks, events, and meetups that interest you. They can be catered to your existing interests or something entirely new that you’ve been curious to learn more about.

Go solo, or comment on the Facebook events asking if anyone would like to meet up for a meal or drinks before or after the event. Be the friendly person you seek to meet.

Gabrielle Collard

Gabrielle Collard

Life Coach | Founder, The Coach Space

Seek out other newbies

There’s nothing like meeting someone who’s in the same boat as you – for the same reason new mothers stay friends for life with another new mum they met on the maternity ward. Spending time with someone who understands your anxieties without having to explain them is really therapeutic.

So I would suggest joining Facebook or Meetup groups that are for new arrivals, or if they don’t exist, you could start one. If you happen to meet someone you click with and shares your interests – you’ll have struck gold.

Justin Lavelle

Justin Lavelle

Chief Communications Officer, Been Verified

In general, making friends as an adult can be challenging, as work, family, and lack of time are culprits. In order to make friends, you need to step out of your comfort zone and be open-minded. There are a number of ways you can spark a friendship as an adult:

Get to know your coworkers

Like with high school and college, the work forces us to be around people for extended periods of time. For some people, the faces they see when clocking in are the faces they will see until retirement. This is a perfect opportunity to make new friends.

Take the initiative and introduce yourself, eat lunch in the cafeteria (if there is one), attend work events, offer help, and give random acts of kindness. Once you feel ready, ask your coworkers if they would like to hang out after work sometime. Be careful to not force friendship on someone. Otherwise, you may steer them away.

Related: Building Strong Work Relationships

Go to special events

Cities and communities offer a plethora of special events where like-minded people can meet up: concerts, festivals, fairs, business openings, hobby shows, outdoor movies, and even city-wide scavenger hunts. Check your local newspaper or city’s website to find opportunities for social gatherings. Social media, especially Facebook, is another great source to use.

Volunteer

Not only will you give back to your community and feel good doing so, but you will also be surrounded by people in a casual setting that encourages conversation.

This is your chance to build and strengthen your network and put your stamp on a community. You will learn how to connect and empathize with individuals on a deeper level. Furthermore, volunteering helps with increased self-esteem and confidence.

Take your dog for a walk

There is something about our furry friends that catches people’s attention. Taking your dog on regular walks will surely get a person or two stopping you to ask, “May I pet your dog?”

With their attention now on you and your dog, mention that you are new to the area and ask their opinion on places to visit. You may find yourself surprised by the suggestions and dive into other topics. People are more likely to greet you when seeing you with a dog, and you will have more opportunities to spark friendships with neighbors.

Parents of your children’s friends

School-age kids have a knack for making friends easily and quickly so it’s natural that you would be in contact with the parents of their new playmates. Spending time at your kid’s school and participating in the local school and sports carpools are a great way for you to connect with people that are in the same phase of life.

Pursue your hobbies

Whatever it may be: yoga, tennis, running, painting, cooking, etc., get involved in your hobby in your new city and you’ll quickly meet people of similar interests.

Related: What Is Hot Yoga? Is Hot Yoga Good for You? How to Survive a Class?

Jason Patel

jason-patel

Founder, Transizion

Join a social hobby or a hobby that brings people together

This will bring you closer in proximity to people whose interests cross over with yours. Birds of a feather flock together, so this is the first step in finding friends. When you meet at the location your hobby takes place, you automatically know that there’s at least one thing you guys have in common.

Personally, I began training Brazilian Jiujitsu and Muay Thai, which helped me find people who were competitive, soul-searchers, self-improvers, and those who don’t give up easily. I’ve built several strong friends through training martial arts.

Liam Hennessy

Liam Hennessy

Copywriter | Web Developer | Digital Strategist, The Final Monsoon

When spending time in new places, making friends always proves to be one of the bigger challenges. Extroverted people tend to fare better (though not always) but if you’re more on the shy or introverted side of things (like I was when I first moved away on my own), it can be tough.

Related: How To Be More Social If You Are Introverted

However, there are a couple of things I’ve tried throughout the years whenever I found myself living somewhere new. These may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I hope everyone will at least find one of them useful.

Online communities & local meet up groups

This may be obvious, but the Internet really has revolutionized our lives. This method isn’t just good for those who have moved to a new town. It’s really a great way for anyone who wants to expand their circle of friends, network or just meet new people and gain new perspectives.

It’s something of a more modern version of “Join clubs/societies to meet new people!”. Clubs and societies are great, but not all of us are interested in line-dancing. Plus, they often come with fees and other investments (both time and money).

Not everyone has these in great supply, so joining a few meet up groups and going to gatherings when you have the time is an excellent way to create a new social outlet when you’re fresh off the plane.

In addition, If you do have specific interests (like a faith group, an exercise group, etc.) look those up and see if you can join!

Consider socializing outside of work hours from time to time

I’ll admit this isn’t for those who like to keep work and private life separate (myself included, which is why I prefer to work remotely). For those of us that do, however, spending time with your colleagues can be a good way of getting to know the city and even starting conversations with other people that you might while you’re out and about!

If possible, get someone from home to act as a “buddy”

If you have a friend from home visiting for a while, why not go out together? I’ve always found it easier to get chatting to new people when I had someone else with me. You could think of them maybe as your “wingman” but for making friends.

Don’t be afraid to go out by yourself

Take a book and go down to your local coffee shop. Be open to chatting with new people. When trying to make new friends, try to meet as many new people as possible. Statistically, it’s likely you’ll hit it off with a few of them and they’ll stick.

If you’re like me and enjoy a drink or two, head out to a bar that you like the feel of. People go to socialize in bars, so they’ll be a lot more open to meeting new people. It is understandable that some people may not be comfortable with this, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bar.

Read those event flyers

They often advertise different events happening around the locality. Again, don’t be afraid to go to them and get chatting to people (no one will think you’re weird, you have an excuse – you’re new in town!). If you’re really unsure about going by yourself, tie it in with the “buddy” technique if you can.

Say “Yes” to invitations

This is simple but overlooked. If you meet people you hit it off with, don’t turn down their invitations in lieu of Netflix and pizza. If its an event like a dinner party or a games evening, there will be other people there. You may actually like some of them.

Consider going to a games café or joining board game events

I am a bit of introvert, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not at all a fan of board games (I prefer to talk to people and have a few drinks). However, I’ve seen this method work really well for some of my more board game-loving friends. Since you’ll be concentrating on a task, you’ll have less time to worry about being anxious and more time to focus on doing something.

I’ve used all of these methods to meet new people and they’ve always been a great way to encounter new faces.

Before I go on, I’d advise people to continue connecting with and meeting new people if they have the time for it.

This is especially important in cities and towns where the population tends to be more “transient” (i.e., college towns).

Another thing I will add is that making new friends is actually very similar to dating – online or offline.

The initial meeting is a numbers game. However, you’ll eventually whittle it down to a few people you’ll probably meet more regularly and become a lot closer to.

At this stage, it’s important to just see how things go. Don’t be afraid to be more “active” – many people tend to be passive but are happy to come along to social events if they’re invited. You won’t come off as clingy if you regularly invite people. It’s just important not to pressure people – if someone consistently turns down your invites, maybe don’t focus on them so much. No one likes having their phone blown up!

People and friendships are of course different and come in many flavors. At this stage, you basically have to trust your instincts and know what kind of friendship it is. Remember, don’t forget to get to know the entire person. A good bit of empathy, understanding, and respect works wonders.

Not everyone will be able to hang out with you all the time and that’s okay! You can keep your social busy during “slow” times by simply going to groups or events by yourself now and then.

Opportunities to meet new people and make new friends are all around us – we just need to know where the opportunities are and grab them!

Rebecca Sutton

Rebecca Sutton

Founder, The Solo Coach

It has been a major struggle to meet friends, both men, and women.

A major hurdle for me is that I’m single and have no children, so it can be an even bigger challenger to meet people in a new city. When you do make friends, they often have spouses and children, so fostering something deep and the long term might be met with barriers because there are such are differences in lifestyles.

Try to make friends who have similar lifestyles as you

That can mean the LGBTQ community, singles mixers, or working professionals. Finding others on common ground is hard unless you really put yourself out there, which is what I do, and suggest to others. But do it with purpose and a plan.

Get out there

Where can you find these newfound friends? My method, as I said, is getting out there. When I first moved, I immediately signed up for meetup.com. I live outside of a major city, about 40 minutes south, so most of the events I went to were up there, but worth it! I got in on singles meetups, networking meetups, women’s meetups, all of it. I immediately made acquaintances and some actual friends.

When I saw an opening to run a meetup group closer to home, I jumped on the chance. This led to even more friendships, and they were easier to facilitate because they are closer to home. Also, getting involved with other structured events, like local causes, clubs, and volunteer opportunities really gets things rolling. You can learn about your new surroundings and meet likeminded people!

Devon Horace

Devon Horace

Owner, Horace Consulting

Use social media groups

When I moved from NYC to Portland, OR I didn’t have any friends. In order for me to start building a network I used social media groups and searched for topics that I was interested in. For example, there is a young black professional group chat on Instagram and GroupMe.

Through these sites, people talk about events happening in the city, planning events and group meetups and dropping job applications for those looking for employment. A lot of these groups have networking events where you can go and meet a bunch of like-minded people and from there you try to build relationships.

I noticed when I first got here, the more events/outings I attended the more I was able to build relationships with people. Some people don’t talk much in a chat, which is fine, but when you meet someone in person you may feel a little more comfortable having a conversation.

If you’re moving to a new city and want to build relationships, I would recommend searching Facebook, Instagram and finding GroupMe chat groups for you to join. Search for a specific topic or ethnicity group that you can relate to and you’re interested in.

Robert S. Herbst

Robert Herbst

Personal Trainer | Weight Loss & Wellness Coach | World Champion Powerlifter

Join a gym, pool, running club, sports league, and the like

You will automatically be around people who share the same interests in sports, fitness, and health and will see them in a casual, low key environment. It will be easy to break the ice and start a conversation that could lead to friendship.

Gabi Garrett

Gabi Garrett

Writer | Content Strategist | Podcast Host, Kicked Out of Your Comfort Zone

I moved only an hour away from family and friends almost two years ago, and no matter what anyone tells you, it is certainly a challenge to enter a new environment!

However, as they say, if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. So, here’s my advice on making it fun to meet new people:

Take your work to a local coffee shop and chat with others

Ask the person next to you, “What are you working on?” and even ask for their recommendations on their favorite place to grab lunch.

Join an exercise group

There’s no better way to sweat off your nerves and meet likeminded people than doing what you love. If you’re a yogi, go to yoga! If you’re a runner, look for a run club. But, since you’re already out of your comfort zone in a brand new city – I’d suggest you don’t do something totally new right off the bat. Stick with an exercise you love and I’m sure you’ll meet a sweet friend to have coffee with afterward.

If you head out to dinner, try sitting at the bar

Even if you don’t order a drink, it’s nice to rub elbows and get to know your neighbors.

But, most of all, be patient with yourself! It took you months, or even years to meet your current crop of friends so allow this process to unfold naturally.

Lee McMillan

Lee McMillan

Founder & CEO, Peak Season

Be nice

This seems obvious, but it is supremely important to be friendly, positive, and helpful to others. This simple principle will lead to relationships that form themselves naturally.

Find common ground

Wherever you move, I promise there are people who are interested in the same things you are. In Aspen, I bonded with friends who loved the outdoors as much as I did.

In New York, we had a group of friends who grew up in the South. Tokyo was the most interesting to me because all it took was speaking English. The experience of living there was so bizarre, that you could find common ground with any expat no matter where they were from. I had close friends from the UK, France, Australia, and even a couple from Iraq.

Get involved

Meeting people is not a spectator sport. You have to get involved. So find meetup groups or clubs (Facebook is a useful resource) and show up and introduce yourself. As long as you act naturally and be yourself, you’ll make lasting connections in your new home.

Follow those three principles and you’ll be just fine.

Karen Hoxmeier

Karen Hoxmeier

Founder, MyBargainBuddy

When I moved from California to Colorado in 2015, I only knew the man I was marrying. While he is a great guy and my best friend, I knew I’d need to get out there and make new friends. Below are my tips.

Meet your neighbors

Introduce yourself, host a potluck, start a book club, a walking group or strike up conversations at the local dog park.

Join special interest groups

Meetup.com is a great way to find locals interested in the same things you are. This could be a small business, gardening, parenting, pets, hobbies, just about anything.

Volunteer

You can meet a lot of great people by volunteering and you’ll be making a difference.

Take classes

My local city-owned rec center has classes year-round on everything from cooking to crafting to computers. Taking a class is a great way to learn something new and meet new friends.

Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan

Operating Officer, Suddora

When moving to a new city it can feel difficult to meet new people and make new friends. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

When I moved to Taiwan to live and work over 10 years ago not only did I have a culture and language barrier to overcome but also making new friendships. This is what I did.

Join physical activity groups

As a fitness enthusiast myself I joined an outdoor running group that met twice per week. This was very relaxed and helped me meet like-minded people who shared my interest.

Go out with co-workers

Secondly, I made sure to join any out of work gatherings to meet co-workers friends. It’s amazing how quickly you can meet people through work.

Take classes

I joined a language and culture class that helped me better understand the locality and its ways of life. Of course, this depends on which city you go to but if you moving abroad this can be an awesome way to feel more integrated and meet new friends.

Vi Nguyen

Vi Nguyen

Co-founder and CEO, Homads

There are 40 million people who move every year and our research shows that 85% of those people are unhappy with where they originally relocated. The problem is that most people don’t take into consideration that where they live affects 70% of their well-being and health.

Research on demographics and psychographics before moving

Most people have so many logistical decisions to make when they’re moving that they neglect to pay attention to the things that would be most important for their social lives. It’s easier to make friends with people in a new city if you’re living in an area where people like doing similar activities as you or have similar interests.

For example, if you’re a runner, it may be an important thing to consider when moving to a new city to have access to a trail. You’ll likely find people who care about the same things as you if you make these things a priority.

Typically people only concentrate on “how much can I afford?,” “How big of a house do I need?” and “Is it close to work or the kid’s school?”

We found that we could help people who were moving make better decisions by using machine learning with datasets based on demographics and psychographics. Where you live and the community you have is the easiest way to make friends in a new city.

Ludovica Mascaretti

Ludovica Mascaretti

Practice Development Manager | Youtube Blogger, LivingLaVidaLudo

Joining a class or course of anything that interests you

It can be like a language course or dance class or yoga or cooking classes, etc. These are great opportunities to meet people with similar interests, and doing something you like together, over a period of time, will bring you closer.

It is then up to you to be proactive and invite the people you are interested in or getting closer to, to some other activity or event or dinner. If you are living abroad, I would recommend starting with a language class, to learn the local language – this way you’ll meet fellow expats, too!

Share a flat

If you are a young professional with little free time or no set schedule, it might be tricky to subscribe to an activity or class. In these cases, I would consider sharing a flat. Coming home to someone to talk to or to share a meal with, makes you feel less lonely.

You can also throw dinner parties together or housewarmings, and your flatmates can surely introduce you to friends of friends, especially if they’ve been living there longer than you.

Attend random events

Another suggestion is to challenge yourself to venture out of your comfort zone, going to random events you wouldn’t normally consider going. It’s a great way to try something you and to find out what is going on in your city in general, as well as to get to know people – going out by yourself makes you more prone to get to know other people!

You can find out about these on facebook, simply looking for events near you, or in a specific city. Even if you can’t go to an event, I recommend clicking “interested” or event checking who the organizer of the event is.

It is often other facebook pages or groups, that you might not know about yet – so by liking their pages, as well as liking facebook pages of bars, cafés or other places you like in general, you’ll see when these will organize future events you might be interested in.

To find events and activities I love using apps like Meetup or Couchsurfing, or Eventbrite. You can often find free events, meet fellow travelers or people with similar interests! For expats, Internations (the leading network & guide for expats in 420 cities worldwide) works well to meet fellow expats around the world and to get or share advice.

Utilize “Localization” tools

If you are into social media, Instagram and Youtube now have a “localization” tool, that tags the location where that story/photo/video was shot. From a location, you can go back to who published the video from there in the first place, probably a local or someone who’s been there.

Linkedin is also a great tool to find out for example who studied at your university and now lives in your city, or who studied what you studied or worked where you worked and now lives where you live. What I do is I message these people to get their views and advice on places to go, eat, visit, explore, life/work experiences, expat life.

This is a great conversation starter that can lead to better knowing the place you live in, but also to create personal or professional connections, that perhaps can lead to meetings, and even friendships.

Actually, a big part of my Italian friends here in Brussels come from Youtube: it’s either people who used to watch my videos (in Italian, about Brussels) and then came across me somewhere in the city and started to talk to me, or followers that have started to comment or people that I followed and then messaged, or friends of followers/viewers. It might sound weird or creepy, but hey – this is the millennial way!

Have a pet

Having a pet (ideally a dog, to walk in the park) also helps to meet other pet-owners and pet-lovers, as well as finding someone that can dogsit while you’re away (and vice-versa)!

Alumni events

I also recommend checking whether your university has an alumni association in your city, that meets up from time to time or organizes alumni events.

Stephanie Conway

Stephanie Conway

Digital Nomad | Founder, Symphony Virtual Assistant Studio

Join social media groups

The internet is a fantastic way to make friends and meet people in a new city. From local Facebook groups to the friends’ version of Bumble, to online Meetup groups, there’s a multitude of online opportunities to meet and connect with people in your area.

If meeting up with complete strangers sounds like too much, you could always ask your existing friends on social media if they have any friends in your new area, and if they can make an introduction.

Getting connected with friends of friends is a great way to plug into social circles within a new place, and gives you something to talk about – ie, your friend in common! Consider posting a ‘looking for recommendations’ status on Facebook, or post to your IG story to see who knows who. You might have friends of friends that are ready to meet you!