I’ve moved around a LOT throughout my 20s and even early 30s (actually since I was kid). Each time I had to start over and learn how to make friends in a new city. Each city has its own vibe and personality. Some places are super easy to go out and just chat it up with strangers; others prove to be much more difficult.
Plus as you get older, you realize that many people have settled into their “permanent lives”. This is where they are going to stay forever, and they are busy dealing with their families and are much more focused on creating a core group of friends that mimic their own lives. In those instances, it becomes so much harder to figure out how to make friends in a new city, because you are essentially shunned for being either single, or only being there temporarily.
So how do you make friends in a new city? I’ll share some of my experiences, and hopefully, it will help you!
First, Get Comfortable Being With Yourself
This is the most important thing to remember. You are better off being alone than being with people who don’t make you feel welcome, or who are not interested in forming a real relationship with you. I’m not just alluding to romantic relationships. Bad friendships can also take a toll on your self-esteem and drain your energy.
Instead, first, just acclimate to your new city and get familiar with your new surroundings. Get used to wandering around by yourself. Step out of your comfort zone and go out by yourself. Moving to a new city and being by yourself is an opportunity and you should take it to get comfortable with yourself and get reacquainted with things that YOU love to do.
In addition, when you do this, you become less dependent on others to fill your time…which then lends itself to not coming across as desperate or lonely, both of which will make it harder for you to make friends in a new city.
Get to Know People Through Work
This is probably the most straightforward strategy when you’re figuring out how to make friends in a new city, but again, it’s hard when you’re older. However, slowly get to know people you work with. If you get an invitation to hang out, take it. Even if you aren’t sure if you want to go, its better to go and see. Chatting with people outside of the workplace can be very revealing and oftentimes you’ll form a better connection away from the stress and beauracracy that the workplace brings with it.
Even if you don’t get invitations to hang out outside of work, make an effort to just chat with co-workers and get to know them. Ask them for recommendations for things to do or neighborhoods to check out. I’ve done this with a resulting, “oh, I’ll go with you!”. Sometimes, people live in a city for so long, they never actually spend any time or effort doing the touristy stuff; however, with you, they might take the opportunity.
Ask Your Friends to Introduce You to People They May Know
Some of the first people I met when I first moved to southern California were through other friends I had. As you get older, your network expands and it’s common to find mutual friends almost wherever you go. Take a chance and reach out to them. Chances are if there’s someone who’s a friend with your friend, then you may have enough in common with them to be friends with them as well.
Join Interest Groups
Hopefully, as you spend more time by yourself, you’ll get reacquainted with your favorite hobbies and pastimes, or even pick up new ones. Use that as an opportunity to join interest groups or clubs. It’s a great way to make friends in a new city that have the same interests as you!
Another way to do this, if you’re unsure where to begin is to join Meetups.com. Its interest group focused. You sign up, create a profile of interests that you have and then look for events or “meetups” in your area. Whenever there is a meetup, you can join!
I have never done this. With all my dating woes, I absolutely refuse to swipe for friends. However, I know people who have done this and have successfully used it to make friends in a new city they moved to.
If you’re unfamiliar with it: there’s an app called Bumble. Its primarily for dating and what makes it different than Tinder or any of the other swiping apps is that when you match with someone, the girl has to make the first move/send a message first. She has 24 hours to do so otherwise the match disappears. Then, the guy has 24 hours to respond, otherwise, again, the match disappears. It’s nice in that as a female you can avoid unsolicited messages, and also the time limits ensures that someone is actually interested and capable of making an effort.
Bumble BFF is a variation of this in that you “swipe for friends” and you can tailor your profile to what you’re looking for. For instance, if you just want a buddy to do activities with, go the gym, out for hikes etc, then you can specify that. Since I’ve not done it, I’m not sure if there’s a time limit to responding, but as I mentioned, I know people who have used this successfully and it’s certainly an avenue to explore when you’re trying to figure out how to make friends in a new city. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t work and you can move on to other efforts.
Be Friends With Those You Date
One thing I will say, don’t use dating to fill your time and social calendar. I have done this, and it’s so NOT worth it. Your free time is a precious commodity and you should protect it and not waste it with people for the sake of getting out of the house.
However, I do suggest that if you go on dates (with people you’re actually interested in meeting), then use that as an opportunity to get to really know them. If for whatever reason it doesn’t work out, then try and see if you can stay friends. This is not something I suggest you do right off the bat when figuring out how to make friends in a new city; but it is something you can start to consider once you’ve settled in and gotten to a place where, back to point 1, you are comfortable being with yourself.
Attend Networking Events
Sometimes the question of “how to make friends in a new city” is really secondary to why you moved to a new city in the first place. For many of us, we move because of career opportunities.
Building upon that, depending on your career trajectory and interests, you should attend networking events in your area related to future goals and plans. This is a great way to help you pursue the career you really want, and also can introduce to you individuals on the same intellectual level as you. Through networking, you may learn of other avenues that will help you to continue your path to make friends in a new city.
Volunteering your time is a great way to not only get out of the house and give back (thus increasing happiness and life satisfaction) but also to meet people in your neighborhood and community.
You never know who people in your community know and how they can help you in your quest to make friends. Again, focus on volunteering activities that align with your interests. For instance, if you love animals, then spend time at a local shelter. This way, when you do make new friends, you already have common interests to build off of!
What I don’t Recommend
Don’t hang out with people who bring you down, make you feel bad or have no common interests as you, for the sake of having something to do. While it’s hard adapting to change and getting settled into a new place, and tough to go it alone, you will only make it worse when you spend time with the wrong people.
Even if it’s lonely, allow yourself time to yourself, focus on being the lady boss you want to be, and when you do make an effort, go where you feel the connections are real and genuine. Everything happens for a reason and you will figure it all out. 🙂