I’ve moved around a LOT throughout my 20s and even early 30s (actually since I was a kid). I had to start over and learn how to make friends in a new city each time. Each city has its vibe and personality. In some places, it’s easy to go out and chat it up with strangers; others prove to be much more difficult.
As you get older, you notice that many people have settled into their “permanent lives.” They are where they will 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. It becomes harder to figure out how to make friends in a new city and meet new people in those instances. You are 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, they will help you!
First, Get Comfortable Being With Yourself
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, 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 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
The most straightforward strategy when figuring out how to make friends in a new city is to meet people through work. It’s more difficult when you’re older; however, take it if you get an invitation to hang out. Chatting with people outside of the workplace can be very revealing, and often you’ll form a better connection away from the stress and beauracracy that the workplace brings. Even if you aren’t sure if you want to go, it’s better to go and see.
Even if you don’t get invitations to hang out outside of work, make an effort to chat with co-workers and get to know them. Ask them for recommendations for things to do or neighborhoods to check out. Sometimes, people live in a city for so long that they never actually spend any time or effort doing the touristy stuff; however, they might take the opportunity with you.
Ask Your Friends to Introduce You to People They May Know
Sometimes the best way to meet new friends is through ones you already have. Some of the first people I met when I first moved to southern California were through mutual friends. As you get older, your network expands, and it’s common to find mutual friends almost wherever you go. If there’s someone who is 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. One way to do this is to join local Facebook groups that advertise activities and events. It’s a great way to make friends in a new city with the same interests as you!
Another way to do this if you’re unsure where to begin is to join Meetups.com. It is interest group focused. You sign up, create a profile of your interests, 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 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.
If you’re unfamiliar with it: there’s an app called Bumble. It is 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 that, as a female, you can avoid unsolicited messages, and also, the time limits ensure that someone is interested and capable of making an effort.
Bumble BFF is a variation in that you “swipe for friends,” and you can tailor your profile to what you’re looking for. For instance, if you want a buddy to do activities with, go to the gym, go out for hikes, etc., 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 is 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 to get out of the house.
However, I do suggest that if you go on dates (with people you’re 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. While this is not something I suggest you do right off the bat when figuring out how to make friends in a new city, 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 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. These events can help you pursue your career goals and help you meet like-minded people.
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 get out of the house and give back (thus increasing happiness and life satisfaction) and meet new people in your neighborhood and community.
You never know how people in your community are connected 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, spend time at a local shelter. This way, when you make new friends, you already have common interests to build off!
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 to have something to do. While it’s hard to adapt to life-changing events and get settled into a new place and challenging to go it alone, you will only worsen your overall emotional health 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 genuine. Everything happens for a reason, and you will figure it all out. 🙂