How to Make Friends When You Move to a New City

A group of men and women who learned how to make friends in a new city, hugging and laughing with each other as they hang out.

For most of your life, it was probably pretty easy to make friends. You took a class with them, met them at intramural sports, heck, your parents set you up on playdates. But after you finish school, it gets a bit harder. People are busy with work, family, or whatever else life has to throw at them. They flake, ghost, or worse they don’t show up in places where you can even meet them, making the task of meeting new friends seem almost impossible. If you want to kick the difficulty up a couple notches, try making friends in a city you just moved to.

When you’re all alone in a new city, you’ve got to hustle to meet people. Make no mistake—it’s not easy—but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible and it certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to improve your chances.

1. Go back to school, sort of.
I know. Making friends was easier back in school. Well, that’s okay. Just do it again. Sort of. Take a skill-based class in your area. Want to brush up on your baking skills? Great. Or maybe you’re ready to finally take that salsa class. There’s no time like the present. Any sort of class involving a craft is a great way to meet people. The actual activity takes any pressure off the need for conversation, and in beginner classes everybody is learning from scratch. You’re all along for the ride, both the small successes and the laughably bad mistakes. If things don’t work out with your new friends, at least you’ve checked something off your bucket list.

2. Meet up or pack up.
We’re in the internet age, so you may as well use it. Meetup is one of the best social networks, because it’s all about meeting in person. Most cities will have a decent amount groups meeting for every interest imaginable from birdwatching to fishing to fashion. No need to be an expert in any of these subjects, and the best part is meeting people is kind of the point.

3. Hit the books.
Go to your local bookstore or community center and ask about any book clubs locals might be running. Book clubs are a great way to meet people, because they bring together people over a simple love of books and they encourage discussion, which will quickly help you get to know and understand the values and opinions of your fellow club members. Not to mention, you all get to go through the journey of the story together.

4. Give back to the community.
Nothing brings people together like community, and nothing says community like volunteering. In any city, there are always people in need that could use your help. Whether it’s your local soup kitchen, food bank, or pro bono tutoring for children in underserved communities, finding an opportunity to make a meaningful difference is easy. And, of course, you already share one important thing with everyone else you meet: you all love to give back. If you’re looking for a goodhearted folks to start a new friend group, this is a good place to start.

5. Mix just a little bit of work and play.
There’s a good chance if you moved to a new city, it’s for work. While it’s still advisable to keep some parts of your personal life separate from work, there’s no rule saying you can’t hang with your coworkers at all. Organizing exercise classes, gameday viewing parties, or a night out are all good ways to toe-dip into the company culture. Your coworkers just might become your new friend group.

6. Show up to the show.
If you want to meet people who like what you like, go do the things that you like. Almost every metropolitan area has some sort of music or art scene and attending a concert, play, or gallery opening are all great for meeting local artists and fans. Most of these events are highly social affairs and have built in conversation buffers in the event at hand. Not to mention, potential friends usually get a little more social after a drink or two.

Making new friends and moving to a new city are both hard tasks. Making new friends in a new city can seem near impossible but it is doable. It takes time and energy, so give yourself both of those. If it doesn’t happen immediately, keep putting yourself out there. That’s how it starts.

Alex Bocknek

Alex Bocknek is the senior editor of The Date Mix and works at Zoosk, the online dating service. He’s also a recovering music critic and an aspiring fiction writer (probably lost) on the way to an independent bookstore near you. He can be found occasionally musing about politics, philosophy, and love in the modern world.

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