If you’ve just relocated, socializing and meeting new people can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Meaningful friendships and relationships can improve your quality of life immensely, so here are 25 tips to make friends — even in a new city.
Here we go:
1. Join a language school
Do you want to learn a new language? Or did you start learning one already, and would you like to improve your skills? By joining a school, you’ll have the opportunity to attend lessons with experienced teachers and meet new friends as well.
Language classes aren’t like seminars, where you are supposed to listen, take notes, and raise your hand once in a while; they are interactive. You will practice your skills with other students, ask questions, and probably have a lot of fun as well.
2. Be proactive
Here’s the thing: when you are looking for new friends, you can’t always rely on others to invite you, or organize events. If you genuinely want to find like-minded people in a new environment, then it’s a good idea to be proactive and organize meetups yourself.
For example, you could invite your neighbors for dinner; ask two of your new colleagues to go out with you; or ask a local to show you around. You may feel it’s too awkward, or too random, but chances are that people will actually say yes and be enthusiastic. Think about it: many people actually have boring lives, and love doing new things with new people like you.
3. Use Meetup
You’ve probably heard of this one already, as it has become quite popular recently. Meetup is an application that allows you to find people with similar interests and attend events with them. It’s very easy to use, and there are now many meetups available in most cities.
What’s great about this site is that there are meetups about everything and anything — cooking, art, web development, pub crawls, fitness, meditation, and so on. And if you can’t find any inspiring or interesting events, you can organize one yourself for free!
4. Go out alone
If you’ve never done this, it may sound terrifying at first, but here’s a little secret: when you go out alone, and you aren’t constantly interacting with your own group, people will actually be happy to approach you and start talking to you.
For some people, going to a bar or any other venue alone feels intimidating simply because of their own negative, inaccurate thoughts: “will people judge me? What will they think? Will they make fun of me?”. The truth is that people don’t care, and are happy to find someone they can actually talk to.
5. Learn photography
Here’s another cool activity that you can learn with other people: photography. We all love creative, professional, original pictures, and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like to be a better photographer. So by joining a class, you’ll actually learn a pretty useful skill.
One of the cool things about classes is that even though you’ll be surrounded by strangers, you will all share the same goal — learning a new skill. Plus, most courses last for months, so you’ll have enough time to get to know everyone.
6. Practice the art of small talk
Regardless of what you do or where you go in your free time, it’s crucial that you develop (or improve) some basic social skills. One of these skills is what we call small talk — short, informal conversations about nothing in particular.
The key with this is to be spontaneous; and to imagine that you’re talking for the sake of talking. Don’t worry if the conversations aren’t smooth, and don’t try to come up with some super clever topics — just talk. You can practice this with your new friends or colleagues, as well as with complete strangers.
7. Join gym classes
Science has proven that exercise is a natural antidepressant, and that it had endless health benefits. If you’ve just moved to a new city and you are trying to find new friends, then going to the gym can be a great way to get your endorphin fix and meet new people.
If it’s a big enough gym, you can probably choose between many different classes — yoga, martial arts, stretching, and so on. Most of them will be once or twice a week, so it won’t be too time consuming, but you’ll still have the chance to make friends.
8. Find a new hobby
Besides being an excellent way to spend your free time even when you’re on your own, hobbies make it easier to find like-minded people, especially if you can find Meetup groups or events where people teach or practice the same hobby together.
Alternatively, practice a new sport, or learn to play an instrument; if you’re good at it, you could even join a band (there’s always countless ads online). The idea here is to do something you enjoy and that also allows you to meet new people.
9. Go to pub crawls
Some of these can get a little crazy from time to time, but don’t worry, you won’t be pressured to drink, and you definitely don’t have to get drunk; pub crawls are a lot of fun even if you’re 100 percent sober.
Naturally, those who join pub crawls are usually either tourists, or people who have just moved to a new city and are looking for new friends, just like you. And even if you don’t make any friends there, it’s still a great way to explore the nightlife.
10. Eat out
If you’ve just moved and you’d like to meet new people, then I encourage you to simply go out as much as possible rather than spending your free time at home (which makes it close to impossible to socialize).
Everyone has a different schedule and routine, but we all need to eat, so if you’re actively looking for new friendships, why not eat out? It may not be as healthy or as economical as cooking your meals yourself, but it does give you an extra chance to meet other people.
11. Be a regular
Once you have been somewhere many times, and that place feels like home, then you are officially a “regular”. The more you visit a certain place (whether it’s a bar, a restaurant, or your gym), the easier it will be to get to know everyone — staff and customers.
Sometimes when we go to a new place we’re a bit awkward, and can’t socialize spontaneously as we don’t know anyone. Plus, if we meet someone interesting, but talk to them just once, it will be hard to turn that into a new friendship. Being a regular, on the other hand, makes it possible to meet the same people more frequently.
12. Don’t be picky
If you don’t know anyone, then you shouldn’t be too selective in terms of social interactions, at least not at first. So when someone invites you to a party, say yes, even if you think you won’t enjoy it; when your colleagues ask if you’d like to have lunch with them, say yes, even if you had a different plan.
I am a big believer in quality over quantity, and in general, it’s better to have a few really good friends than a hundred decent ones, especially if you’re an introvert. But in the beginning, don’t be picky, and don’t automatically turn off invitations.
13. Attend language meetups
Language courses, as we’ve seen, are a great way to meet new friends and learn a skill that can be useful in your career, when you are traveling, or even as a hobby. However, you don’t need to join a school to learn or practice a new language.
Through websites like MyLanguageExchange and Meetup you can either attend language gatherings or practice with another person; for example, if you speak English and want to learn Spanish, you can contact and meet someone who speaks Spanish and wants to improve their English.
No matter which city you have moved to, there’s always going to be an endless list of volunteering opportunities, and yes, it is a way of meeting new people as well (other volunteers, and the people you will help or work with).
All you need to do is check one of the sites online, see if there’s a job you’d like to do, and apply. Most volunteering positions do not require any previous experience, and can actually teach you many valuable skills. Plus, it is a way to give back and contribute.
15. Meet old friends
I get it: you’re trying to meet new friends, not old ones. But one thing you could do is ask some of your current friends to visit you, and go out together, so getting to know the new environment won’t be as overwhelming, and you’ll be motivated to go out.
Alternatively, you could check if some of your old friends have moved as well — you never know. Somehow, life has a way of “connecting the dots”, and if you’re meant to see an old acquaintance again, it may happen regardless of how rare or unlikely you think it is.
16. Network with colleagues
A bit of an obvious one, and it had to be part of this list. Most people move simply because they’ve found a new job (or because they want better career opportunities), so if that’s you, don’t miss the chance to network with your colleagues — not for work reasons, but to simply get to know them.
Don’t be afraid to develop connections because even if your colleagues aren’t exactly like-minded, you could still meet friends of friends, or go out with them and interact with new people. Once again, don’t be too selective in the beginning.
17. Use CouchSurfing
The idea behind this website originated over twenty years ago, when a 21 year old programmer needed a temporary accommodation, and emailed random students asking for a homestay. The attempt was successful — he received over fifty offers — so he thought he would turn his idea into a site that could be used by travelers all over the world.
Today, the CouchSurfing platform is indeed used by millions of people, although finding a homestay isn’t the only purpose: some use it to organize events and meet fellow travelers, or new people in general. So if you haven’t already, you can give it a try and see if there’s meetups in your areas.
18. Join city tours
Although city tours are usually attended by tourists, they do give you the chance to meet people who, like you, just relocated. And even if it doesn’t work out, they are still an opportunity to explore the new city with the help of an experienced guide, who can give you tips about the local nightlife.
If you’re in a large enough city, there will be tours at different times of the day, and in different parts of the city as well. Some will have a fixed cost, while others will be free, though obviously you are supposed to tip the guide.
19. Teach your skills
Remember: when you are trying to meet friends in a new place, you should be proactive. Is there something you’re really good at? Or at least do you have enough experience to help someone out in their career, studies, or hobbies?
One thing you can do to meet new people is to teach them what you know — languages are the most common example, but it could be any skill. It’s up to you whether you want to charge them or do it for free, but do make sure that the lessons are in person; technology is a great thing, but it lacks the human element.
20. Go to big concerts and events
If you find it overwhelming to go out solo… you shouldn’t be: as I’ve explained earlier, people don’t really care whether you are alone or in a group. However, you may not feel comfortable in small places, and that’s understandable.
So whenever you go out on your own, my advice would be to attend large events and gatherings rather than, say, going to a small bar where there’s only a dozen people. Even if you’re socially anxious, and you’re terrified of others noticing you, very large crowds are usually less intimidating than small parties.
21. Join a religious group
This one may not apply to everyone, but it’s definitely a great way to meet potential new friends. Just like it’s more natural to interact with those who share our hobbies, it’s also more natural to talk to people of the same creed or religion.
You can go to church, but also join — you guessed it — meetups. Believe it or not, I personally know many people who made lasting friendships by joining religious groups, so if this sounds good to you, give it a try.
22. Learn to cook
To be fair, you should learn to cook regardless: it’s a calming hobby, and it helps you save tons of money and eat healthier as well. If you want to meet new friends, then cooking classes are ideal — they are a lot of fun, and very interactive.
If long term courses aren’t your cup of tea, you can try single sessions (they typically last one to four hours). If you already know how to cook, then consider organizing dinner parties so you can amaze your guests; you can invite your colleagues, your neighbors, or even your classmates if you’re still studying.
23. Initiate conversations
You don’t need anyone’s permission to talk to strangers: in some cases and depending on the situation, it may more polite to remain silent, but most of the time it’s perfectly fine to initiate conversations, especially if the other person looks bored.
Ultimately, meeting people is a numbers game. Most random conversations won’t really lead to new friendships; but some will, so the more you do this, the more chances you’ll have. You don’t need to initiate conversations with everyone, but when you want to talk to someone, go for it.
24. Get a part time job
Whether you’re the most sociable, friendly, outgoing extrovert, or a misanthrope with severe social anxiety, there is one thing you absolutely need in order to meet new people, and it has very little to do with your personality type. To make new friends, you need time.
Which is why my penultimate tip to find friends in a new city is to get a part time job (if you can’t or don’t want to work part time, at least try to get a job that doesn’t completely drain your energy and where you don’t have to be available 24/7).
25. Try out new things
Alright, I’ve told you about being proactive, joining courses and meetups, going out solo or with your new colleagues, volunteering, teaching, going to pub crawls and city tours… what’s left?
Well, the last tip would be to simply try out as many things as possible. As human beings, we are social animals, and we rarely do things alone. For instance, there aren’t many jobs where you never interact with other people.
So become the kind of person that loves life, and lives life to the fullest. The more energy and enthusiasm you’ll have, the more you’ll want to try out new things, the easier it will be to meet potential friends and partners.