Making Friends in a New Place: The Complete Guide to Creating and Nurturing Meaningful Connections
Moving to a new place can bring so many incredible things to your life. From new friends to unforgettable memories to unique experiences, I have never regretted starting over in a new place—and I've done it a lot. In the last 10 years, I have started over in a new place 6 times, starting with boarding school and college and then moving abroad post-graduation.
And while making friends in college can be a challenge of its own, nothing prepared me for moving to a new place without classmates and tons of other people my age. But since moving to both France and Greece without knowing a soul all while working from home, I’ve figured out some of the easiest ways to make friends in a new place, so I decided to share with you!
5 Great Ways to Meet People in Your New City
Let’s be real moving to a new city can be lonely and daunting, but if you’re reading this you’re likely on the brink of something pretty exciting. Moving to a new city or even country for that matter can open a lot of doors and opportunities you might not have even known were possible. But no matter how many cool trips I’ve taken or adorable coffee shops I’ve visited in Paris, none of my time in Europe would’ve been nearly as fun without friends. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to meet people in your new city. So without further ado, here are 5 great ways to meet people in a new place:
Take a class
Whether it be a language class if you’re moving to a new country or something just for fun like a pottery class or a guitar lessons, taking a class with others can be a great way to foster friendships. When I first moved to France as an au pair, I made all of my friends through my French classes, but putting yourself out in the community as much as possible is one of the easiest and fastest ways to make friends in a new place.
Attend local events
Attending events by yourself can sometimes be uncomfortable. I got really comfortable being by myself during the first month of being an au pair. I remember having to go to movies and restaurants by myself if I wanted to get out of the house where I looked after 4 rambunctious children. Looking for events on Facebook or even on bulletin boards or by the cash register at a local coffee shop is a great way to meet people.
It may not feel easy to go out by yourself or stand awkwardly in a crowd somewhere trying not to stay glued to your phone, but I have a friend who has made a lot of friends (and even her boyfriend!) doing this. But you just have to be a little outgoing and try to put yourself out there.
Volunteer at a local charity
When I moved to France for the third time, I was working 100% remotely which made it quite a bit more difficult to make friends. So one of the things I decided to do was volunteer at a local sewing shop. It’s been really nice because I’ve been able to meet a lot of locals this way and bond over a shared interest. If sewing isn’t your thing, you could try volunteering at a charity shop or soup kitchen. I have a friend who volunteers at a community farm and she has made some great connections there.
Sign up for an online dating service
Okay, hear me out. While going on dates isn’t always a surefire way to make friends (especially if they’re only interested in the “more than”), but there can actually be people on dating apps who can either give you advice about cool places to go out in your new city or even introduce them to some of their own friends. One of my friends ended up dating a guy for a few months and met one of her best French friends through the guy. So, if you’re single, this could also be a good option!
Join an organization, club, or sports team
If volunteering or taking a class isn’t your thing, searching for local organizations, clubs, or sports teams can be a great way to make friends in a new place. When I was back in the US for a year, I joined a kickball team and there was a way to join as solo players with a group of other solo players. I knew one guy who joined as a solo player and really clicked with his team, so even if you’re not a star athlete, joining a sports team is a really fun way to make friends.
Other organizations or clubs you might look into could be things like a co-working space, a group for entrepreneurs, a running club, a club surrounded around a social issue you’re passionate about, or a club for people in a similar situation to you like being a parent or a student.
Take advantage of social media
Since I started creating more on social media and more people I don’t know have come across my content, I have had people reach out to me to meet up. Whether it be because they see we live in the same town or they’re a traveler passing through a looking for a friend along the way. It can sometimes be awkward to reach out to a stranger for friendship through social media and you can definitely count on some people not responding, but for the times the stars do align with either a kind soul or someone who is looking for friends just as much as you are, social media can really work wonders.
Maintaining Friendship When Living Abroad
If you’ve moved abroad and are looking for friends all of these tips will also work for you. But maintaining friendships when living abroad can come with some extra difficulties because if you only make friends with expats or people planning to spend only a year or two abroad, this can mean making new friends every few years.
So I always suggest continuing to form new friendships and nurturing the ones you have. I personally do this by making sure to keep all of my friend’s birthdays in your calendar, reaching out through text every once and a while, and trying to say yes to as many offers to hang out as I can.
Overall, connection is an important aspect of our lives and is even important for our mental and even physical well-being. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there while making friends in a new place. You got this!