Whether you have moved abroad, you are on a Working Holiday or you are a digital nomad who is settling somewhere for a while, finding yourself in an unfamiliar city with no friends can be tough. It can take some time to build up a social network in your new location and find people you want to hang out with.
If you’re wondering how on earth you’ll find someone fun to hang out with, here are some great ways to meet new people when you move somewhere. They might not all apply to your current situation, but you’ll likely find lots of ideas on this list that will help you start to grow your circle of friends.
14 Ways to Meet New People When You Move Somewhere
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Local Facebook Groups
Facebook groups can be another great way to meet people when you arrive in a new city. Take a look and see if there is a “Newcomers” or “Expats” group for your particular location. Most of the time there is already a thriving online community you can join. You’ll find local tips, advice and recommendations, as well as plenty of interesting discussion.
Go ahead, post a status inviting people to join you for a coffee or happy hour. You might be surprised just how many new friends you find!
Meetup is a really cool website where you can find events and get-togethers organized by other people in your area based on common interests. When you sign up, you can select the types of events you are interested in – whether it’s book clubs, hiking excursions, language learning or Medieval reenactment. You’ll be able to browse and attend the meetups that have been organized by people in your area who share your interests – or even set up your own.
The great circle of friends that Lee and I formed while living in Tbilisi, Georgia for 11 months was sparked by a wine and cheese night that we saw posted on Meetup. We made several wonderful people who became our core group of friends and who introduced us to others.
Okay, this one is not for me because I have the coordination of a drunk bear and I flinch whenever a ball is thrown in my direction – but if you have any sort of sporting inclination this can be a great way to make friends. Check to see if there are any amateur league sports teams in your area that you can join in and play with.
The competition and teamwork fosters a sense of camaraderie that can really bring people together. Plus, it’s great exercise too!
Try taking a class to learn something you are interested it. It’s a double bonus, because not only will you have a chance to make some friends, you’ll also come away with a great new skill.
In most decent sized cities you can find weekend and evening classes offered by the local community center, the college or sometimes independent businesses. Whether you are learning the art of chocolate making, practicing your woodworking skills, becoming fluent in Spanish or brushing up on your public speaking – this is a chance to meet someone who is interested in the same hobbies as you.
If you haven’t heard of Courchsurfing yet, it’s a worldwide hospitality network where generous local hosts offer their couch or spare bed to travelers for free. Yup, it’s kind of like Airbnb without the commercial transaction and it can be a really fun way to stay with a local, get to know them and learn more about the culture of where you are visiting.
But even if you already have a place to stay and you don’t need to crash on anyone’s couch, it’s still worth signing up for the Couchsurfing website if you are new somewhere and you want to make friends.
The first reason is for the Meetups. Local groups of Couchsurfing hosts will often organise regular events for hosts and travelers and these can be a great way to meet new people when you are in a city.
Secondly, you can download the app on your phone and try Couchsurfing Hangouts. This is a GPS- powered feature of the app that allows you to see others around you who are open to meeting new people.
Lee and I are big pub quiz dorks. I mean, what could be more fun than drinking beer and arguing about the name of the ship that picked up the survivors of the Titanic, or whether or not the monotone lyrics the host recited were from a Bruce Springsteen or John Cougar Mellencamp song?
If you like pub quizzes too, they can be a fun way to meet new people when you move. Go by yourself or with your partner and ask one of the medium sized teams if you can join them. It’s no fun playing with a team of one or two, and many other teams will be glad to add more brains to their ranks.
Don’t be intimidated – you don’t have to be particularly clever or knowledgable to enjoy a pub quiz. Even if you only know one or two of the answers, the main point is to socialize and have fun. Often the beer and conversation keeps flowing long after the scores have been tallied and the prizes given out.
If you are working in your new city, your job might offer events that will give you an opportunity to socialise with your co-workers. There’s probably a good chance that you get along with at least some of your co-workers and you might enjoy hanging out with them.
Getting to know your coworkers outside of work can also make workdays more enjoyable, as you’ll form better relationships with your co-workers and you’ll look forward to seeing them every day.
If you don’t already have a job in your new city – seek out a job that has a social aspect to it so that you will naturally make friends at work.
Another way to make friends and meet new people when you move to a different location is to use an app. After all, we use our smartphones for everything else in our lives – why not this?
I’m not talking about dating apps like Tinder and Bumble (although those are good apps if you are looking to find a friend with benefits). There are apps out there that are just designed for finding platonic buddies. (Here’s a list of some of the most popular ones.)
Will there be a conference in your field of work coming up soon in the city where you are living? Why not consider attending? You’ll have a chance to get some great insight for your work, and you’ll also get to meet lots of other people.
These networking connections can be great for your career, but they can also turn into friends.
In many cities around the world there will be expat groups, which are designed to bring together expats in the community. InterNations is a good example, but there are many others.
These groups will usually host events and get-togethers, which can be a great opportunity to make friends. Everyone will be in the same boat as you – living and working in a different city and open to meeting new people.
Language Learning Groups
Another great way to meet people when you move to a new city is to participate in a language learning group. You can practice learning the local language by meeting up with native speakers. You’ll also help them to practice their English.
Not only is conversation a better way to learn a language, these types of groups a great way to meet people and make friends.
Why not choose a local charity and donate some of your skills and spare time to a good cause? You will have the warm and fuzzy feeling of helping others, and you’ll also have a chance to meet people who care about the same things you do.
It could be walking dogs at a no-kill shelter, spending time with the elderly at a care home, serving the homeless at a soup kitchen, cleaning up a local beach or building houses for families affected by natural disasters… or any other initiative. No matter what you do, you’re bound to get to know some pretty amazing people.
Your Existing Network
When you move somewhere, check your Facebook connections to see if you already know someone who knows someone who lives there. For example, you might have a cousin or a friend or a friend in your destination. That can be a great place to start, because there’s a connection there already.
Get in touch with them and let them know that you’d like to meet up. They can be a good “first friend” to start with when you move somewhere. Also, they can also introduce you to people and give you tips on where to meet new friends.
Kids Activities (If You Have Kids)
If you have little ones, taking them to children’s activities can be a good way to make friends. Look for children’s festivals, storytime at your local library, children’s theatre and other such events.
Your kids will have a good time and will get a chance to socialize with other children. Meanwhile, you’ll get to chat with other parents. Soon, you’ll have a full calendar of playdates lined up and plenty of other families to hang out with.
Making Friends Isn’t Always Easy – But It’s Worth It
Making friends when you move to a new city can be challenging and it can take a bit of effort. You may have to go outside of your comfort zone.
Not having many friends where you live can be a little bit stressful and depressing. However, try not to bring those feelings into your new friendships. You’ll find it easier to forge new friendships if you approach people with a positive, friendly attitude.
You may even need to try a few of these different approaches until you find something that works. But – in my experience – that effort is totally worth it.
One of the best parts of living abroad is the friendships you form and the people you meet. You never know when you will meet someone who will turn into a lifelong connection.
How do you meet new people when you move abroad? Let us know your tips in the comments!
PS. If you have tried several of these approaches and you aren’t having any luck, it might not be you. You might be living in an area where it’s hard to make friends. This can be due to certain factors in that particular location and culture. This is a great article about why some locations are more difficult to form friendships in than others – and what you can do.