How To Make Friends In A New City

Being an adult has all kinds of perks: digging into the pickle jar whenever you get a hankering for sodium, the freedom of a driver’s license, and going to bed whenever you want. One of the things they don’t tell you about the whole “adulting” thing is that making new friends can be really hard, especially after moving to a new city.

When you were younger, you were surrounded by others in a similar life stage with shared interests. But that changes once you’re out of school and thrown into the “real world,” notes Dr. Colleen Mullen, a psychologist and family therapist. “As adults, you have to search, work at, and cultivate new connections,” she says. “You can no longer assume that just because you are in a similar place you have anything that bonds you to each other.”

People also tend to have up more walls as adults — we’re more afraid of rejection, may have some social anxiety, and perhaps even have a case of “set in our ways” that makes us resistant to opening our door to new people. We’re also pretty dang busy! The good news is that creating authentic friendships in adulthood can be done. You just need to put yourself out there, lower your walls a bit, and figure out ways to meet new friends in your area and really foster those relationships.

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Ways to Make Friends in a New City

Making friends in a new city begins with, well, meeting people. If you’re not sure what to do if you have no friends just yet, start with the following suggestions.

Join Local Groups on Social Media

Social media may have a few thorns, but it can be a huge tool when making new friends in your city. Whether this is perusing the Groups Tab on Facebook, downloading an app, or finding a events calendar for the city you live in, technology can become quite useful.

Apps specifically have been popping up more with ways to make friends in new and exciting ways. For instance Bumble BFF gives you a way to swipe left or right on new people to make friends with, a creation from the well-known dating app company. Or check out Hey! VINA which targets women and gives them a comfortable space to find like-minded people, along with motivational quotes and articles embedded into the app.

Here are some other apps you can try:

  • Peanut
  • Bloom
  • Friender
  • Meetup
  • Patook
  • Nextdoor
  • We3

Volunteer

Whether you’re volunteering at a local animal shelter, serving soup at a kitchen, or helping with a political campaign, volunteering is an excellent way to make new friends in a city you’ve just moved to. “It will put you in contact with others who find it important to contribute to society through the giving back of their time,” says Dr. Mullen. “Volunteermatch.org is a great site for finding some opportunities to give of your time, energy and skills.”

Hang Out at a Local Cafe

cafe amici

Local cafe and not only hotspots for delicious food, but you can meet so many different people in a short time span. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and a pastry and sit down at a table, and then scan the customers. Maybe you find someone drawing in a notebook or poring over their laptop. Maybe someone walks up to you and offers friendship. The possibilities are endless, and the quaint setting allows you to relax and focus on making connections.

Join a Group, Club, or Sports Team (Hobbies)

Relocating is extremely brave in and of itself. Lean into the unfamiliar by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something completely new for recreation. Holmes says, “Maybe there is a meditation class you’ve been wanting to try, or salsa lessons that have been calling your name. Whether it’s pottery or rock climbing, there is no time like the present.”

Hobbies are so important because they distract us from our jobs and give us a mental break, but they present so many opportunities in various forms. A new place to make friends, a new skill to learn, a chance to travel to somewhere new — hobbies are perfect stepping stones to rounding out your life, and gaining some friends along the way.

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Let Your Pet Help You

How To Make Friends In A New City

Our four-legged friends are top-notch ice breakers! Use them to your advantage if you’re a pet parent. Research for dog parks in your area, or just take your pet to a park in general. Not only does this introduce your pet to others scattered in the city, but it also introduces you to like-minded animal lovers that could become friends or pet-sitters in the future.

Explore the Local Faith Community

“If you are a person of faith, don’t just watch the worship service online—get out and attend whatever community events are going on at your local house of worship,” Dr. Mullen suggests. “Many places of worship even have groups designed to help their community get to know each other better and are structured around social connection.”

A Friend of a Friend

How To Make Friends In A New City

Once you make a couple of friends, this option could be quite handy. Lots of people already have a few established friends, and you can connect with them as well. They will probably have some similar interests as you, and can strengthen the bond between your initial friend and you.

Connect with Coworkers

You moved to a new city, which means you have a new job in that location. It’s the perfect place to make friends, because you see most of your coworkers every weekday and they might have some similar interests. Or, make friends that are opposite to you in order to gain a different outlook on life. You’ll feel more at home in the workplace and have someone to talk to. Jobs are not easy when you’re alone, so take the step and introduce yourself to a couple coworkers and see what happens.

Book Clubs

books
Credit – pxhere

In the same vein as the hobbies, book clubs are great ways to meet new people. Usually less than 15 people in a room, this private gathering allows you to get more personal and have the chance to talk to each other. You also get to read a book and explore it with others, who have unique opinions about the content, and make agree or disagree with you. No matter what their thoughts are on the book, chances are you can make friends with at least one of the attendees.

Dating Apps

If you’re looking for a more intense friendship, try some dating apps and explore the demographic in your new city. Maybe they don’t become a boyfriend/girlfriend, but they can become a close friend all the same. Listed below are some popular dating apps.

Being a Good Neighbor

How To Make Friends In A New City
Credit: Dillon Kydd

Whether you’re living in a house or in an apartment, there are going to be neighbors near you. Take the jump and introduce yourself to the neighbors, or offer to help with outside/inside jobs they may need help with. This will not only increase your chances of them helping you, but can also spur a potential friendship.

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Attend Local Cultural Events

Art shows, music festivals, state fairs, or other events are great places to mingle with the locals and find someone who’s on the same wavelength as you. Some of these events may be too big to find several friends, but they put you out into the world of your new home, and can get you noticed for future interactions.

Be Patient

Knowing how to meet new people in a new city is one thing. Nurturing those connections until they blossom into lifelong friendships takes some more hard work—but it’s 100% worth it! “Allow new relationships to develop overtime,” urges psychotherapist Dr. Jenn Mann. “Ask lots of questions to get to know the other person, and notice [whether] they express the same curiosity about you. Staying in touch via text message, FaceTime and email can fill in gaps of time when people don’t have time to connect [in person].” It takes time to cultivate friendship, so trust the process and continue meeting new people along the way.

Final Thoughts

“Seeking out new friends does not have to be an intimidating experience. The reality is that many people are in the same boat as you, thinking about ways they can meet people in their current city,” says Holmes. Basically, try not to assume that everyone you encounter already has all the friends they could ever want and therefore don’t have time for new connections.

At the end of the day, knowing how to make friends in a new city is all about expanding your current social circle and organically putting yourself out there. Bring your best to the table, nurture the connections you do make, and practice patience as that friendship blossoms into something beautiful.