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How to Make Friends When You Move to a New City

friends meeting in cafe
fizkes/Shutterstock

One of the hardest parts about moving to a new place is establishing a circle of friends. If you don’t know anyone there already, making friends can feel like an impossible task. Here’s what you need to do.

Get Out There

Natural extroverts have a real advantage when it comes to making new friends. They meet more people, which gives them more opportunity to find people they click with. If you’re an extrovert, congratulations, this is going to be a lot easier for you. On the other hand, if you’re an introvert, then you will need to step up your game.

We get it, meeting new people, making small talk, and dealing with the same questions—“What do you do?”, “Do you like it here?”, “Where are you from originally?”—over and over again is annoying. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary prelude to building genuine connections.

To have a chance at building a new social circle you have to be, well, social. This means saying yes to invitations you’d usually turn down, introducing yourself to other people at an event, and engaging when people ask you the same old questions again and again. Keep your distance, and you’ll appear aloof and antisocial to people who might otherwise be interested in talking to you.

Take Up a New Hobby (Or Keep Up an Old One)

Friendships come down to two things: shared interests and time spent together. One of the best ways to spend time with people who are into similar things is by joining a club for one of your hobbies.

If you’re into something social like CrossFit, martial arts, team sports, cycling, running, or the like, that’s probably all you’ll need to do. After a few weeks, you’ll have started to get to know people, there’ll probably be some club events, and boom, you’ve got yourself some friends and a social circle.

Hobby
Keep up an old hobby or take up a new one. It’s a great way to meet people.

If you don’t already have a social, club-based hobby, now is the time to take one up. If you’ve always wanted to learn chess, start rowing, or get good at dancing, use the extra motivation and get out there. Not only will you get a new hobby, but you’ll also make some friends.

Check Out Some Meet Ups

Even solitary hobbies that don’t have formal clubs can be an excellent way to meet people. There are book clubs, knitting circles, and photography societies everywhere. Sure, reading, knitting, and taking photos are all activities most people do on their own, but it doesn’t mean that groups of people don’t like together to talk about them or share skills.

These clubs can be a little harder to find than sports clubs as they rarely have any physical premises. Most meet in bars, people’s houses, or perhaps a hired room in a hotel if they’re big enough.

meetup
Meetup.com is a great resource for finding, well, meetups.

The best sites for finding these kinds of meetups are Google, Facebook, and Meetup.com. Spend a bit of time searching for things like “chess Dublin, Ohio” or “photography club in Leeds,” and you’re sure to find something.

Reach Out to Old Friends and Acquaintances

Another great way to make new friends is to get in touch with people to whom you’ve got even tenuous connections. If an old school friend you haven’t seen in a decade lives in your new town, hit them up for a coffee. If your friend’s brother is nearby, get your friend to introduce you. If you met someone once while you were traveling, reach out and reconnect.

The hardest part isn’t reaching out; it’s figuring out who you should reach out to. You probably don’t remember which cities your college friends all moved to. The simplest thing to do is post on a social network like Facebook announcing that you’re moving and asking anyone who’s there if they want to meet for a drink.

You can also ask your close friends if they know anyone in the city they can put you in touch with. You’ll probably be surprised not only by how many potential connections you have in your new town but how willing they are to meet up.

General Tips for Making New Friends

The biggest bit of advice we can give for making new friends is simple: be prepared to make the first move. There are millions of cliches about this, but they all come down to the same thing—if you are the one looking to make new friends, then you need to be the one who takes action. You should be the one to approach new people at a party, to ask for someone’s contact details, to follow up the next day, and to invite people out to do something. If you’re proactive, you’ll make new friends in no time.

Another important thing to remember is you only really need to make one new friend. Think back over your existing friend circles. How many of them are the result of meeting one new person and that person introducing you to their group of friends? We’d bet quite a few of them.

Finally, while it can feel like there’s a lot on the line when you’re reaching out and trying to make new friends you’ve nothing to lose. The worst case scenario is that you have a somewhat awkward coffee with someone then go your separate ways. I’m more than happy to risk a bad hour in a coffee shop for the chance at hundreds of hours with someone you get along great with.


Making friends as an adult isn’t that much different from making friends as a kid; you just have to be a little more proactive. Be social, join clubs, and get out and meet people.

Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like the New York Times and on a variety of other websites, including Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »

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