Moving to a new city comes with a whole lot of stress and very little reward – at first. Between the expensive costs of moving and the fact that you don’t even know where your local Starbucks is (a tragedy), relocating feels like a one-way ticket to Anxiety Town. Don’t move to Anxiety Town – we’ve been and it’s no fun.
One of the hardest parts of moving, though, is figuring out how to make friends in a new city. But fear not, because making new friends isn’t as terrible as it sounds. And it’ll help you get rid of those toxic ones. But it’s also not as easy as it seems on TV. However, with a little bit of elbow grease (not literally – take a shower first, please), you’ll be the talk of the town in no time.
How to Make Friends in a New City
1. Check your inferiority complex at the door.
Before we get into the practical tips on friend-making, we want to humbly offer some advice. When you’re putting yourself out there and trying to connect with people, remember that everyone you meet isn’t necessarily in a better place in life than you are. As life coach Desiree Wiercyski told Bustle, “we think that everyone else has their lives together, all the friends they would ever want, and wouldn’t care or have time for new connections.”
This thought process makes putting yourself out there feel super intimidating and challenging. If everyone else has all the friends they need, why would anyone value my friendship? Well, first of all, because you’re awesome! We assume. You do read the Adultescence blog, after all.
And also, because lots of people want to make new friends. Even if their cupeth overflows with the sweet juices of friendship (sorry, that got a little weird), lots of people wouldn’t say no to more. Especially if they’re super cool, new to town, with shared interests and a cute dog. Unofficial tip? Get a cute dog.
So make it your mantra, write it on your mirror, remind yourself every day: you are someone that people want to be friends with! It’ll make opening up much less scary.
2. Join a sports league.
Were you an athlete in high school or college? You can flex your old volleyball skills in a local sports league, and make a group of friends along the way! Just don’t flex your old volleyball jersey – that thing has been through a lot and should probably stay retired.
This tip is great because it has two benefits: socialization in your new city and a fun way to get in shape. Most cities have recreational leagues for adults that you can find with a simple Google search. If you live near a YMCA, they offer a wide range of group fitness classes for you to join.
Really, any fitness classes will work. Be bold! Ask one of the other members when they’re coming to class next, or if they have any recommendations for the best instructor. Break the ice using your shared enjoyment of exercising. Or, you know, your shared toleration of it.
3. Tap into your social network.
And by social network, we don’t necessarily mean Facebook, although you can definitely utilize it for this one. Just because your new city is new for you, doesn’t mean it’s new for everyone. Unless you’re moving to Atlantis, in which case… take us with you!
You probably have friends, or a friend of a friend who has lived there, has family there, knows someone who moved there, etc. This is a great way to start because reaching out to the people you already know feels safer than trying to connect with total strangers.
As we mentioned, using Facebook or other social media sites is a good way to start. Try a simple post about the fact that you’re moving, and ask if anyone has connections there. As a general rule of thumb, people love to be helpful, and you’d be surprised at who you know around the world!
4. Get a new job.
This one might be something you’re doing anyway, given that we all need money to survive. Ugh, capitalism. But, when you’re looking for a new job in your shiny new city, consider the work environment and if it’ll be conducive to making new friends. What kinds of people work there? Is it a big office or on the smaller side? Is it in-person or remote?
Befriending your co-workers is a low-stress way to get started. You’re already going to be seeing these people every day, so having a good relationship with them is essential. If you feel like you vibe with them on a friend level, take the next step and invite them out for post-work drinks.
This tip is multi-functional because you’ll get the inside scoop on your new office, discover a cool local bar, and potentially make a new friend or two.
5. Try out the apps.
We know that you swore off Tinder after that ridiculous date with Brad, but hear us out. There are apps specific to making friends, and there are some really cool people on them, waiting to be found!
Apps like Bumble BFF and Meetup are specifically designed for friend-seekers and people looking to connect with others over shared interests. A lot of people who move to new cities use them, so it’s also a great way to find others who are in a similar situation as you. You can build a whole squad from the ground up, all at the tip of your fingers.
6. Volunteer for something.
Maybe it’s helping organize a local 5K race for a good cause or a regular gig at the food pantry. Think of something that you’re passionate about, interested in, or would make you feel good and volunteer! You’ll meet other volunteers who are also interested in community service, so you can pretty safely assume they’re decent people.
There are lots of ways to find volunteer opportunities, but one popular site is VolunteerMatch. It’s kind of like a job board for volunteers and nonprofits. You put in your areas of interest and the site will recommend local stints that need people like you.
7. Join Facebook groups.
There are Facebook groups for just about everything. Whether you like true crime, baking, or speed walking, you can find a group of your people on Facebook. Just type in the name of your interest followed by the city you live in. Or, you could join a larger group that isn’t city-specific and make a post looking for people who are local to you.
Fair warning here, there isn’t a great way to vet people on Facebook so you’ll want to be careful when meeting up with strangers. It’s of course best to meet during the day, in a public place, and ideally with several people at once. And always tell someone where you’re going and who you’ll be with. We know, we sound like your mom. But we’re in way too many true crime Facebook groups to not give you a warning.
8. Get a roommate.
Getting a roommate is like having a built-in BFF. While it may be tempting to live on your own in a new city (you’re not in college anymore, after all), having a roommate or two is an easy way to make new friends. And if you’re an extrovert, you shouldn’t be spending too much time alone anyway. Without attention, you might die. Just like your poor Tamagotchi back in third grade.
Finding a roommate is easy nowadays, between all the social media platforms and Craigslist. Ask them questions like if they’re tidy, how they like to socialize, what their schedule is like, and if they’re a serial killer on the DL. We told you, we’re really into true crime.
Make sure you check out the person you’re going to be sharing a living space with. The last thing you want is a The Roommate situation, or accidentally moving in with a hermit or a hoarder. Getting a roommate should make your new life easier, not more stressful.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Friends in a New City
Making new friends isn’t easy, but then, nothing in life that’s worth doing is. You’ll get a huge sense of accomplishment when you post your first squad pic on the ‘gram, knowing how hard you worked to meet all those smiling faces.
The most important thing to remember is to be open to new experiences and new people. Even if someone doesn’t seem like your jam right away, give them a chance. You never know how people will surprise you. Say yes to everything (within reason) for the first month or two when you get to your new home, and see where life takes you!
If you start to get discouraged, think back on how long it took to build the friendships you have now. You won’t move to a new city, snap your fingers, and have a group chat or the Serena to your Blair. But if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort, you’ll see a big reward.
- Listen to the Adultescence podcast episode about friendship changes in adulthood with tips on how to make new friends.
- Read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie for practical advice on how to be a better conversationalist.