Advice Friendship

How to Make Friends in a New City

Until we can order friends on DoorDash, these tips will have to do.

Moving is inherently stressful – it’s expensive, requires a ton of planning, and then you have to contend with starting over socially. Without question, one of the hardest parts of moving is figuring out how to make friends in a new city.

Putting yourself out there is intimidating, and a lot easier said than done. But fear not, because making new friends isn’t as terrible as it sounds. 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. 

We put together a list of tips to befriend people in your new locale that go beyond “just getting out there.” Making friends as an adult can be awkward, but it’s possible.

How to Make Friends in a New City - city streets

7 Ways to Make Friends in a New City

1. Join a sports league or fitness studio.

Flex your volleyball or softball skills in a local sports league, and make a group of friends along the way. This idea has two benefits: socialization in your new city and a fun way to get healthy.

Most cities have recreational leagues for adults that you can find with a simple Google search. If you live near a YMCA, they likely offer a wide range of group fitness classes for you to join.

While you’re there, ask one of the other members when they’re coming next, or if they have any recommendations for the best instructor. Break the ice through your shared enjoyment of exercising. Or, you know, your shared toleration of it.

How to Make Friends in a New City - fitness class

2. Tap into your social network.

Just because your new city is new to you doesn’t mean it’s new to everyone. Unless you’re moving to Atlantis, in which case…take us with you!

You probably have a friend (or a friend of a friend) who lived in your new town previously, has family there, knows someone who moved there, etc. Reaching out to the people you already know feels more comfortable than trying to connect with total strangers. 

Try posting to social media about your move 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.

How to Make Friends in a New City - social media

3. 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 job hunting, consider the work environment and if it’ll be conducive to making friends with your coworkers.

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. If you feel like you vibe with them on a friend level, take the next step and invite them out for post-work drinks.

How to Make Friends in a New City - drinks at a bar

4. Try out the apps.

We know that you swore off Tinder after that ridiculous date with Brad, but hear us out. There are apps for making friends, with 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 a great way to find others in a similar situation.

You can build a whole squad from the ground up, all at the tip of your fingers. 

How to Make Friends in a New City - friends celebrating

5. Volunteer.

Whether it’s organizing a local 5K or picking up a regular gig at the food pantry, think of a cause you’re passionate about and volunteer. You’ll meet other people who are also interested in community service, so you can safely assume they’re decent. 

There are lots of ways to find volunteer opportunities, but one popular site is VolunteerMatch. It’s kind of like a job board for nonprofits: you put in your areas of interest and the site will recommend local stints that need people like you. 

How to Make Friends in a New City - volunteer

6. 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.

Fair warning: there isn’t a great way to vet people on Facebook, so be careful when meeting up with strangers. It’s best to meet during the day in a public place, and ideally with several people at once. We’re in way too many true crime Facebook groups to not warn you. 

How to Make Friends in a New City - picnic

7. Find a roommate.

A roommate is like 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.

Finding a roommate is easy nowadays, between social media platforms and Craigslist. Ask them 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.)

How to Make Friends in a New City - friends on the street

How to Make Friends in a New City

Making new friends isn’t easy, but then, nothing in life that’s worth doing is. The most important thing 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. 

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. 

How to Make Friends in a New City - friends laughing

By Laura Davis

Laura is the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and blog for post grads, where she writes about friendship, dating, and career with the mission of helping guide twenty-somethings through early adulthood. She has written and edited for a variety of lifestyle publications, including Let's Eat Cake, Popular Science, and Flixed.

When she's not typing away on her laptop, you can find Laura working on her MBA at Boston College, listening to Taylor Swift, or sweating it out at an OrangeTheory class. Follow her on Instagram @LauraKristine21 and LinkedIn.

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