How To Make Friends When You Move to a New City
It may not be easy, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.
Moving to a new city can be a bittersweet experience. On one hand, it means that an exciting new adventure awaits for you; on the other, it also typically means that beloved friends and family are left behind. And, as exciting as discovering new restaurants, parks, museums, and music venues can be, doing so without people to share the experiences with can feel lonely.
Whether you’re already feeling that loneliness firsthand after a recent move or you’re proactively worrying about it while getting closer to your move date, you might need some guidance on how to make friends in a totally new city. After all, it’s not like moving in grade school, high school, or college, where clubs and sports were readily accessible. As an adult, making friends can be a lot more challenging, and require some real thought and planning. But don’t worry—ahead you’ll discover six ways to find pals in your new city. Cheers to all the adventures that await!
Think about what friendships you actually *want* to have.
Before actually setting out to make friends, licensed clinical psychologist and Hope for Depression Research Foundation Advisor Dr. Ernesto Lira de la Rosa advises you to first and foremost consider what you’re actually looking for in a new pal. “Moving to a new city will come with excitement and a chance to engage in self-reflection,” he explains. “Perhaps, this can also be a time to consider what types of friendships you would like to build.”
After all, he adds, friends can serve different purposes in your life. “It is okay to build friendships that can turn into more intimate and long-term relationships,” he notes. “It is also okay to build friendships that may serve you well while you get adjusted to a new city and a new life.” In that way, it’s like the old saying goes: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” All three will teach you something.
Reach out to nearby mutual friends.
One easy way to bring new people into your life is to work with the friendships you already have. “You can begin by reaching out to any friends who may know someone who currently lives in the city you are moving to,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa. “Often, this is one of the best ways to make new friends since there is already a mutual connection.” Don’t be shy—reach out!
Get to know your neighbors.
If you’re moving to a new city, chances are, you’ll have neighbors close by. Rather than keeping your distance, consider the fact that your neighbors may be a stepping stone to your new social circle.
“Now that you are in a new city, you may be spending a lot of time in your new home,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa. “It can be helpful to connect with any neighbors in your building or in your area. These individuals can provide a lot of great information and resources to help make the transition smoother.”
Connect with new co-workers.
While many jobs are still remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting with new coworkers, whether virtually or in the office, can be a great opportunity to make friendships. “If you relocate to a new city for a job, take advantage of meeting coworkers and getting to know them,” Dr. Lira de la Rosa suggests. “These individuals will be part of your network simply by working in the same company or organization. They can also be great resources to help you get settled into your new job and city.”
Get involved in group activities.
Common interests are a major component of friendships, and Dr. Lira de la Rosa suggests joining groups or communal spaces based around your interests and hobbies. Think: workout classes, book clubs, cooking seminars, community gardens, and more. You can often find these events listed on Facebook groups, Nextdoor, or other community bulletins.
If you’re nervous about joining a group full of strangers, however, another option is to look for people who share your passions and love of activities with apps like Bumble BFF. While using a dating app to find friends can admittedly feel a bit cheesy (despite it having a dedicated friendship section), it can introduce you to people with the same interests and values that you hold near and dear.
Be open to new experiences.
Another way to make new friends is to put yourself out there in ways you might not have in the past. “I would advise people to remain open, approach situations with curiosity, and to take chances on meeting new people,” Dr. Lira de la Rosa says. “If you remain open, you may be surprised by the kinds of people and experiences that will come into your life.”
Even if you never thought of yourself as an extrovert, try to keep an open mind when it comes to starting new relationships and exploring different areas of interest in your life. “This can be a great way to meet new people and to take some chances doing things that you have always wanted to do or try,” says Dr. Lira de la Rosa.
I can speak to this firsthand. When I first moved to New York City and was looking to build a social circle, I agreed to go on a group date with an old Tinder match who I hadn’t seen in over a year. Long story short, one of his best friend’s Bumble dates (who he had met that night) ended up becoming one of my best friends in the city. We went on to do everything together and never talked to the guys again. Moral of the story: You never know how a chance night out could turn out. And, even if it doesn’t become a lifelong friendship, you’ll have a great story to tell as a result no matter what.
There’s no denying that making friends as an adult can be challenging (and, let’s be honest, intimidating). However, finding your tribe in your new city will make all the difference in the world. Now go on and make some friends!