Does the thought of trying to make friends when you’re moving or traveling alone kinda freak you out? You’re not alone. I have felt the exact same way every time I have moved to a new city, especially when it’s been a move overseas. Finding ways to make friends when you move to a new place can be a challenge if you are not naturally extroverted.
Starting fresh in a new place is exciting when you think of all the great activities, restaurants, and fun spots waiting to be discovered! There’s always so much to see in a new town. But it can also be very daunting.
The downside is that you don’t know yet where the favorite haunts of the locals are. Worse, you might not have anyone to share your experiences with.
Building A Local Network
When you move away from home, especially to somewhere overseas, it’s really important to build a local network. There will be times when you struggle and need help, when you feel lonely or homesick, or when you are just having a blast and wishing you had people to share it with.
So I encourage you to put a lot of time and effort into making friends in your new home.
Here are 35 ways to make friends when you move to a new place.
Shop Local Everywhere
Instead of doing all of your shopping in big chain stores and grocery stores, stick to small locally-owned shops. The staff and owners in them are more likely to be friendly and chatty. Countless times I have learned things about the local area, and events happening from people in boutique shops.
Learn Something New
Taking a class or workshop doing something you’ve never done before are great ways to make new friends. You can give new interests a try, while also socializing and meeting new people.
Always fancied learning a new craft, making professional cocktails, or cooking a gourmet dinner? Been thinking about learning a new language? This is your sign to go for it.
Flyers & Facebook Event Ads
We see so many flyers when we are out and about, and adverts online that we start ignoring them, but a quick perusal can offer you a gold mine of information. Find out about everything from bands playing, talks, demonstrations, local festivals, and other events. These are all great places to meet people and make friends when you move to a new place.
If staying fit and active is your jam, use exercise as a way to meet people. Rather than hole up in your house or apartment with a treadmill, why not join a gym or an exercise class and meet other people who are interested in getting into shape?
Grab a Book
Your local library or independent bookstore is a great place to indulge a love of reading while potentially meeting someone new. Book clubs stimulate you intellectually and introduce you to people in the community who share a love for the written word.
Take A Walk With A Furry Friend
If you have a dog, why not explore more than your own backyard? By taking Fido to your local dog park, you’ll have an opportunity to meet other dog lovers, while at the same time, giving your faithful friend a chance for a little puppy socialization. This is a win all around!
Join A Professional Association
Within a few months of my arrival in Vancouver, I joined and started getting actively involved with, the British Columbia Chapter of the International Association of British Columbia (IABC/BC).
Over the course of two and a half years, I became the Marketing and Communications Director, then Vice President, and finally President. I stepped down as Past President because I needed time back for me to focus on personal projects, but I still belong to this communications association to this day.
It has been one of the key ways that I have built my network in Vancouver. S I highly recommend that you find an association or group relevant to your profession. Go and get involved by going to events and volunteering.
Try a Meetup
Looking for some fun group activities in your area? Meetup.com is easy to use on your computer, tablet, or phone.
On Meetup, you just search for events of interest to you. You’re then presented with a variety of groups who like to engage in those activities, giving you a chance to meet several interesting people at once.
I went to a few meetups during my early days in Vancouver. Some were OK and some were terrible so I’d encourage you to just go to these events with an open mind. If it’s bad you can just go home and try other groups till you find your people. If nothing it’s a cheap way to start networking locally.
If like me you are traveling to new countries, then Internations is another way to meet new people. InterNations is a global network for people living abroad, with communities all over the world. You can join for free to connect with fellow expats in your city, learn about social events, and get information about your new home.
Use Social Media
The great thing about your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram crew is that they come from everywhere.
Let people know where you’re moving to on all of your social channels. You may find that you get invites from people you have not met in person before, or introductions to friends of friends.
At least that was my experience, and in fact, I met one of my closest friends by posting on Facebook announcing that I was moving from England to Vancouver so give it a try.
Join Facebook Groups
There are SO many Facebook groups that you can join to meet people and make friends when you move to a new place. I would recommend starting with groups in your area so that you can meet people locally. For example, here in Vancouver, there are the better Brits in Vancouver group that some of my friends started, the original Brits in Vancouver group, Irish in Vancouver, and Kiwi in Vancouver. I found these groups by simply searching ‘Vancouver’.
If networking online and being social is something you find hard, these are things that helped me to get out of my comfort zone.
Try Bumble BFF
While the Bumble app is thought to be primarily for dating, you’ll find that there’s a whole section devoted to finding your new BFF. This app works much like its dating counterpart where you create an account and then view other profiles. Like what you see? Arrange to meet up.
Watch A Sporting Event
Try New Stuff
No matter what, never be afraid of trying something new. Reach. Explore. The point is to get out of your comfort zone a little and make a point to meet other people doing the same thing.
Always Be Yourself
Regardless of how you meet new people, my biggest advice is to just be yourself. People can always tell if someone is not being themselves or putting on an act. So just be real and authentic.
I can promise you that you will not like or be liked by everyone you meet. But by just being yourself you will be able to build real friendships and connections. Your future friends will like you just as you are.
I hope these suggestions are helpful! There are so many ways to meet people wherever you are. It also doesn’t need to be complicated.
Once you start putting some time and effort into making friends when you move to a new place you will find that there are opportunities everywhere. So be bold and try something new. You’ll be glad that you did!
How can I overcome the initial nervousness and approach people to make friends in a new place?
What are some suitable social activities or events to attend to meet like-minded individuals?
Are there any tips for maintaining friendships and building deeper connections in a new city?
How do I balance making new friends with staying in touch with old ones from my previous location?
What can I do if I face challenges or setbacks in my efforts to make friends in a new place?
Are there any online platforms or local communities that can help connect newcomers and ease the process of making friends?
Gemma Lawrence is the creator of This Brits Life. Born and raised in England, she has been living in British Columbia, Canada as a permanent resident since 2016. A solo traveler for the past 9 years, she hopes to inspire and help others to enjoy solo adventures too. As someone who has always struggled with her self-confidence and mental health, she also shares tips and inspirational stories relating to self-love, self-care, and mental health.