How to Find Friends in a New City

  • Copy by: Nicole Ziza Bauer

 

I didn’t really get it before.

I mean, I had moved before—roughly nine times in the course of nine years—but all of those were apartment switches in a city I called home for close to a decade. It wasn’t until my husband and I decided to relocate from Los Angeles to Nashville (with about three weeks notice) that I got it. Moving isn’t just the proverbial test of “which friends love us the most to help us move our stuff across town…and who also happen to have a truck and a desire to work for free pizza.” It isn’t just an exhausting trek that takes a toll on your wallet, hygiene, and sanity. Moving, despite the excitement and adventure therein, is hard. Really hard.

And as an adult who is no longer tucked safely in the cohort of college dorm rooms or lecture halls, it can be especially hard to make new friends in a brand new city. It’s hard to leave what’s familiar and comfortable, and it’s hard to open yourself up to vulnerability. But, I promise, you can do it. And you’ll be all the more wiser, smarter, and compassionate because of it.

So, if you find yourself in a similar place of starting over and in need of friends, wind up that virtual Rolodex and start here:

 

Use Your Current Community

Source: Gal Meets Glam

Take advantage of everyone (seriously, everyone) who says, “Oh, you’re moving to ___? You should meet ___!” This is no time to feign interest in blind friend dates (there will be time for that later). One of the best places to start when moving to a new city is to tap the resources you currently trust for friend leads.

The girlfriend of your roommate’s second cousin could be a worthwhile email, even if all it leads to is a recommendation for a great hairstylist. You need to start somewhere, and it’s best if you start with those you know. In the mobile and widespread generation we live in, don’t underestimate a six degree separation from your new BFF.

 

Consider Neighborhoods

Source: Brittany Wood for designlovefest

Maybe you found a killer deal for a private backhouse way out in the country. That’s great for your budget, but in the early stages of a new city transition it may not be the best for your social life. If you’re moving to a new place solo, then seriously consider the pros and cons of how your new living arrangement will put you in the proximity of other people.

This might mean a restructure of your finances so you can live central to the town’s main hub or you choose to rent a room in house with three roommates (when you thought you wanted a place of your own). Remember: You don’t have to stay in any one apartment or neighborhood forever, but when starting out, it may help you find friendships (in unlikely places, even) if you maintain regular human contact.

 

Develop a Routine

Source: Margo and Me

I often think about the scene from Under the Tuscan Sun when Diane Lane’s character says: “The trick to overcoming buyer’s remorse is to have a plan. Pick one room in the house and make it yours.” I really think this can be applied to any transitional time in life. When you’re overwhelmed, start small and with one thing. Make it yours.

Your daily routine is a great example. Could it be SoulCycle after work? A scone at the local bakery every Sunday? A trip to the dog park on the weekends? Developing a routine will get you outside of the house quicker than your social calendar might, which will help you own your new city. You may even feel more confident to introduce yourself to those who might share a similar routine. After all, you have nothing to lose—and possibly a new friend to gain—by being friendly.

 

Get Active

Source: Jillian Harris

Speaking of SoulCycle, any fitness activity is great for meeting people. Whether it’s a recreation league at the gym, running club in your neighborhood, or the hot yoga studio with the best reviews, friendship has the potential to blossom where people gather to workout. Pay particular attention to flyers around the studio or gym, too. Many will advertise special workshops, guest teachers, or other social events.

Not into working out? Find classes that appeal to other hobbies you have. Is it improv comedy? Learning how to weave? A writing club to finally start the book you talk about? Moving is a great time to focus on your passions and find some new friends along the way.

 

Volunteer

Source: Erin Boyle

You might think that committing to a volunteer schedule is too much to think about after a move, but it could actually be the best time to dive in. While your co-workers might be a good source of friendship outside of the office, it’s never guaranteed. It’s a lot of pressure if a new job also needs to be the source of everything else “new” in your life.

Instead, moving to a new city is a great time to think about what causes you’re really passionate about. A clear social calendar means you don’t have a million obligations to distract you from going after it. Volunteering will also surround you with like-minded people that are easy to bond with—it’s a natural, organic place to start.

 

Say Yes

Source: Jamie Beck

As you start putting yourself out there, keep “Maybe another time” or “Thanks for the invite, but…” far from your vocabulary. Moving to a new city is the time to say, “Sure!” and “That sounds great!” to whatever invite comes your way, even if it’s something you’d normally have no interest in doing.

This isn’t about pretending to be someone you’re not, but about leaving yourself open to potential opportunities for mingling. Maybe a gallery opening isn’t quite your thing, but over a cocktail you meet the sister of an artist who went to your alma mater. Perfect! Maybe you’re terrible at beach volleyball, but you go along anyway to keep score and have a few laughs. You might just surprise yourself as a result!

 

Be Honest (and patient!)

Source: @stylestructure

There will inevitably come a time when you just can’t do it anymore. No more right swipes. No more MeetUps. No more surface-level conversations about career, travel, and weather. You’ll be so over this whole transition thing that you’ll spend all your time Netflix-ing and researching flight deals to your old hometown.

And that’s OK; necessary, even. Building a life somewhere new takes time. Don’t let the peak of the mountain prevent you from stepping on the trail. Also, don’t be afraid to be honest in sharing that you’re actually having a difficult time. Almost everyone can relate to a time of feeling new, and sometimes skipping the surface to get to the heart of where you are can take a casual coffee to the next soul-enriching level of conversation. You just might have to open up first.

In the end, the best friendships are a slow build. By moving, you’ve already allowed your story to start a new chapter, so remain available for the unexpected still ahead. It won’t be helpful to compare where you’ve been to where you are now, but it will be a relief to find out that you’re still YOU through it all. Just with new zip code.

Have you recently (or previously) made a big move? What helped during the transition?

 

 

This article was originally published on December 6, 2016

  • When I moved to Cleveland, I made a lot of friends on social media that ended up becoming friends IRL. Some cities also have yuppie sports leagues – I would suggest exploring those as well. Finally, I would also recommending attending events hosted by local YP organizations, or joining a local dinner club if it exists in your new city! Explore your new home and keep an open mind.

    • Nicole Ziza Bauer

      An open mind makes all the difference! Thanks for reading!

  • Erin

    These were great tips, Nicole. I especially agree with the meeting friends of friends and saying yes to everything points!

    • Nicole Ziza Bauer

      Yes!! Thanks for reading!

  • It’s been just about a year and a half that I’ve been living in LA and I’ve tried following these steps. How do you know when it’s time to call it quits and try somewhere new? P.S. I never really wanted to move here and only moved out when my boyfriend got a job and asked me to move with him.

    • Nicole Ziza Bauer

      Man, I think that’s a personal feel for everyone and honesty with yourself makes all the difference. If you’re only staying someplace for someone else’s “yeses” and not your own, then maybe start there? You always have a choice for a fresh start 🙂 Good luck!

    • curly215

      Hey Alyssa! I know you wrote this comment almost a year ago now, and you might be in a new place, or maybe LA has started to feel like home, but I’m in LA and feel the same way. I actually grew up here, but I’ve drifted from childhood friends and college friends aren’t here. I know how hard it can be to feel socially isolated. Just wanted to tell you not to give up. Keep going and you’ll find your people!

  • Hannah Marie Crouse

    I’m 23 and just moved to Nashville and need to find friends! Loved reading this! Maybe we could meet up for coffee sometime downtown???

    • Nicole Ziza Bauer

      Welcome! There’s a wealth of friendly people here 🙂 Feel free to email me!

  • Clara DV

    These are great tips. I’ve moved twice in the past 2 years and it is hard. I know this isn’t for everyone, but Bumble BFF actually helped me find friends; not directly on the app but through people I met on there. It’s a great way to get out, specially if you organise a meeting with a bunch of girls. There are so many of us out there trying to make new friends!

    • Nicole Ziza Bauer

      Thanks for reading! And yes, once we realize we’re not as alone as we think we are, that helps immensely 🙂

    • Angela

      I definitely second Bumble BFF! I used it after a breakup when I was feeling like it might be good to have some new activity partners. I’ve had some misses on there too (just like using the dating side of it, ha) but I’ve also made a few really good friends on it!

  • So Beautiful

    • Nicole Ziza Bauer

      thanks for reading!

  • This is a fantastic article! Even though I’m not moving, coming out of college I’ve realized how few friends I now have in the area. Great tips!

  • Heather Miller

    When I moved to Chicago 3 years ago I found making friends organically very difficult! Then I joined Junior League 1 year ago and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made! It’s a community service group of women who volunteer in your city and help with a variety of organizations. Each chapter is a little different, but Chicago’s chapter is also very social and lots of women join to make friends. Most major cities have a Junior League chapter and every woman I meet is so friendly and wonderful and I have a wonderful group of friends now! I would highly highly recommend Junior League if your city has a chapter!

    • The Everygirl

      This is a great tip, Heather!

  • Gustavo Woltmann

    These tips are awesome. They are practical and very useful to meet new friends in a new neighborhood.

  • Jenny Boyce

    Thank you for this article, i can relate to it 100%! I moved to Boston this last March from San Diego. I left behind an amazing group of friends and a solid network. Moving across country to a city that is known for its tight-knit community, only knowing one person here, was and still is difficult. Luckily, through that one friend, I was introduced to a few other women who have quickly become good friends to me. My motto when I moved was to “say yes”. And I feel like it has been helpful, but I have yet to broaden my circle of friends here to be anywhere close to what i left behind in SD. BUT even just reading this article makes me feel better knowing I’m not alone in this challenge, which is comforting on its own. I go forward everyday with the mantra of “it’s going to take time” and to “trust the process”. I know that building a new life in a new city, much like Rome, can’t be built in day.

    • The Everygirl

      Thanks for sharing this, Jenny! We love your “say yes” motto 🙂

      • Kayla Canty

        Great Article with Great tips!

    • Kayla Canty

      I completely know how you feel Jenny! I recently moved to Boston 4 months ago from South Carolina and being a southern girl at heart it is very hard to meet people in a brand new city! We should hang out sometime! 🙂

      • Jenny Boyce

        Hey Kayla! Absolutely! Let’s connect on IG 🙂 mine is @jenpen03

        • Kayla Canty

          Awesome! 🙂

  • MeaganDut

    These are great tips, especially for a larger city! I just moved home to my small-ish town after 9 years away. I try to be friendly with people I run into from high school who stayed in town, even if we were never friends back then. I’ve changed a lot in 9 years, so they probably have too! It’s been a great way to meet people from outside of my workplace 🙂

  • Martina Myers

    I’m moving in just a few short months to possibly a new city! One my biggest fearsome is making new friends but will def use this tips in the article!

  • Lifestylequeenbee

    I moved to Toronto last April and almost a year later, I still haven’t made one friend. I’m an introvert so I’ve made it my mission to get out there this year and make at least one friend

    • The Everygirl

      This is a great mission! It can be difficult, but the rewards are so worth it 🙂

  • ediotu

    When I moved to the Washington D.C. area, I got connected at Capital Life Church. They have an active young professionals group which welcomed me with opened arms. A year later most of my best friends are from that group. We do things ranging from wine & cheese movie nights to volunteering to serve the homeless together. I highly recommend that church if you are in the DMV area.

  • Linda Stefanie

    I just moved from California to NYC and I really needed to read this, especially your last point. It’s so heard to go from a place where you have such quality friends to a place where you know almost no one. It’s easy to forget that it took years and years to build up the friendships you have. It all takes time and that’s okay, it leaves some room to help you discover who you are and who you want to be. That being said, if there is anyone reading this who lives in New York, let’s be friends! 🙂

  • McKenna Begin

    This article came at the perfect time! I’m moving to Seattle from Washington DC where I’ve been for the past 4 years this summer. Haven’t been to Seattle and loosely “know” only two people. I’m ready for the challenge and adventure though!!

  • Carmen

    When I moved to Chicago with my boyfriend I started an account on Bumble BFF in order to meet girls with similar interests. This has turned into the “Chicago Bumble Brunch Club”, which now has 70 members! We get together frequently for drinks, brunch, workout classes-and we have even now started a book club! The most important thing ive learned is to put yourself out there, what do you have to lose!? If youre in Chicago, add our group on Facebook!

  • meet up is such a great platform to find people with same interests and passion, made so many friends through it!
    http://www.thestyletune.com

  • Chloe

    Moving to a new place is really hard, I moved quite far away with only a few days notice and I wish I’d have found this back then. You’ve included such good tips and I can see how you’re bound to meet people if using these tips 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    Have a good weekend!

    Chloe @ https://girllgonerogue.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Awesome post! It is very difficult to make friends in a new city. When I lived in Milan, there was a Facebook group for expats. I always saw posts about meet-ups and/or events. Although, I never attended any of the group meet-ups, it is one way of meeting people…just a suggestion.

  • I completely agree with saying ‘yes’. I dragged myself out even when I didn’t feel like it and it made such a different. Depending on the city, Tinder is actually a great tool. In Seoul, it is full of foreigners looking for friends. Most of my closest friends have come from here!

  • I completely agree with saying ‘yes’. I dragged myself out even when I didn’t feel like it and it made such a different. Depending on the city, Tinder is actually a great tool. In Seoul, it is full of foreigners looking for friends. Most of my closest friends have come from here!

  • Wonderful tips, I moved over a year ago and I could have used these tips honestly but I think some of them I can still apply

    http://www.alotoftolablog.blogspot.com

  • I love this post!! I live in Cardiff, UK and live on my own. Despite living here for 3 years for university, its completely different living on my own as a professional! Volunteering and looking out for workout groups is definitely something i’m aiming to try x

    Abi | abistreetx

  • Nicole, this really hit home for me. I just moved to nashville 2 months ago to open a new restaurant and while I love my work I am having trouble making girl friends. Making girl friends has never been the easiest thing for me as I grew up with 2 older brothers. Are there any communities you love in Nashville that you recommend?

  • Laura

    I’m so glad I came across this post! I’m going to university in a different city soon so I’ll definitely be using these tips to make new friends there!

  • Joining a yoga studio created a network of people I now know =o) It’s always great to find people who share a hobby with you!

    http://dreamofadventures.com/

  • I recently (well, it was 9 months ago) moved from DC to Canada – before that, I moved from Hawaii to DC. I didn’t know anyone, and still don’t have a friend. I’m living with my boyfriend, so I guess his friends are mine and I’m close with his family, but I’m longing for friends of my own, like I had back home in Hawaii or in college. I’m not that close with people at work, because they really just seem uninterested. So it’s hard to just “get out there” and make friends out of thin air. But I hope it happens for me soon, it would be so nice to settle down and feel at home a bit more.