Making friends as an adult is tough enough when you’re familiar with your surroundings and the people in them, but transplanting to a whole new city can make it even more difficult.
Whether you move with your partner, family, or alone, it takes time to build a social network and form lasting friendships.
Use these tips on how to meet people in a new city, and find yourself with a bustling social calendar before you know it.
How Do I Find Friends When I Move to a New Area?
Spoiler alert: you have to be around people to befriend people. You have to leave your house and talk to people you come across.
And the sooner you make an effort to meet and engage with people, the sooner you’ll find yourself with plenty of pals to keep you company.
There are a few things that may affect your ability to make new friends:
- Size of the new city. Smaller towns or boroughs may not have as many people or opportunities as larger cities. Making friends in a new town may require branching out to neighboring towns and cities.
- Your comfort level. How introverted or extroverted you are can also play a role. If you tend to have a hard time striking up conversations, think of topics and prepare questions ahead of time to reduce the pressure and intimidation of talking to people.
- Knowing your value. Don’t assume others don’t like you. If you get rejected, remember your worth and assume positive intent.
- Being patient. Friendships don’t form overnight. Practice patience and let them happen naturally. Don’t force it.
How Long Does It Take to Make New Friends in a New City?
There isn’t a definitive answer as to how long it will take you to make friends in a new city, but friendship stages tend to develop as you spend more time together.
One study shows it can take as many ninety hours of hanging out to build a friendship and over 200 hours to leap to close friends. It varies, of course, and depends on a few things:
- Amount of time spent. The more time you devote to making friends, the quicker it will happen for you.
- The number of people you meet. The more people you meet and talk to, the more likely you’ll connect and find new friends.
- How much effort you make. It’s not enough to simply show up; you have to engage with people.
How to Make Friends in a New City: 21 Human-Tested Tips
Feeling like the new kid in town can be a lonely place. Sure, it’s a prime time to get to know yourself better and practice self-care, but too many solo nights in or companionless outings can leave you longing for people to spend time and share experiences with.
The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to create an active social life with people you want to be around.
1. Utilize existing connections.
One of the easiest ways to meet new people is through people you already know. Ask existing friends if they know anyone in the city you’re moving to. They might have former classmates, colleagues, or family members you’d get along with or that could show you around.
Even if these new connections don’t become part of your social circle, they could introduce you to those who will. Start asking around before you ever set foot in your new city.
2. There are apps for that.
Like dating apps, friendship apps can connect you with potential new friends. Features vary, but basically, you create a profile with pictures and a bio, filter your preferences according to gender, age range, shared interests, etc., and then browse other profiles for potential matches.
Some apps are more general, while others are built around commonalities such as motherhood or playing sports. Some apps even host public events and meetups, so you connect safely. There are dozens, but a few examples are Yubo, WINK, Peanut, and ATLETO.
3. Befriend new coworkers.
One good place to start making friends is with your new coworkers. You see them every day anyway, so try to get to know them better. Interact with as many people as you can and see who you connect with. Then ask them to hang out or show you around.
Or ask about the best place to grab lunch or dinner and invite a few people to join you. You could also initiate a group activity like happy hour or going to a ball game.
4. Check out the Chamber of Commerce.
Most, if not all, communities have a Chamber of Commerce or similar alliance designed to support the local area.
Check its website for valuable information about the city, including a business directory and a visitor’s section with things to do, places to go, community events, and places to eat.
You can also find information on education opportunities, municipal and school board meetings, and how to get involved in the community.
5. Know thy neighbor.
Another good source of potential pals is the people who live nearby. Make it a point to chat up your neighbors to gauge if there’s a chance for friendship. Help them if they need it and show courtesy if they do something nice for you.
Even if you don’t end up hanging out a lot, it’s better to be on good terms anyway. Neighbors tend to look out for each other–and you never know when you might need a cup of sugar.
6. Have a get-together.
One great option is to host a gathering at your new home. Have a housewarming party, a BBQ or brunch, or a game night, whatever you prefer.
Invite a few people you’ve met during your time in your new city – neighbors, coworkers, the person you joke with while in line for coffee every morning. Perhaps ask each person to bring one guest.
It doesn’t need to be extravagant – just a small gathering to feel out any budding friendships.
7. Adopt a pup.
Assuming your living quarters allow four-legged friends, consider getting a dog. Look into adopting a rescue pup if possible. Call around to area vet offices to inquire or visit an animal shelter.
Aside from possibly befriending the source of your new pet, you’ll also have opportunities to talk to other dog owners at the park or obedience classes. There are also apps for dog owners to meet up (see #2.)
8. Visit a cat cafe.
Cat lovers unite! Cat cafes are popping up all over and are a great way to get your feline fix. Pet and play with cats and kittens of all ages, watch them chase each other around, and allow them to entertain you with their crazy cat antics.
Not only is it adorable, but it’s also a great way to meet– and potentially befriend– fellow cat lovers, maybe even adopt a cat.
9. Become a volunteer.
What better way to meet new people than by giving back at the same time? There are undoubtedly plenty of volunteer opportunities in your new community.
Help out at an animal shelter, wash dishes at a soup kitchen, volunteer at the library – whatever you’re passionate about.
You’re not only meeting potential new friends with similar values, but you’re also sharing your time with those in need and giving back to society.
10. Use social media.
Make the most of social media when meeting people in a new city. Join Facebook groups aimed at members of your new community, and introduce yourself.
Follow local businesses on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay on top of area happenings. Like and comment on their posts, attend their events, and engage with people while there.
You can also use social media to rediscover former ties. Find out if any former classmates or colleagues are nearby that you can reconnect with.
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11. Be kind to strangers.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the day or preoccupied with other aspects of life. Be mindful of how you interact with people.
Say please and thank you while shopping around town, leave good tips at coffee shops and restaurants, respond kindly if someone accidentally bumps into you.
Be nice to everyone you meet, or at least don’t be mean. You never know when a random conversation could lead to a friendship or an introduction to another potential friend.
12. Join a social club.
The basis of making friends is typically shared experiences or interests. If you want to make friends with people who enjoy some of the same things as you, then take steps to meet such people.
Join an Elks or Moose Lodge or a group dedicated to professionals in your field. Find a book club that reads your kind of books. Become part of a bowling league or amateur sports league. Play chess at the community center. The possibilities are endless.
Engage in whatever activities you enjoy and make conversation with other members.
13. Learn something new.
Learning a new skill is never a bad idea. In-person learning is slowly returning, but even online courses can give you access to new people.
Check out community colleges for cooking, art, or pottery classes. Locate a nearby dance studio and take up ballroom dancing or whatever else floats your boat. Learn to speak a new language or how to decorate cakes.
Chat up other participants and invite those you connect with to hang out.
14. Get fit.
You have to work out anyway, so why not make friends at the same time? Choose a physical activity you enjoy and get moving.
Join a gym, yoga studio, or CrossFit class and strike up a conversation with others.
Find cycling or walking trails, and talk to other cyclists or walkers. Play basketball in the park and maybe ask to join a pickup game.
Let your new acquaintances know you’re new in town and ask them to join you for a drink or coffee.
15. Tap your new network.
Once you start making acquaintances, keep the ball rolling. Ask for more introductions and encourage them to include more people when you hang out. Befriend people you meet through people you’ve already met.
If you moved with your partner or family, they might have met new people, too. Try spending time with the parents of your kids’ new school friends. Or maybe your partner made some new friends, and you get along with them or their partner.
16. Keep an open mind.
You most definitely adopted preferences in activities over the years. That’s fine, but keep an open mind about trying new things. Stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing.
Don’t do things you hate, but instead of avoiding people and things you’re unfamiliar with simply because you’re unfamiliar, say yes to opportunities you wouldn’t normally agree to.
You not only have a chance to try something new, but you might meet some pretty cool people while doing it.
17. Be persistent.
It’s not realistic to expect to make friends overnight. Or without effort.
The truth is friendships take time to develop. To make friends in your new stomping grounds, keep in touch with new connections – follow up after hanging out, ask how they’re doing, engage with them on social media. Don’t force it, but keep at it.
Also, people like things they are familiar with. Show up regularly to become more familiar and, therefore, more likable.
18. Get spiritual.
You don’t have to be religious to believe in something beyond yourself. Spirituality is a broad concept with plenty of room for various perspectives. It suggests belief in a higher source that provides a sense of connection to others and the world.
If you are religious, find a place to worship–a temple, church, synagogue, mosque–whatever fits your lifestyle.
If you’re not a religious person, attend meditation centers or yoga studios to practice whatever level of spirituality you prefer.
Connecting through shared faith or spirituality is a great way to meet people and build friendships.
19. Approach and be approachable.
Being surrounded by people doesn’t automatically translate to friendships. You also need to engage with those people in a friendly manner.
Take the initiative in creating conversation and making plans, and be likable. Adopt a more optimistic outlook rather than complain about other people or your situation.
Put your phone down instead of scrolling social media at the cafe every morning. Make eye contact with other customers. Talk to them. Respond when they talk to you. Compliment them. Be enthusiastic.
20. Get a roommate.
If you have a bedroom to spare, consider renting it out. Find a local who needs a place to stay or someone else who is also new to the area. Between your roommate and the people your roommate knows, there’s a great source of potential friends.
Additionally, a roommate not only comes with friendship potential, but a little help with the bills can put some extra money in your pocket to get out and enjoy yourself.
21. Support local businesses.
You’re going to eat and buy things anyway, so you may as well support the local economy in your new city.
Visit area cafes and specialty shops. Check out different restaurants and bars. Hit up craft breweries and wine tasting rooms.
Participate in karaoke or trivia nights. Spend Saturday mornings at the flea market. Attend local events like craft fairs, concerts in the park, or block parties. Talk to the owner and employees.
Making friends in a new city as an adult can be difficult, but you have the power to create the social life you want for yourself.
Instead of waiting for friendships to happen to you, make them happen for you with a little effort to engage with as many people as possible. You’ll have a new circle of chums before you know it!