When you live in one place for a long time, you establish a lot of friends and acquaintances.
You don't realize how these concentric circles of people in your life create a familiarity that feels safe and comforting.
You take for granted how effortless friendships are that have so much time and history.
You know one another really well, you know what to expect from each other, and even if you don't see your friends every day, you know they are there for you
They are the netting that holds life in place and gives you a sense of belonging.
How to Meet People in a New City
When you’re new to an area or have moved to a new city entirely, getting out there and being sociable is daunting. If all your family and friends live too far away to visit often, it can be doubly hard.
Especially for introverts, making friends in a new city takes a lot of emotional energy and effort. But you can't belly up and remain a hermit forever. You have to find places to meet new people.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to forge new connections. And thanks to the internet, exploring some of these options in your new hometown can be as easy as a few keystrokes. Others might be as simple as going out to explore the area.
Here are a few things to remember when figuring out where to meet people:
- Get to know your new city a bit first. Your local visitor's bureau, Chamber of Commerce, or newcomer's guide can be perfect resources for learning the lay of the land.
- Make finding new friends your second job. You have to be willing to put in the effort and try various socializing options before you find your “tribe.” But they are out there!
- Know that it will feel uncomfortable at first. It feels awkward to join a group or strike up a conversation when you don't know anyone. That's okay. You'll get past that.
- Remember that one acquaintance can lead to friendship. You may not meet your best friends right away, but keep socializing with those who aren't a perfect match. They can introduce you to others in their circles who might be.
- Be yourself. Of course, you want to put your best foot forward, but don't twist yourself into knots trying to fit in. Just be who you are, and you'll find the people who appreciate you and what you have to offer as a friend.
Now let's get specific with 37 ideas to help you form new connections and friendships. Which one of these will you try today?
- How to Meet People in a New City
- 37 Ways and Places to Meet New People
- 1. Take a hike.
- 2. Get involved in a sport or activity club.
- 3. Join a book club.
- 4. Volunteer in your community.
- 5. Join a MeetUp.
- 6. Talk to your neighbors.
- 7. Strike up conversations.
- 8. Walk your dog.
- 9. Sit at community tables.
- 10. Reach out on Facebook or other social media.
- 11. Host a party.
- 12. Find a business association.
- 13. Go to a cultural event.
- 14. Join the gym.
- 15. Ask for introductions.
- 16. Participate in Toastmasters or another speaking club.
- 17. Go on a wine or beer tour.
- 18. Take a dance class.
- 19. Find a church or religious community.
- 20. Go to seminars, book signings, or speaking events.
- 21. Hang out at a jazz or music club.
- 22. Take your book or computer to a coffee house.
- 23. Hang out at the local museum.
- 24. Take an art class (or any class).
- 25. Join the board of a charity.
- 26. Get a part-time job working with people you like.
- 27. Eat dinner at the bar of your favorite restaurant.
- 28. Visit your local farmer's market.
- 29. Join sites for women to meet new women friends.
- 30. Accept invitations.
- 31. Join a local walk/run or protest for a cause you support.
- 32. Join your local city council.
- 33. Take a bus tour or a walking tour of your new city.
- 34. Check out your local community center.
- 35. Cheer on local sports teams.
- 36. Give speed dating a try.
- 37. Find or start a pot luck dinner group.
- Take the first step to meet new people and make new friends.
Quick note: Meeting new people and improving the quality of your relationships is a skill that can be developed. To learn more, check out this course that can help you massively boost your confidence at work and home.
37 Ways and Places to Meet New People
1. Take a hike.
In most cities and even small towns, you'll find tons of beautiful hikes nearby. On a nice day, you'll likely encounter other hikers who are interesting and chatty.
When you're on the trail with someone, it's easy to strike up an authentic conversation without the distractions of daily life. When you're surrounded by the beauty of nature, it inspires connection.
If you enjoy hiking, meeting new people on a trail means you've found a friend who shares your passion for the great outdoors. That's one point in their favor already. Just remember, before you go your separate ways to suggest getting together again.
2. Get involved in a sport or activity club.
If you don't meet someone on the trail by yourself, join a hiking club where you hike with a group. If hiking isn't your thing, you can join a running or biking group, a softball team, or a tennis league.
Find a group who shares a physical activity you enjoy and become a regular. Strike up conversations with other members and suggest meeting for coffee, wine, or beer after an event or meeting.
3. Join a book club.
If you love books, a book club is a wonderful way to meet new people with a similar interest. You can find book clubs through your local bookstore, online, or through Meetup.com to meet people.
It may take a few tries with different book clubs before you find the right “fit” with a group who shares your taste in books and socializing. If you don't find the right fit for you, start your own club and invite other members to join.
4. Volunteer in your community.
There are so many fun opportunities for volunteering with large groups of people where you might find your tribe.
Volunteer in areas that are meaningful and interesting to you. You can volunteer as a coach, for a cultural event, or for a local art show.
If you're not sure what the volunteer opportunities are in your hometown, check out VolunteerMatch.org, Idealist.org, and HandsOn Network to match you with an organization who would love to have a little of your time and energy.
5. Join a MeetUp.
Whatever kind of group activity interests you, you'll find it at MeetUp.com. Scroll through the various events in your city to find something that lights your fire, or type in your interest and see what's available.
You'll find book clubs, networking groups, and social groups through MeetUp.
6. Talk to your neighbors.
Sometimes the places to meet new friends are right in our own backyards. Have you reached out to your neighbors lately?
If you see your neighbor working in the yard, walk over and speak to them and offer to help. Or make a little extra soup or an extra dozen cookies and walk them to the family down the street.
By extending yourself just a little, you might meet some wonderful new friends within a short walk of your home.
7. Strike up conversations.
Wherever you happen to be — in line at the post office, at the grocery store, or at a concert, start a conversation with someone around you.
Have a few conversation starters handy so you always have something to say to kick off a chat.
Yes, this might be uncomfortable at first, but if the other person is friendly and responsive, it might be the beginning of an interesting connection.
8. Walk your dog.
Do you have a furry friend who has joined you in your new town? Hopefully, you're in a dog-friendly city where many people include their pups when they walk, visit bars and breweries, or go on outings.
Taking your dog for a walk gives new people a reason to stop and talk to you. Other dogs will be naturally curious and drag their owners over to say hello (in doggie language).
If there's a dog park in your community, take a ball or frisbee and have an outing with your pet. The odds are good you'll meet people that are fellow dog lovers.
9. Sit at community tables.
Find restaurants that have community dinner tables or bar tables. Rather than isolating yourself at a two-top, sit at the community table or at the bar and meet new people seated nearby.
But don't just sit there. Introduce yourself and speak to the people around you. Tell them that you're new to the area and ask for their suggestions about fun things to do and things to see.
10. Reach out on Facebook or other social media.
When you first move to your new city, look on Facebook for other residents in your area.
Through Facebook, you may discover some old friends or acquaintances that you didn't know lived nearby. Or maybe one of your Facebook friends knows some people in your new area and can introduce you. Reach out to a few and meet up for coffee.
11. Host a party.
Host your own casual dinner party or open house and invite your neighbors, people from work, or acquaintances you've bumped into along the way.
Invite them to bring a friend along so you expand your potential circle of new connections. You don't have to do anything elaborate. Make a pot of soup or order a few pizzas. The point is to simply bring people together and expand your circles.
12. Find a business association.
Are there groups or associations related to your career? Research local business events and attend them so you can network professionally and personally.
When you chat with other participants, expand your conversation beyond the typical business topics. Ask about their interests and hobbies, and perhaps you'll find a like-minded person to socialize with.
13. Go to a cultural event.
Become an annual member of the symphony, local theater, or ballet. Attend the performances as well as the fundraising and member events.
Strike up conversations with other attendees who are there because they appreciate the arts just like you.
If you prefer visual art, visit your local galleries, talk with the owners or managers, and discuss the art with other guests.
14. Join the gym.
One of the best ways to meet people is in a class at the gym. But if classes aren't your thing, spend time in the weight room when it's busy so you can converse with other gym rats.
If there's a cafe or juice bar at your gym, hang out for a bit after your workout and connect with other members.
15. Ask for introductions.
If you have a couple of friends or acquaintances who have a larger circle of friends, ask them to introduce you to new people.
If you've moved to a new city, maybe your existing friends know people in your new city. Ask them to make an email connection and then follow up yourself to suggest a get-together.
16. Participate in Toastmasters or another speaking club.
Public speaking isn't fun for most people, but when you're thrown in a setting where everyone shares the same fears and learning curve, it can quickly break the ice.
Speaking clubs not only give you the confidence to make presentations, but they also give you the chance to meet a variety of new and interesting people.
17. Go on a wine or beer tour.
Maybe you live in a city with local breweries that offer brew tours. Join in the fun and after a few beers, it will much easier to chat with others.
If you have wineries nearby or even restaurants that offer wine tastings, sign up, and meet other connoisseurs. Beer, wine, and socializing always seem to pair well together.
18. Take a dance class.
Ballroom dancing is a great way to get up close and personal with potential new friends or romantic partners. But you don't have to stick with ballroom dance.
Take a jazz class, Zumba, or Salsa dancing. It's great exercise, and you'll meet fun people who enjoy kicking up their heels.
19. Find a church or religious community.
If you're a spiritual person or have a strong faith, your church, synagogue, or other religious community is the perfect place to meet supportive, like-minded friends.
But don't just attend a service and leave. You may need to participate in a Sunday School class or other small gathering to break the ice and get to know other members.
20. Go to seminars, book signings, or speaking events.
Look in your local community guide to see what happenings and events are coming up in your area. Attend some of these events and try to sit next to someone who might be looking for a new friend too.
You'll have plenty to talk about given the nature of the event. Show interest in the other person's opinions and impressions about the event and share your own.
21. Hang out at a jazz or music club.
Do you enjoy jazz or some other music genre that works well in a smaller venue and allows for conversation?
Find a relaxed, low key club where you can listen to great music and start up an interesting conversation.
22. Take your book or computer to a coffee house.
When you start to feel house-bound (especially if you work from home), go to a local Starbucks or indie coffee house to work.
It's easy to keep your head down in your computer or book, but look up every now and then and survey the landscape.
Strike up a conversation with the person at the table next to you. You never know who you might meet.
23. Hang out at the local museum.
Get thee to a museum!
Do you like art? Natural history? Science? Most cities have one or several museums devoted to something that interests you.
You'll have no shortage of things to talk about if you chat it up with another museum-goer.
24. Take an art class (or any class).
Taking a class automatically throws you into a group of like-minded people.
Try to enroll in a more hands-on class rather than a lecture course, which will allow you to talk with other students. Some kind of art class generally allows for more conversation.
Make a point to introduce yourself to other students and initiate conversation with those around you.
25. Join the board of a charity.
Do you have a cause that's particularly meaningful to you? If so, get really involved by becoming a board member or key player for the organization.
As a leader/decision-maker in the non-profit world, you'll be exposed to a variety of interesting people who support your cause.
26. Get a part-time job working with people you like.
If you work from home or in an environment that isn't conducive to meeting new people, then consider a part-time job working in a more social environment.
Working just a few hours a week as a host/hostess at a restaurant, in a coffee shop, or as a bartender will give you the chance to meet hundreds of the different people.
27. Eat dinner at the bar of your favorite restaurant.
It can be intimidating to go to a restaurant by yourself, but try dining out and sitting at the bar instead of alone at a table. Chat up the bartender (if he/she isn't too busy) and make conversation with the people around you.
Whatever you do, don't put your head in a book or your iPhone. Try to appear approachable and friendly to other people.
28. Visit your local farmer's market.
Farmer's markets are so much fun, especially if you enjoy cooking and healthy eating. If you do, you'll find plenty of other people who share your food values, so make a morning of it.
Talk to the farmer's, ask questions, and invite conversation with other shoppers. These events often have a festive, sociable atmosphere, so make the most of it.
29. Join sites for women to meet new women friends.
If you are a woman, and you haven't met your soulmate friend yet, maybe it's time to take some serious action.
There are new sites online similar to the Match.com concept — but rather than matching romantic partners, they match potential friends. (I haven't run across any sites like this for men, so sorry guys!)
30. Accept invitations.
If you want to meet new people, don't turn down invitations to social events.
Even if you think the event might not be your thing, take a chance and go anyway. You never know who you'll meet or what connections you might make.
You can always leave if you're having a bad time, but if you don't go — you'll never know!
31. Join a local walk/run or protest for a cause you support.
If there’s a cause you support, your community might sponsor a run/walk to raise funds for it. Or if you want to raise awareness of injustice, you can contact organizations that hold events such as protests, sit-ins, and marches.
Show up and lend your presence and your voice to support others in a cause worth fighting for. You’ll meet others who are there for the same reason. And who knows what else you’ll have in common.
In the meantime, you’ll be taking action to make the world better for everyone.
32. Join your local city council.
A great way to meet new people is to become more active in local politics and to speak up for causes you support. You can do this by joining your local city council and showing up for meetings.
Becoming more aware of the issues important to your community also helps you become more aware of your positions on each. Approach it with a commitment to learning more and hearing new perspectives.
The more you show up, the more familiar you’ll become with those equally committed to making improvements for the benefit of their community.
33. Take a bus tour or a walking tour of your new city.
If you’re brand new to a big city, why not take advantage of a local tour to meet new people, whether they live in the area or are just visiting. Friends don’t have to live in your neighborhood to be an important part of your life.
But the more you explore your new neighborhood, the more people you’re likely to meet.
If taking any form of public transit isn’t safe, consider joining an online forum or your city’s social media pages to get better acquainted with it. You’ll meet other members who are there to help new residents make the most of the area.
34. Check out your local community center.
If your new city has a community center near you, check it out and pick up a copy of their calendar to keep track of interesting activities or events. Show up for some and mingle to get acquainted with locals who might become friends.
If your community has a support group that could benefit you or a loved one, that’s another way to connect with like-minded locals. Online support groups are also an option, if circumstances make in-person meetings impractical.
Taking part in local activities and events or in online resources for your community will make it easier for you to make meaningful connections.
35. Cheer on local sports teams.
If you’re a sports fan and want to cheer on your local sports teams, check out your local stadium and show up for games to show your support. You’re likely to meet other local sports fans and can strike up interesting conversations with them during breaks.
If someone in your family loves a particular sport, all the more reason to show up for their games. Or take them to the stadium so they can watch and learn from teams they might someday join.
In any case, the players and their families will appreciate your support. And that can be the start of new friendships.
36. Give speed dating a try.
Perhaps you're hoping to meet someone who is more than a friend. If you're seeking a romantic partner, but you don't want to hang out in bars or sit at home surfing dating sites, then speed dating might be just the thing for you.
This in-person matchmaking event gives you the chance to meet many different men or women in a short span of time. Even if you don't find the love of your life, you may make some new friends and have some laughs.
37. Find or start a pot luck dinner group.
Nothing's more fun than socializing around great food. And it's much more fun when you don't have to prepare the entire meal.
If you can't find a pot luck dinner group to join, start one of your own. Invite one or two people you know, and ask them to suggest other possible members.
Everyone takes turn hosting the dinner, so you'll get the opportunity to see new neighborhoods and areas of town you may not have know about.
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Take the first step to meet new people and make new friends.
As you practice some of these ideas for meeting new people, remember that you'll have to push through some discomfort as you put yourself out there.
You'll need to step up and introduce yourself, initiate a conversation, or suggest meeting up. Even then, it may take some time to discover your tribe of new friends who feel comfortable and supportive.
You can't develop a friendship with someone unless you go through the “developing” stage, which can be a little stiff and awkward at first. Building trust, closeness, and camaraderie will be a work in progress, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a great social life in the meantime.
The more you put yourself in social settings, the better the odds are that you'll meet interesting, fun new people who will improve your life, even if they don't ultimately become your best friends.