Wondering how to make friends in a new city? This guide provides you with easy ways to make long lasting friendships even if you’re miles away from home or have moved to a country where a different language is spoken.
Trying to make friends in a new city when you’re an adult can be incredibly daunting. All of those playground fears of rejection crop up again, and it can leave you wondering where to start.
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Learning how to make new friends in a city doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds though. In fact, it could be as simple as a three step process. It all comes down to three basic steps.
Before we start, I recommend checking out ‘How to win friends and influence people’, an international best-seller by Dale Carnegie.
It shows you how to get more people to like you, and transforms you from a socially awkward and timid person to someone who is confident and collected. Definitely worth a read.
Making new friends is more than just figuring out where to meet people, it’s also about how to nourish those long lasting connections.
Not sure it’s possible for you? I highly recommend checking out this inspiring story of how an introvert made 200+ friends in 30 days in a brand new city!
The Mindset that Leads to More Friends
Moving to a whole new city is effectively like being thrown in the deep end when it comes to making new friends; it’s a sink or swim situation.
According to Certified Life Coach, Desiree Wiercyski, our own perception could be getting in the way of making new friends.
‘We think that everyone else has their lives together, all the friends they would ever want, and wouldn’t care or having time for new connections’ says Wiercyski. But that’s not actually true.
Many people are looking to expand their social network, and make new friends for many different reasons too. When making new friends, focus on your strengths.
If you’re a great listener for example, you’ll find it much easier to connect with someone else.
Focus on what you can bring to the table, and try not to get hung up on what people think of you.
According to Scientific American, people spend 80% of their waking time thinking about themselves and how ‘well’ they are regarded by other people.
This means they are far too preoccupied worrying about themselves to judge you.
While making friends in bars, networking sessions and work can be a great place to start, I figured I would talk about some other exciting and interesting ways to make new friends in a new city.
What About Learning a New Language?
In my late teens, I ended up getting a job in Switzerland, and needed to move there. Alone. Without my family. This was incredibly daunting, especially when I wasn’t fluent in the native language!
For this reason, in today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the best ways to make new friends in a new city as well as what to do if you’ve moved to a new country and need to know another language to survive.
Activities: How to Make Friends in a New City As an Adult
1. Make Friends with Apps First
Apps can be incredibly helpful when making a big move.
When I moved to a new city, and hey, even when I wanted to make new friends in my current city, I downloaded a few apps.
Meetup is not like your typical meeting app. For starters, you don’t meet people one-one, you meet in groups. Always. And you meet because you have a similar interest to others in the group i.e. I joined a Girl Gone International Group.
Every week, 10-15 young women would meet in a local bar, club or coffee shop and hang out.
We were all frequent travellers and talked for hours about different countries, cultures and sights we had seen.
The great thing about this? New people turned up every time.
You weren’t limited to the same faces which means more exposure to new people and social circles.
There were also food groups for city foodies, wine tasting groups, activity nights, informal language classes, book clubs and much more! Highly recommend checking it out.
2. Read Those Coffee Shop Flyers
This was a little tip I picked up when I was desperately looking for new ways to make friends.
Coffee shop flyers are often chock-full of local events, parties and get togethers.
Some people even advertise local clubs and groups. You never know what might pique your interest!
3. Walk a Dog (Even if you Don’t Have One)
This may sound a little weird, but hear me out. Dog walking gets you out and about and mingling with other people, and as a dog owner myself, people who own dogs are often highly social.
“Dogs serve as instant ice breakers, the joke that a dog is [the] best wingman is a trope for a reason,’’ says Wiercyski.
Some cities even have dog friendly cafes. If you’re not a fan of dogs, and like cats, head to a cat friendly café instead.
4. Actually Get Involved in Community & Work-Related Activities
This goes without saying but besides apps, work is your best bet at making new friends in a new city in the first few months.
Colleagues will often hang out together after work too, either at a bar or do some kind of social activity like go bowling.
Introduce yourself early on and make it your mission to get to know others in your place of work.
Tip: people love talking about themselves, so if you’re genuinely interested in what they do (either professionally or as a hobby), show it! The key here though is that it has to be genuine.
Other ways to Make New Friends in a New City
1) Reach out to old friends and see if they can introduce you to anyone in your new area.
3) Connect with a faith group
4) Turn Exercising into a social event (i.e. find a Zumba class)
5) Do something out of your comfort zone
6) Start a club or interest group
7) Check the newspaper for local event advertisements
8) Join a trivia team
List of Topics to Talk about when Making New Friends
3) Local Events
4) Work! (often the ice-breaker for many)
5) The Weather (yep, I know it’s bad, but sometimes it works)
6) Hobbies, interests, passions
8) Food (always a good one, and could result in you being invited to a dinner/night out)
9) Bars/clubs in Town
Making Long Lasting Friendships: Example Follow-up
Probably the most important aspect of making new friends. Keith Ferrazi, author of Never Eat Alone, says that a “good follow-up elevates you above 95 percent of your peers”.
He calls it “the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit”.
A good follow-up simply requires a quick email or message that clearly expresses your intent to re-connect/meet again the future.
You can use this as template if you wish;
‘Hey [insert name], it was great meeting you yesterday at [name of event/place]. We should definitely grab a coffee soon and talk more about [topic you discussed]. Does next week work for you?’
Short and sweet. General rule of thumb? Make sure to follow up within 24 hours of meeting someone.
How to Make New Friends When Moving to A City that Speaks a Different Language
When I worked in Switzerland, I quickly discovered English was not spoken much, if at all during social gatherings.
French, German and a local dialect were the most common languages spoken.
Lacking proficiency in a foreign language adds another complex layer to the already difficult situation of trying to make new friends as an adult.
In the beginning, you will find it difficult to participate in conversations, but using some of the tips below, you’ll be well on your way to making new friends in no time.
1) First, Find those Expat Communities
I know you shouldn’t just stick to people who only speak your language, but in the beginning, when you’re all on your own, this can be a life saver.
When you’re not familiar with the local landscape, and don’t speak the lingo, having someone around who does speak your language and is used to the local culture is a god-send.
They can recommend the best bars, coffee shops, and events to attend. They might even be able to suggest where to brush up on your language skills.
They’ll also be able to help with local custom such as taxes, etiquette and even simple things such as figuring out how to use the transport systems.
You’ll be surprised just how different life in other countries can be! Make friends with expats first, and then broaden your circle from there.
2) Take a Conversational Language Class
The key here is conversational. Spending oodles of time glossing over grammar books and endless lists of formal phrases nobody actually uses isn’t going to help you make new friends.
When I worked in Switzerland, I used Rosetta Stone to brush up on French and German. Unlike other linguistic programs, Rosetta Stone actually encourages you to focus on your speaking and listening skills more than reading and writing.
You can also tailor the program to suit your individual needs e.g focus on writing more, but for the purpose of making new friends you’ll want to focus on the speaking elements.
Within 2-3 weeks of using Rosetta Stone, I was able to strike up some decent conversation with locals.
3) Get Involved…and Quickly!
Use it or lose it, that’s what happens when you learn a new language. Start practising the language in work related surroundings first, and make friends with co-workers.
Strike up conversation about their weekend, or what they did during the week, what books they are reading etc.
Understanding how to make friends in a new city needn’t be difficult.
It’s as easy as following a simple three step process; improving your mindset, discovering the right activities and then following-up to create long lasting friendships.