The Newcomer: Tips On How to Make New Friends in a New City

Moving sucks, but after the stress of packing and unpacking is over, you’ll be looking to kick back and hang with some friends.  Problem is, when you’ve just moved to a brand new city or state, you don’t have any friends yet!

Take it from someone who has moved to a brand new place without knowing a sole 4 times in their adult life:  You can be the most outgoing person in the world, but it still doesn’t mean that you’ll make new friends right away or even semi-right away.

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Keep in mind that by sharing this information, it isn’t meant to discourage you from moving to somewhere new; quite the contrary! I am a firm believer that following your heart, your gut instinct or a dream job to a new city can be a very rewarding experience and one of the best things in life that you can do for yourself.  Rather, in sharing this first-hand information, I hope to help others that are taking that big leap to a brand new place know in advance what to expect, what is totally normally and even give some clue as to how to meet new people and make new friends.

It will take time.

As mentioned above, you can be the most outgoing person in the world, but meeting new people and making new friends will take some time!  Don’t expect to find people to hang out with “on the reg” within at least the first 3 months of your move.  That said…

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Don’t get “thirsty”.

Just because you hate going out for a bite to eat or to the movies alone doesn’t mean that you should become desperate, or “thirsty”, as far as making new friends is concerned.

For instance, if you normally have a policy against hanging out socially with your coworkers, don’t make an exception just because you’re in a new city.  If you have always been a private person that chooses not to get too socially involved with your neighbors, don’t start crashing the girl in 3B’s parties just because she said “Hi” one time at the mailboxes.

Meeting new people and making new friends takes time so you’d better get comfortable with doing some things on your own, at least for a while.

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You are the newcomer, therefore you are at their mercy.

The above may sound a bit dark and ominous, but it is true.  When you move to a new area and don’t know anyone, you are seeking the acceptance of others, not the other way around.  While you may have been a social butterfly in your old city, no one knows you in this new one and more importantly, they may not want to.

“But why? I’m fantastic!” you may say to yourself.  Truth be told, unless you have some super horrible personality flaw, it has nothing to do with you.  People who are established in your new city may already be having a tough time juggling responsibilities and existing social obligations; in short, they may just not have the time or energy for a new friend, regardless of how fantastic you are.  Add on a significant other, a demanding job and/or children and they will have even less time for new friends.

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I met many new people that I became fast Facebook friends with, only to never once have them accept an invitation to hang out again. There were many text messages sent back and forth asking how each others days were and saying that we should meet up soon, only they were always too busy.  Eventually, I realized that I was the only one asking to hang out and they were constantly not accepting, so I stopped asking.

Yes, it hurt my feelings and yes, I felt discouraged, but it wasn’t personal and it would have been narcissistic of me to assume so.

I will admit to recently making a new friend that is already well established in my new city through a mutual acquaintance that “set us up” via Facebook message, however, while there are always exceptions to every rule, chances are greater that your future friends are those who are also new to the city, not people that are already well established there.  More on this later!

Meeting new people does not equate making new friends.  

Much like with dating, making new friends can be a timely, and at times, disappointing process.  This is just a reality of both.

Thinking that you have made a new friend simply because you have hung out with someone a handful of times is like saying that you have a boyfriend or girlfriend just because you have gone on more than one date with someone.  Trust me, I would know.

For instance, there was someone that I met in a new city that I hung out with on multiple occasions.  The problem was that they never seemed to want to hang out one-on-one, but instead always insisted that we “go out”.  The more we went out, the more I noticed that their goal was more to chat up guys than to get to know each other.  They weren’t looking for a real friend, rather, they were looking more for a “wing woman”.

There have also been numerous occasions when I have met someone new that seemed nice, however, we ran out of things to talk about after hanging out for more than half an hour at a time because we just didn’t have enough in common.

Personally, I would rather hang out by myself or continue the search for friends instead of continuing to hang out with someone that I didn’t have anything in common with or who seemed to be using me as a reason for going out to meet guys.

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Keep in mind that while in today’s society many of us loosely use the term “friend” to describe anyone that we have ever met and not had a bad experience with, a real friend is so much more.  A real friend is someone that you share a common bond or emotional connection with. While you may “click” with someone, you really won’t know each other very well without time and some shared experiences.  Be open to meeting new people and open to new friendships until you truly feel as if you have developed a solid group of real friends.

Meeting Other Newcomers

As mentioned above, when you are brand new to a city, you will have a higher chance of making new friends by meeting others that are also brand new to the city.

So how do you find others that are also new to the city? Here are 2 of the most reliable sources that I have found across-the-board regardless of the brand new city or state that I moved to.

  • Social Sports

    Not athletic? Not a problem! The point of playing in an adult social sports league isn’t normally to conquer all of the other teams, it’s to meet new people and make new friends in a laid back environment.  Ages tend to range from the mid 20’s to the late 30’s although it will vary depending on where you are and the league.kick

    Social sports include dodgeball, kickball, volleyball, soft ball, soccer, hockey and more.  You can find a league in your new city by simply googling “social sports” + the name of your city.  Most leagues will require a commitment of at least a month and fee’s need to be paid, but it is almost always worth it!  In addition to playing sports, most leagues will also have a bar designated for post-game drinks and socializing.

    Even if you aren’t athletic in the slightest, the most important things are to show up and to try.  Teams that are super fun and friendly will still feel frustrated by people who don’t show up to games or seem to care.

  • Join Meetup.com

    The ultimate in free new-friend making websites, Meetup.com is  a great jumping off point for meeting new people!  While you do need to sign up, you are not charged for searching or joining “groups”.Simply search for a group based on your interests and proximity to your location.  Then, you’ll be provided with a list of results.  You can join these groups and sign up for various upcoming “meet up” activities such as a coffee and museum visit meet up, book clubs and happy hours.  Some groups are fairly generic, such as “People Who Love to Read”, while others are very specific as to their members such as “Females Looking for Platonic Female Friends 25-35 years old”.

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    Do yourself a favor and only join meetups that you think that you would enjoy.  By this, I mean don’t join meetup groups that are very specific and that only partially fit you.  For example, there may be a meetup group called “Night running for professionals in their 20s” and while you are a professional and you love running, you are in your 40’s.  Or, perhaps there is a group called “Yoga for Females only”; you wouldn’t want to be the creepy guy who joins a group that is specifically for females only.

    Groups that are specific are specific for a reason; the people that join them want to have all of those things in common with the other members.  It’s nothing personal, just a preference that you should respect.

    Also, be sure to give Meetup a good shot, try several meet ups hosted by several different groups before deciding if it is for you or not as experiences and the types of people that you will meet will definitly vary between them.