Making new friends comes very easily to some people. They can walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation just like that. But for others, it takes a bit more effort.
Moving to a new city can make it even more challenging to form new bonds. At least in your old city, you knew a few people and could use their connections.
Whether you’re an introvert or just someone who could use some tips on making friends in a new environment, this guide is for you.
We’ll discuss why it’s so difficult to make friends in a new city, as well as some of the factors that can make it easier. We’ll then talk about specific actions you can take to blend in and integrate into your new society. By the time you’re done with this post, you’ll have all the tools you need to make friends.
Why Is It So Hard to Make Friends in a New City?
You’re not the only one who finds it difficult to make friends in a new city. That’s because there are some pretty common factors that make it tough to connect with new people. Let’s look at some of the reasons why making friends in a new location may be difficult.
You Don’t Know Many People
You may be thinking, “Duh, if I knew people, I wouldn’t be trying to make new friends.” But think about it: the more people you know, the easier it is to make new friends. That’s because you can easily piggyback off your current connections and get introduced to new people, or at least bond over a mutual friendship.
When you don’t know anyone, you’re basically starting your connections from ground zero. Since you have no common links, you’ll have to create conversations about mundane things like the weather or the news, and that can be quite cringey for some people.
It’s even worse if you’re an introvert because your natural instinct is to stay on your own. You’re much less likely to start those mundane conversations, and before you know it, months have passed and you still don’t know anyone.
You’re Still Adjusting to the Culture
Culture is one of the reasons why moving to a new city is so jarring. Many places have a life of their own, and the people can act a little differently there. It may manifest as a widespread love for food or a generalized mannerism.
That’s why most people can immediately spot an outsider. Even if you have the same accents and clothes, you see life a little differently, so you might stick out like a sore thumb.
It’s funny because even though you’re an outsider, many individuals will be very open to talking with you. But because you don’t feel like you belong, you’re not as open to forming these new bonds.
You Don’t Know the Hotspots
Where is the best place to grab a pizza? What’s the hottest club on a Friday night? Odds are that when you’re in a new city, you won’t know the answers to any of these questions. As a result, you don’t know where to go to make new friends and hang out with people.
Hotspots are key to making new friends because you get to meet people outside of your network. Over time, you discover other things you have in common as the relationship flourishes. If you don’t know where the hotspots are, you can’t make these new connections. Even worse, you don’t have friends that can show you these spots.
4 Personal Reasons You Might Not Be Making Friends
If you’re having a hard time making friends, it may not just be the new city. Sometimes, we give off certain unconscious signals that can repel people. Understanding these signals will help you become more approachable and make it much easier for you to make friends.
You Aren’t Patient Enough
If you take a long, hard look at your best friendships, you’ll realize that they took time to blossom. If you’ve known someone since you were a child, you may not fully grasp how long it took your friendship to cement. Every second you spent on the playground or walking home together added up.
As an adult, you’ll need to take these steps consciously. You have to be actively involved, show up, and engage in activities with them. All the while, you’ll have to make small talk and slowly build the relationship. It can’t be rushed.
Granted, spending time with people like that can be quite frustrating, especially if you’ve been at it for a while. But, like many other things in life, there’s no rushing it. You just have to give it time and allow the friendship to blossom.
You Don’t Look Approachable
This can be a very tricky point because you often don’t know how approachable you are. Your current friends won’t be able to help you either because they know you, and you’re approachable to them.
If you’re not approachable, you’ll scare people off from trying to know you. Even extroverts who are used to making the first move won’t be as willing to interact with you.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to know if you’re unapproachable, because the people who see it don’t want to talk with you. One way to get around it is to just walk up to a new friend and ask if they thought you were unapproachable initially.
Since they are your friend, they’ll be willing to tell you. Since they are new, they have a unique perspective on how other people view you.
You’re Not Trying New Activities
Sometimes, you have to step out of your comfort zone to meet new, different people. It only makes sense since you’ll already know everyone in your current space. If you’re in a new city, then you probably don’t know anyone at all, so avoiding new activities is the worst thing you can do.
The key here, however, is to not try too hard to become someone new. You want to try new activities as yourself so your new connections know who you are right away. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy these activities, try them anyway.
You’ll be surprised at how relatable you’ll be when you show how uncomfortable the new activities make you. Most people are nervous when trying new things, so showing that can make you seem approachable and attracts like-minded people to you.
You Don’t Know How to Be a Friend
Friendship is a give and take, and many people aren’t willing to develop friendships that won’t benefit them. Being a friend can require a lot of sacrifices. You need to be selfless and show up for your friends.
It’s important to show traits like these early on in the relationship so the people around you know you’re dependable. Some of the traits you can show in this regard include offering support when they’re struggling or knowing how to back them up in a conflict.
It’s a bit of a balance because you also have to receive the same treatment from your friends. The last thing you need is to enter a one-way relationship where you’re offering support, but not getting anything in return.
How to Make Friends in a New City
Now you know what makes it difficult to make friends, and you know the reasons why you may not be attracting the right people. Let’s jump into important tips you can use to actually make friends, even if you move to another planet!
Get a Dog
It might seem odd, but man’s best friend is your door to making new friends. If you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ll know that they are great conversation starters. You immediately belong to a group of dog owners, so you’ll already have that to talk about.
More importantly, you can easily make conversation when you walk your dog. You run into other dog owners and catch up while your dogs perform their “handshake.” You also have at least one reason to go to the park, so you’ll visit new places more frequently.
If you want to take it further, you can use online apps like Dig to find other dog owners in your area. The great thing about this strategy is the shared sense of community that makes it so much easier to segue into other things to help you make life-long friendships.
Throw a Housewarming Party
A housewarming party is a fantastic way to announce your presence. It’s a win-win because you immediately tell everyone in your area that you’re a new neighbor, and that you’re happy to socialize. It’s also great for everyone around, because who doesn’t love a party?
When many people think of parties, they think of lavish affairs with lots of food and drink. That doesn’t have to be your case, however. You can throw a small get-together with a few drinks and some snacks. The main goal is to get people to come, meet you, and, hopefully, recognize you when you walk down the street.
Housewarmings are also a great way to rapidly get to know new people. Since you’re the center of attention, everyone will try to introduce themselves. You’ll just have to remember as many names as possible!
There are many ways to look at throwing housewarmings. Some people prefer to wait until they are fully settled to throw a party, while other people invite guests as quickly as possible. Find the approach that works best for you.
Earlier, we mentioned the power of hotspots. In this case, we’re referring to popular restaurants, night clubs, or food trucks. Basically, find anywhere that’s wildly popular in the area. Spending time in these places can do two things for you.
First, it helps you meet new people that you wouldn’t meet otherwise. These hotspots attract individuals from all walks of life, so you really get to pick your new contacts. Second, hotspots also give you something to talk about when you meet someone new.
Finding topics for small talk is one of the hardest parts of making new friends. That won’t be a problem for you because you can just talk about your experience at the popular spot. The chances are that whoever you’re talking to either visits often, or knows someone who does.
Hang Out with Coworkers
It’s easy to feel like you’re all on your own in a new city, but that’s rarely the case. Most people know at least one person in that new space. If you’re lucky, you work in an office alongside an eclectic collection of coworkers. It’s a great idea to start making friends from there.
Making work buddies is also quite easy because you already have a few things in common. You’re in a similar line of work, and you can talk about everything from how crazy work is to how annoying your boss can get. You also don’t have to worry so much about communication because you see them pretty much every day.
Some companies make this process easier for you by organizing extracurricular activities like happy hour, company sports, and even pizza Fridays. These allow everyone to let their hair down, and become more open to making conversation.
Be a Good Neighbor
Besides throwing a housewarming party, you can befriend neighbors in a new city by simply being nice to them. It doesn’t take a lot to be kind either. A warm smile here, a hand with the groceries there, and walking the dog sometimes are all examples.
These gestures go a long way because people care about you when you care about them. More importantly, they see you as approachable and kind.
It’s also great practice for being a good friend because, at the end of the day, you’ll have to show up for your friends and make sacrifices for them in the same way.
Use Social Media
We often complain about how distracted from reality social media has made us. People are now more interested in talking with individuals they’ve never met, instead of those right in front of them. But, ironically, social media can also help you make many physical friends.
Use local Facebook groups and Reddit communities to find people in your area. You’ll have an instant connection because there’s at least one thing you can talk about – the online space. If you’re not a fan of Facebook or Reddit, you can also use apps like Meetup to find people in your area and link up with them.
Social media can also be invaluable when you’re in a new city because you stay connected with your old friends. Moving can be very lonely so it’s great to be able to still chat with your friends even if you no longer live with them.
Link Up with Mutual Friends
Many people like to reach out to some of their closest friends when they first move to a new city. It’s a great idea for getting recommendations on where you should live and nice people to meet. You can also ask old buddies like a college friend. There’s no shame in asking for these recommendations either because everyone has been in that place where they need to make new friends.
You can also make a Facebook post asking for recommendations. This works better if your Facebook friends are in your actual social circle because they can refer you to people that match your personality. Hopefully, you can get a few contacts from that, and grab a glass of wine with your new contacts.
Even though it’s quite random, you can also connect with friends of friends on Facebook and chat with them. If you see that they are in your city, the chances are that they are happy to connect with you, and would love to meet up.
Sign Up for Local Classes
Signing up for a local class has double value. First, it helps you learn a new skill, whether it’s woodworking, pottery, or photography. You also get to meet like-minded friends
Many of these new connections will also have very useful information for you. They may know about job opportunities, master classes, and other things that could potentially change your life.
Finally, a local class is a perfect way to integrate into a new culture. This is perfect if you’re having a hard time fitting into communities around you. You will interact with people regularly and pick up vital information.
Join a Gym
Many people sign up to a gym just to talk anyway, so why not use that to your advantage? Gym subscriptions are relatively cheap, and they give you a ton of value, from access to equipment to exposure to new people. Like other similar spaces, you already have a few things to talk about – how tough it is to get in shape, for example.
You could also sign up for workout classes where you can really spend time with other people in the gym. Just make sure that you don’t spend your entire gym time talking. Instead, put in some work while also making connections. Here’s something to motivate you: when you do get in shape, you’ll be that more attractive!
Volunteer with a Non-Profit
Can you imagine making a new friend while volunteering with a non-profit? Helping out at an NGO is a great way to give back to the community. As a bonus, you also integrate into the community in a unique way.
You can also rest confidently in the fact that everyone you meet while volunteering has a good heart. They care enough to volunteer their time and help other people out.
There are many ways to volunteer in your new community. The easiest path to volunteering is to find a non-profit that works in an area you’re passionate about. If you love animals, consider volunteering at an animal shelter. You can also use Volunteermatch.org to find opportunities in your area.
How Not to Make Friends in a New City
As you can see, making friends is quite tricky. There are a hundred and one things that could hold you back from forming those quality connections, but, hopefully, you have enough tips to navigate them now.
Before you go, we’d like to share some final tips. These are the things to avoid when you’re trying to make new friends.
Being Afraid to Show Yourself
As unbelievable as it sounds, most people think they are weird in one way or another – it’s part of what makes us special. If you get too much into your own head, you’ll start believing that no one wants to be friends with a weirdo like yourself. That’s not true.
If anything, people want to connect with other “weirdos” to feel more normal. Don’t be afraid to show who you really are when making new friends. That way, you can be sure they like you for you, and not because of the façade you put up.
Not Defining What You Want
The world is full of different people, and not everyone will share your unique perspectives and passions. It’s important to be clear on the kind of friends you’re looking for because it makes your search so much easier.
If you’re the life of the party, you may want friends who can turn up with you. Conversely, you may also be looking for people who are more reserved so they can keep you anchored. It’s worth it to take some time to ask yourself what you really want out of your relationships. That way, you can know it when you see it.
Trying Too Hard
Forming new friends is a little like dating. If you come on too strong, you’ll spook your date and they’ll run the other way. As much as people are keen to make friends, they are also wary and protective of their lives.
It helps to take the same approach when making new friends. You have to show that you’re interested in forming a bond without smothering them. It’s a bit of a tightrope, but you’ll eventually learn to navigate it.
The Bottom Line
If you find yourself in a new city surrounded by new people, your first instinct may be to hide, but making new friends doesn’t have to be that difficult.
Use these tips to navigate your new environment and find like-minded people to connect with. You’ll feel at home before you know it.