“I recently finished college and just moved to a different city. I don’t know anyone at all! How do you grow a social circle from scratch in a new place?”
Moving can be a great opportunity to meet new people, but the thought of making friends in a new state or in a new country can be intimidating, especially if you are shy or have social anxiety. You might not know where to go to make friends or how to establish a new social circle. In this guide, you’ll learn how to make friends when you move.
Even if you know nobody in your new area, you might know someone who does. They might be able to introduce you to potential friends.
For example, your old college roommate may have a friend in your new city, or your cousin might know someone who lives close to you and works in your field. Let your family and friends know that you’d be grateful for any introductions.
If they send you someone’s contact details, send the person a message via text or on social media. Introduce yourself, tell them who gave you their information, and explain why you are getting in touch.
“Hey Sara, it’s [your name]! My cousin Rachael gave me your number. She says you live in Seattle and love showing people around. I’m moving there in the spring. Would you like to meet up for coffee sometime?”
Sharing accommodation can be more affordable than renting a property by yourself, and it can help you make friends. When you see the same people every day, you’ll probably get to know them over time. You might also meet their other friends, which can grow your social circle even further.
If you are moving to a big city, look for co-living spaces designed for professionals. Some have co-working areas, which are useful if you are self-employed or work remotely. Start by searching on Coliving.com for accommodation in your city.
If you’re living in a new neighborhood, introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Knock on their door or introduce yourself when you see them in their yard or in your street. This can be nerve-wracking, but they will probably appreciate the gesture. Most people want to know who lives next door to them.
- “Hi, my name’s [your name]. I’ve just moved into the house next door, so I thought I should introduce myself.”
- “Hey, I’m [your name]. I moved into the apartment upstairs last week, so I thought I’d stop by and say hi.”
- “Hi, how are you? I’m [your name], your new neighbor, great to meet you.”
If your new neighbors seem friendly and happy to chat, ask them over for a coffee or drink. For example, you could say, “It’s been great to meet you! Would you like to come over for a coffee sometime?”
Introducing yourself and making an effort to socialize will make a good first impression and could be the first step to building a friendship.
You could also check whether there’s a Facebook Group for your area. By joining and getting involved in discussions about local issues, you may be able to strike up a conversation with people who live nearby.
If you’ve moved to a college dorm, leave your door open and say “Hi” to anyone who passes by. Some people will be happy to stop and make small talk, which is a great opportunity to start getting to know your fellow students. When you move to college, it’s natural to be nervous around the other students, but try to remember that they are probably anxious too.
It’s usually easier to make friends with people if you know you have at least one thing in common. Look for groups and classes that are a good fit for your hobbies on Meetup and Eventbrite. Find an ongoing meetup so that you can get to know people over several weeks.
If you’re at college, join several clubs or societies in your first semester. Attend a few meetings and decide which you like best. If you don’t have many interests or pastimes, try taking up a couple of hobbies to make friends.
You may find meetups or events especially for people who have recently moved. They can be a valuable opportunity to practice your social skills. However, these events aren’t generally aren’t a good way to make friends because you won’t necessarily have anything in common with people there aside from the fact that you’re all new in town.
When you’ve had a good conversation with someone and feel as though you’ve clicked, ask to swap contact details.
- “It’s great to talk to someone about fusion cuisine! Can we swap numbers? I’d love to talk more some other time.”
- “I’ve really enjoyed our discussion about desert geography. Let’s swap numbers.”
- “It’s so good to meet someone else who likes 1940’s movies! Let’s keep in touch. Are you on Instagram?”
Follow up within a couple of days. Keep your message short, friendly, and relevant to your shared interest. For example, you could send them a link to an article or short video clip you think they might like and ask their opinion on it.
For more tips on how to build a friendship with someone you recently met, see these guides: How to Make Friends (From “Hi” to Hanging Out) and Ways to Ask People To Hang Out (Without Being Awkward).
Friendship apps are like dating apps, except that users are looking for friends instead of romantic partners. Here are a few to try:
You might also find our list of apps and websites for making friends helpful.
In your profile, describe a few of your interests and who you are looking for. For example, if you love rock climbing, specify that you would like to meet a climbing buddy. When reaching out to another user, it’s a good idea to mention an interest or hobby from their profile.
“Hey, I love the photo of your latest painting you shared on your profile. I paint too. Are there any good art supply stores you can recommend around here? I’m new to town, not sure where the best stores are yet :)” Our article on how to make friends online has detailed advice on how to write a good profile and how to connect with people via websites and apps.
If you’ve recently started a new job, you might be able to make new friends at work. Do your best to appear approachable. Smile, greet your coworkers every morning, and make small talk. Show an interest in their lives and try to be a positive person who makes the office a more enjoyable place to be. Avoid office gossip, offer to help others when you can, and compliment your coworkers when they do well.
For more tips, see our article on how to make friends at work.
If you’re self-employed or own your own business, join your local business network or chamber of commerce. Google your town or area plus “chamber of commerce” to find local organizations and meetups.
If you’re a college student, consider getting a part-time job. Even if you don’t make friends at work, you’ll build skills that look good on your resume, plus you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your social skills. Internships can serve a similar purpose. Ask your student career advisory service for advice on finding an internship.
Hanging out at the same spots in your neighborhood isn’t a surefire way of making friends. But it can help you feel part of the community and can give you a chance to practice making small talk and other social skills such as making eye contact, which in turn can boost your confidence and increase your chances of making friends.
For example, you could:
- Join the local gym and go twice every week
- Find a local cafe or coffee shop you like, and go every Sunday morning
- Find a hobby store nearby that caters to your interests, and drop by whenever you need supplies
- Find a small family-run grocery store and make it your default option if you need a couple of things and can’t get to a large chain
If you’ve moved to a new country and want to become more confident speaking in another language, finding language exchange partners can help you improve your skills and meet new people at the same time. You can search for a local partner on Tandem or Conversation Exchange.
Not all events and groups are advertised online. Some are only posted on local bulletin boards, for example, in cafes, in the windows of grocery stores, in libraries, and outside community centers. Check flyers around town for interesting events and meetups.
If your lifestyle allows it, adopt a dog. Research shows that owning a pet can help grow your social network. For example, if you visit the local dog park several times each week, it’s likely you’ll start running into the other regulars. If you meet someone you click with, you could suggest meeting up one day and walking together.
If you’ve moved to a small town or rural part of the country and there aren’t many groups you can join, getting involved with the local council can be a good way of meeting people in the community. Go to a few meetings; they are often open to the public. Google “[your area]” and “board,” “committee,” or “council.” If you feel strongly about a local issue, you can raise it at a council meeting and perhaps work with other like-minded people to find a new solution.
Volunteering can be a good way to meet like-minded people and help you feel more connected to your new community. For example, you could volunteer at a residential home for older adults or at a food bank. Look for volunteer groups on Meetup, or search for opportunities at VolunteerMatch.
You could also join a values-driven organization such as a political party or activist group. This will give you an opportunity to meet people who hold similar views, and you can bond over a common cause.
You don’t need to be especially skilled or athletic to join a recreational league. Many people sign up for socializing opportunities, not just the chance to take part in a sport. Google “[your location] + recreational sport” or “[your location] + adults sports league.”
If you’re at college, look on the college website for information about intramural sports teams and leagues.
When you’ve made a couple of friends, you can expand your social circle by encouraging them to bring their other friends along when you hang out.
- “I’m really looking forward to our cookout on Saturday. Feel free to bring a couple of friends along!”
- “I think you mentioned that you went to the museum with a couple of friends a while ago. Do you think they’d like to come with us when we go this week?”
Don’t ask your friends to bring someone else every time you meet up, or they will think you’re only interested in meeting as many new people as possible.
If you’ve moved to a new country, you could join an expat group either in-person or online on Expat Forum. You may not have anything in common with them aside from your shared experience of living in a foreign country, but it can be reassuring to be part of an expat community. Other expats can also be a valuable source of practical advice on how to adapt to the local culture.
As you start to meet more people, you might start receiving invitations to hang out. Unless there’s a very good reason why you can’t go, say “Yes” to every social invitation. If you have to decline the offer, suggest meeting up another time.
Even if you don’t think the person who invited you will become a close friend, you’ll get to practice socializing and maybe try a new activity. If it’s a group gathering, you might meet someone you like.
To make friends in a new city, you’ll need to take the initiative. Find groups, classes, and meetups that align with your interests. When you meet someone you like, suggest hanging out and bonding over a shared activity. For example, if you met in a drawing class, invite them to see an exhibition.