How to Make Friends when you Move to a New Location

I caught the travel bug early in life, thanks to a family spread out around the world, and parents who were always on the move. I moved around so often that until high school, I never spent more than 2 years at any school.

One of the most difficult problems for both children and adults in this situation, is leaving their connections behind and forming new ones. Some people adjust easily, make new friends, and never look back. Others have a tough time adjusting, and may never truly settle into their new homes.

If you’re one of the latter, and have moved or expect to move soon, here’s how to shake things up and make great new friends in your new location.

Tinder

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The absolute worst thing you can do shortly after moving is to become sucked into a new relationship. Your partner will inevitably have friends and hobbies to keep them occupied, while for a time, your social life will revolve around them. This creates an unfavourable scenario for both parties involved.

So why suggest Tinder? Because contrary to what pop culture and the media says, Tinder is exactly what it calls itself – a social media app. There are many people on Tinder who are new to the area, just like you, and looking to meet people they can hang out with. Nothing more. 

I met my best friend in Atlanta on Tinder. We have never had a romantic or physical relationship. In fact, while living in Jamaica, the expats I met were the very people who convinced me to quit my job, live a more minimalist lifestyle, grab life by the horns, and take a chance.

In short, I wouldn’t be where I am now, if it wasn’t for my Tinder matches. I still keep in touch with many of them, as they continue their adventures around the world.

Be sure to put in your profile that you’re only there for friends. State the kind of people you’d like to meet, what interests you expect to have in common, and save the more revealing pictures for when your intentions change.

Meetup

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To skip the grey line between dating app and social media, there’s Meetup. This is a great way to join groups that share common interests, and enjoy fun activities together. This could range anywhere from kayaking to international trips to wine tasting.

Like Tinder, Meetup is an app you can install on your phone. However, unlike Tinder, you can also use the web version. You simply join groups, RSVP to their events, show up, and meet people. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re en entrepreneur and moving homes also meant moving your business, this is a great way to meet people in your line of work, or who may need your services. Especially in more developed areas, there’s a group for just about everything.

Though Meetup is not a dating app, remember you’re still meeting strangers from the internet, so exercise the same caution. Always let a family member or friend know where you’re headed off to, and beware of handing out any personal information.

Some meet-ups occasionally only have a handful of people turn up, or one, or none at all. So prepare for a potentially more intimate meeting than you originally planned for, even if the group size was 200 and 50 people promised to show.

Uber & Lfyt

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Whether you’re the driver or the passenger, ridesharing is a great way to meet new people in a new area.

On trains and buses, people tend to maintain more personal space. We put our earphones in, even when we’re not listening to a damn thing. We focus our attention on our phone screens or what’s going on outside the window, and hope no one ever sits beside us.

Ridesharing in Uber and Lyft is a lot more personal and casual experience. The drivers are usually very friendly, and will be happy to entertain you. In fact, many rideshare drivers have told me that what they love most about their job is meeting new people.

My Junior Editor, Tristan O’Bryan, does ridesharing in his free time and has had his fair share of adventures along the way.

Head for the Mothership

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The best way to meet people you will have things in common with, is to meet them in their element. Invariably, foodies will be at restaurants; party girls at the club; fitness junkies at the gym; music lovers at concerts and festivals; and hikers on the trails.

Often, when we meet people in more neutral settings, they may lie about their interests because they are so focused on being liked.

The problem comes in when you think you’ve found a great hiking buddy and they show up in a polo shirt and their good shoes, and spend the entire time complaining about the heat and the bugs…

In short, the best way to find the people you will almost always share common interests with is to head straight for the Mothership.

Go Out Alone

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One thing I love to do that has baffled my family and friends for years is going out alone. Just yesterday one of my friends said,

“How do you do it? I wish I could take a page out of your book. I just hate the idea of being out alone.”

So what do I do alone? I will show up at a restaurant in the city with candle lit tables, and enjoy a meal by myself. My company is a good book. Do I feel awkward? Nope. Other outings I enjoy taking by myself include hiking, the movies, the gym, and even trips out of state.

And you know what happens every time? I always end up being approached by other people. Over the years, I’ve learned that people are less likely to approach you when you’re with your pack. So if you want to meet new people, ditch the gang. Alone, people are more likely to gravitate towards you.

If you’re a female, take care with this tactic. A female by herself may attract not just potential friends, but predators, as well. As in all other instances, be careful about the kind of information you disclose until you get to know them better.

Be Social

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As I mentioned earlier in the article, the bravery I have now, I absorbed from the countless adventurers I met while living my formerly safe and routine life in Jamaica. Back then, I felt a need to overthink and over-calculate every risk and then would end up never taking any.

Now, I live by the mantra:

Success is for the bold.

That said, if you see someone who looks like the kind of person you would like to have in your social circle, approach them when you get the chance.

I pet almost every dog I run into on the trails, have a quick chat with their owners, and then move on. Once or twice, I’ve had a chat that was so interesting, we exchanged numbers and hung out some other time.

Similarly, if you’re sitting at the table next to me and butt into my conversation (which happens almost every time I go out), I’ll let you. Before long, I have three tables in the mix. If I see you reading a book, and it’s one I read and love, I might ask you about it.

Why? The better question is, why not?

Life is full of nos, but opportunities come to the people who seek them out.

Have you ever moved across town, to a new state, or a whole new country? How did you adjust, and how did you make new friends?

Alexis Chateau Black Cat

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47 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for your article Alexis. I’ve recently (well, it’s now close to a year but it still feels recent) moved from Zimbabwe to Namibia and I’ve found making friends incredibly difficult. There are a lot of culture and language barriers and I’ve observed that generally the older people get the less inclined they are to get out of their comfort zones in order to make new friends. I’m not an extrovert and it doesn’t help that I’m currently unemployed so my social circles are pretty much non-existent at the moment. However, I do enjoy going out alone. I’ll try some of your tips and see how it goes.

    Like

  2. galeweithers says:

    My favourite thought: “Head for the Mothership”! Great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. doriankgray says:

    Great advice for travelling alone. I honestly enjoy “me time” trips better than those with family or friends because I get to experience more. But I take every precaution possible

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was really for relocating somewhere else, but you’re right. It can be useful for traveling alone as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. FanTC says:

    I must ask: why the spider? Whyyyyyyyyyy?

    These days I’m cheering the fact that my friends keep moving away, and I’m in no way attempting to replace them. Am I a bad person? ;-P

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, it was my art logo when I was a teen. Since this blog was partially used for business (freelancing), I didn’t use it here. But now with the firm launched separately and having its own website this is fully my personal blog, so I brought the spider back. 🙂

      Oh wow. Are they bad people?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. FanTC says:

        Very neat. But it gave me panic attacks at first. ;-P

        No. They’re awesome. But lately my work live(s) have been so inundated with catering to the public, I want nothing more than peace and quiet. And solitude.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha. Fear of spiders?

        I can understand that. I don’t spend much time out with friends anymore. I went to Warped Tour yesterday and I went by myself.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. FanTC says:

        There’s a Renaissance festival during the summer, and i love nothing more than dressing up and going by myself. It’s like I’m in my own little world – and they really do know me there! =D

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s amazing. I’ve only been to one of those, but I brought company.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing my post ☺

      Like

  5. Esther Hecht says:

    Thanks, Alexis, for stopping by my site. We’re of different generations, but your advice for meeting people sounds valid. When I travel alone and am open to meeting people it does happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Esther. Do you feel safe when traveling alone, as a woman? My solo trips usually also involve meeting up with people I know, but I’m traveling completely solo this fall and I’ve been getting a lot of warnings haha. Thoughts?

      Glad you found my post useful, and could relate!

      Like

  6. shetraces says:

    I am in this situation at the moment as well. I figured if I stop being afraid of doing things alone, I could very well meet people while out and about doing things I enjoy. I’ve also signed up for Meetup.com but some groups have fees for membership and events which may not be appealing especially when you’re on a budget due to the moving costs. I think finding a “FREE in (insert city)” website would also be another great idea especially since there are lots of free events in the summer and weekend to get into.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll definitely meet great people if you lose the fear of going out alone. But more importantly, you get to do the amazing things you want, whether you have company or not.

      I’m going to a Meetup tomorrow. It will be my 3rd one. I’ve never joined any groups or events that required payment. Could it be the kind of meet-up you’re interested in?

      Like

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