A few months ago, I was preparing for a cross-country move. And while overly excited to move back to Colorado from New York City, there was one slight twinge of worry that I couldn’t quite shake. How was I going to make a new group of friends yet again? I kept asking myself.
It took me nearly three years into living in New York to create a small, intimate group of girlfriends – a few I worked with, others I drank with, some I met through shared interests and talked life goals, family dynamics, and the deep stuff with. The thought of having to re-do that entire process all over again made me sad, quite frankly. Couldn’t my friends move with me?! If only…
What I realized in those sad moments was that having people that I can spend quality time with, confide in, and depend on are some of the most comforting and enjoyable feelings in the world to me. So instead of letting the feelings of overwhelm and anxiety about moving and having to restart my friend circle from scratch take over, I decided to be proactive and take charge of my relationship-building. I’m a few months into my new life in Colorado, and I have to say, it has felt like a much easier time finding friends this time around.
Here are five tips that I did in order to start meeting new people and make friends in a new city:
Ask your friends, colleagues, and family members for connections
You never know who other people know until you ask them! When I announced that I was moving to my network, I also asked them for connections. I said something like, “Know anyone in Denver in the entrepreneurial community or someone who’s a local that would enjoy connecting with a transplant? Would love to be put in touch with them!” My neighbor actually put me in touch with her 70+ year old aunt, and my boyfriend and I went and enjoyed a lovely dinner with her and her husband within the first few weeks of moving. They even gave us a book all about things to do outdoors in Colorado! We’re still in touch, and it feels like I have a great aunt nearby, which is totally comforting.
Join Facebook and Meetup groups that spark your interest
You can join a bazillion online groups with the intent to meet people, but what I have found is that you have to find the groups that speak to who you are and your interests in order to engage and want to be a part of the community. Start slow by joining 1-2 online groups (bonus points if the groups have a different focus – will help you meet more people!) and have a goal to post or comment on other people’s posts once a week or once a day, and share who you are and your story there.
If you’re unfamiliar with Facebook groups, here’s how to find them:
Navigate to Facebook. On the side toolbar you’ll see an “explore” section. There, you’ll find a button named “groups”. Click on that button. Then you’ll see various categories like arts & entertainment, faith & spirituality, business, interests, etc. Make sure to type in your new city’s name when looking for online groups for meeting locals!
Meetup has a feature where you can search for specific terms and also enter the city and how many miles from the city you’d like Meetup to search. I recently went to a clothing swap with the Meetup group I joined; about 10 other ladies came. We each brought a side dish/snack, and I got to know a few of the ladies pretty well in only 2.5 hours. I will definitely be staying engaged in that group!
Meet your neighbors
I can’t tell you how many times I have been saved from going to the store for one missing ingredient and invited over to grill because I took the initiative to walk over, knock on the door, and introduce myself to my neighbors. It can be as simple as, “Hi, my name is _____, and I’m new in the building/neighborhood. I thought I’d come over and say hello. What’s your name?” and have a brief conversation with them, ask how long have they lived there, what nearby restaurants do they enjoy, what are their hobbies? Taking five minutes to chat can truly build a lot of “neighbor equity”, I like to call it.
Another useful online resource for getting to know your neighborhood and potentially meeting neighbors is NextDoor. I once found a workout buddy through a posting on there, and recently, I went to a monthly potluck dinner get together for ladies in my neighborhood, and I met two of the funniest girls that I now hang out with on the regular.
Give back and meet people, too? Yes! Determine a cause that you’d like to volunteer for –– animal welfare, women and children’s rights, the environment –– whatever piques your interest. VolunteerMatch is a fantastic resource for finding volunteer opportunities in your community based off of a variety of causes. If you volunteer regularly, chances are you’ll meet other volunteers who have similar interests as you who may end up being a part of your tribe in your new city. Also, who doesn’t feel good after giving some of your time to make a positive impact in your community?!
Stick to a consistent routine
This last one might seem a bit different than the others, but hear me out. When you’re in a new place, your entire routine gets thrown off because you have to start over. A 2011 study led by psychologist Harry Reis, PhD, at the University of Rochester, found that familiarity breeds attraction. By sticking to a routine like going to the gym at the same time, regularly visiting a local coffee shop can turn strangers into friends (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2011).
All of these tips have one thing in common – YOU are in control. These aren’t all or nothing tips – try one tip at a time and see how it works out for you. You’ll find your tribe in no time and all the stress and worry about meeting new friends will be a distant memory.
Have other tips for meeting friends in a new city? Share with us below!