How to Make Friends in a New City

by Jeremy Anderberg on April 17, 2013 · 52 comments

in Friendship, Relationships & Family

friends

Every year, roughly 15% of the population of America relocates. If we expand that to a five-year period, that number balloons to 40%. Most moves are within about 50 miles, but one-fifth of those relocaters change states.

My wife (Jane) and I moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Denver, Colorado about 10 months ago. We are just now starting to find our groove socially. I don’t have hard evidence, but I know anecdotally from speaking with a variety of people that it takes roughly that amount of time in a new place to truly find your bearings and start to build a new circle of friends. That may seem like a short amount of time in the long run, and it is, but in the moment it can feel quite lonely.

In this article, I set out to not only give you some ideas on how to make friends in a new place, but also to talk about the factors that lead to friendship and also some hindrances that can make finding new friends difficult once you leave college.

The Three Keys to Fostering Friendship

Beginning in the 1950s, sociologists began to delve into friendship theory. They came to the idea that true friendship relies heavily on three main conditions. Some people nowadays are beginning to refute this theory as our world grows evermore digital, but I believe they remain as true today as they were 60 years ago.

Proximity: Being physically close to people for extended periods of time naturally lends itself to friendship. Again, some people try to refute this as not as necessary in today’s world. However, think about your high school or college friends once you moved away. It got much harder to truly stay in touch, and you likely drifted from most of them. Yes, you can see what they’re up to on Facebook, but if you don’t correspond regularly are you really friends?

Repeated & Unplanned Interactions: This means bumping into Jake at the local coffee shop in the morning, or catching up with Will and his wife at church on a Sunday morning. These aren’t planned get-togethers; these are times when your paths cross randomly throughout town. Obviously, this is much trickier post-college. You can help this, though, by choosing to do your shopping, dining, exercise, etc. within your neighborhood. This increases the chances of running into people over and over again, and perhaps making new friends.

A Setting That Encourages Vulnerability: Vulnerability here means people being able to let their guard down and truly be who they are. When you first meet people, no matter the environment, they tend to be cautious. They won’t let their sense of humor show, they won’t talk too much about their personal lives, etc. People are more likely to open up when you have a small backyard BBQ versus just meeting up at your local trivia night every week. It’s in smaller and more personal settings that friendship grows.

Why Making Friends After College Is Harder

We don’t know how to do it. In school, no matter the level, the three keys listed above come naturally to the environment. You’re around roughly the same people, nearly 24/7, for 4+ years. Once we’re out and we’ve moved away, we realize we don’t really know how to be intentional about creating those environments that lend themselves to friendship. We have to learn that it takes action to get out of the house and meet people. We also have to learn how to make plans and follow through, as those unplanned interactions from college will occur less and less. Those are things that won’t necessarily come naturally, because they haven’t had to.

Priorities change. Humans use friendship to fill certain emotional needs. A great New York Times article puts it like this:

“People have an internal alarm clock that goes off at big life events, like turning 30. It reminds them that time horizons are shrinking, so it is a point to pull back on exploration and concentrate on the here and now. ‘You tend to focus on what is most emotionally important to you,’ she [Laura Carstensen, Stanford Center on Longevity] said, ‘so you’re not interested in going to that cocktail party, you’re interested in spending time with your kids.’”

If you can get emotional fulfillment from your family, you won’t look for it as much elsewhere. So there comes a point where we stop even trying to make friends and end up thinking we can be content interacting only with the people in our household. This happened with me and Jane for a little while, but we realized we didn’t want to be hermits. There comes a time when you’ll crave some sort of social interaction beyond your spouse and kids.

Being a couple makes it more complex. As people “couple up,” the challenge of making real friends increases. Not only do you have to like someone, but, ideally, so does your spouse. If you’re making friends with another couple, the difficulty is magnified even more. Does each person like each member of the other couple? At times, you’ll likely have to compromise a little bit.

Having children makes it more complex. Children not only take away some of that previous social time you once had, it can create uncomfortable and forced friendships. If the kids get along, the parents can feel like they have to get along too. As comedian Louis C.K. riffed: “I spend whole days with people, I’m like, I never would have hung out with you, I didn’t choose you. Our children chose each other. Based on no criteria, by the way. They’re the same size.”

We become pickier. With less time and emotional need for friends, we may start to set the bar incredibly high as to whether someone is worth trying to get to know better or not. We expect to share a whole lot in common with them, and want the kind of deep connection we had with friends in our younger years. But what’s interesting is that if you look back on many of the buddies you had in high school and college, what you realize is that if you hadn’t met during that time, and had that much automatic proximity contact, you probably wouldn’t have become friends otherwise; they weren’t the kind of person you would have picked out in a different situation to befriend. Because you got thrown together, you became pals. So even if you don’t feel like someone has the potential to be your bosom buddy right off the bat, give them a chance.

We simply give up. Maybe you’ve gone above and beyond and really put yourself out there and had no return whatsoever on your friend-investment. Just as with dating, not every relationship is going to take off. You can expect some friendships to just sort of wither away over time, or even in some cases be outright “dumped.” It doesn’t mean you have to give up, though, and accept, as the NYT put it, that “the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.” Friendships are too important an ingredient in our well-being; you just have to keep trying.

Steps You Can Take to Make Friends in Your New City

With the above in mind, here are some ideas to get you started making new friends in your new city. These ideas are a combination of a case study of our own experience here in Denver as well as plenty of research from books and articles on the subject.

Introduce yourself to your neighbors. We can have hundreds of Facebook friends and yet not know the names of the people who physically live right next to us. That has to change. Your first foray into making friends should be introducing yourself to your neighbors. Bring over a cake, a six-pack, anything to literally get your foot in the door. You’ll want to meet them anyway, as you’ll likely need to borrow something or get some basic information about the neighborhood. Jane and I just bought a house a few months ago, and already need to borrow a lawnmower and also find out how yard waste is handled in our area. If you don’t hit it off and become great friends, that’s fine, but at least you made the effort and now have someone you know next door.

Stick to your neighborhood as best as you can. This is something that has been very important to me. I exercise in our neighborhood by running outside, we grocery shop here, we dine out here, we get coffee and drinks here, and we are part of a church small group here. It all lends itself to friendship, especially over the long haul, much more than spreading out all your activities. We are obviously lucky to live in a place that we can do all this within a three-mile radius, so you’ll have to adjust based on your own surroundings. It’s something to consider, however, when you do move to a new place.

Re-connect with old friends and acquaintances. This is a good one. Whether high school or college, connect with your alumni network and you’re bound to find someone in your new town that went to the same school as you, and if you’re lucky, even at the same time as you. There are a few people here in Denver that Jane and I went to college with and we’ve been able to reconnect. Even if you weren’t really friends in school, you never know what can happen a few years down the road.

If you’re religious, connect with a church, synagogue, etc. Local religious organizations are one of the most sure-fire ways to meet new people and make new friends. You’re automatically finding folks who probably have the same values as you. Most of our current friends have been the result of connecting at church.

Make detailed plans. 84-year-old entrepreneur and producer Roger Horchow says, “You can’t just say, ‘Let’s get together sometime.’ You could be dead by then.” This is all too true. When Jane and I first got here, we said that phrase – “Let’s get together sometime” – to multiple people. And it didn’t happen. It took a few months to realize this, so we finally made some concrete plans and things have worked out well.

Have a hobby and be open to meeting people while doing it. You’ll see this tip everywhere. “Join a club or a hobby group and you’ll make friends instantly!” That’s only partially true. In our case, we practiced our hobby alone, but were open to meeting people along the way. The state of Colorado has about 150 small breweries – they are like coffee shops out here. Most weekends, we’ll try to find a new one to try out. On one occasion, we were sitting at a table and heard someone next to us talking about how he went to college just a half hour from where we did. So we struck up a conversation, and I’d now consider him and his wife to be friends of ours. We didn’t do our hobby with the express intent of making friends, but it happened while doing so because we were open to it.

Take advantage of the internet. Sites like meetup.com make it very easy to find groups around you that have similar interests. It’s also no pressure. You can scan events happening in your area, and decide whether or not to go – no one is keeping an attendance sheet. If you’re on LinkedIn, you can find all kinds of networking events in your new city, and even connect one-on-one with folks by saying something like, “Hi, I’m new to the city. Would you mind sitting down with me over a cup of coffee and talking about networking and business opportunities?” In my experience, people are incredibly friendly to these types of invitations.

Connect with your coworkers. This one can be tricky. Coworker relationships are often complex – you never really know where work/career aspirations end and true friendship begins. You have to test the waters and perhaps attend a few networking events together or a happy hour after work. Be open to this, but also don’t feel bad about maintaining barriers between work and play if you have to.

Open your house for meals and get-togethers. This is admittedly difficult. A few months into having our house, we just now feel comfortable having people over. It also helps that Jane is the entertaining type. This is one of those things that can really only happen as you start to make some acquaintances. Invite coworkers, friends from a small group, the guys on your YMCA basketball team…even just one or two contacts with someone is enough to invite them over if you’re brave. Jane and I even hosted a couple for dessert as a “blind date” — we got an email from a mutual friend saying we should get together, so we did! It’s that easy.

This is a great way to foster the type of environment that gets people to open up more. Plan a holiday meal for folks that don’t have other plans (we did that for Easter, and it was great). Offer to host a make-your-own pizza night or a college football afternoon. It doesn’t have to be anything special, it just shows that you’re willing to put yourself out there and get to know some new people. It also tends to happen that if you offer to host, it will be reciprocated in the near future.

In general, the biggest things that will help you in a new city are being open to friendships and opportunities wherever you go, and then following up and making concrete plans. I’m an introvert by nature, so when I’m invited to events or get-togethers, my gut instinct is usually to say no. I’ve had to pull myself out of that shell and change my default answer to yes. I very rarely regret it. Put yourself out there by getting out and about around town on a regular basis, be patient, say yes, and over time, you’ll have a great new group of friends.

What’s been your experience making friends when you’ve moved to a new city? Share you advice with us in the comments!

 

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Clayton April 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm

This is sincerely the most thoughtful and practical article I’ve ever read on the subject.

My wife and I will be moving to Houston June 1st to officially begin our careers. I look forward to heeding much of this advice.

2 Larry Anderson April 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I have been reading from your website for months and never realized you were from Des Moines! My wife and I just moved here about 10 months ago ourselves (I guess that’s what intrigued me about this article)…awesome job – this gave me some great ideas.

3 Mike April 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm

This is a great article. My wife and I moved to Salt Lake City a year or so ago. Making friends can be slow going, but following the advice in this article will get you there.

I would highly recommend social sports clubs. You really don’t have to be athletic at all to join a kickball team, and on most teams, everyone is looking for friends. You can usually sign up as a free agent on social sport websites.

Also, one thing Jeremy didn’t mention is volunteering. Your fellow volunteers will care about the same things you do, so you’ll start with one shared interest, at least.

4 King Dominic XLIII April 17, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I would pay special attention to the part about making friends through hobbies.

As a general rule, the larger the community who has the same hobby, the more forums, clubs, events, etc. there will be, which are great places to meet people with similar interests.
i.e. – Many people are into books and many people are religious, so there are many book clubs and religious groups for people to join to make more friends, as well as to further pursue your particular hobby or interest.

Also, the more social the hobby is, the more likely you are to make new friends.

5 Derrick R. April 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Where has this been for the past 7 years? When I first moved to St Petersburg I was lost for the most part. Still feel that way sometimes. I have tried a few of these out with some success. A couple of co-workers here and there have made things easier. I have two neighbors from my first place here that I have kept in contact with, one I even see usually weekly now that we have both left that complex. I talk to the neighbors when I do see them. I even lucked out this year and my next door neighbor from high school moved down with his family to the area. But nothing like the good old days of having a big group that I could call through for any reason. Marriage, kids, work… they all change things.

6 Lance April 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Church and work have always been my way to make new friends. I lived in Vegas for a while and I found that people do not want to know their neighbors there. I admit that is a different place with a ton of soft work going on, but still let’s have a chat every once in a while eh?

7 Rachel April 17, 2013 at 6:01 pm

One of the best tips I got when I made my first move to a new state (I’ve now done it three times because I’m a journalist.) was get rid of the normal excuses when someone asks you to do something. We often will forgo happy hour or eating out because we are tired or are trying to save money. But if you say no a couple of times, people will stop asking you. So when meeting a new person, I try to always say yes the first time!

8 Bryce Oleski April 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Great article, I just recently moved to Denver as well, great city. I recently joined a cross fit gym and it has been great for meeting people. Better than your typical gym because you are expected to interact with your team.

9 George April 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Currently on my 1st year of college and commuting everyday so I guess I don’t qualify for the article. However, I found it very interesting and quite applicable to my situation. Also, it is really useful to have some hindsight into the future (I expect to leave my country, Spain, for work after graduating).

I resisted somehow my change from HS to College, after passing the rather stressing adaptation period I am much happier now than ever before.

Internet (facebook) is quite useful, in my case it has led to “meh” relationships, shallow stuff mostly.

Really like some points of the article. It brought me to mind that while registrating on college, the guy next to me was from a nearby town; yet I remember him as somebody I would avoid. Put in a lot of common time (commuting) and I ended considering him my best friend at college.
As of making plans, I always want to do something with college mates but it’s hard. My friend lives close but resists to any kind of hang out!

Well, If you let me do a suggestion: a post about how to manage family/friends/work time for the commuting man. Sort of “tips for the commuting men life”.

I really like the site and many posts are really succesful; this might be my first post perhaps.

10 Robert Adamson April 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I loved this article. I, too, recently moved to Colorado from Washington state last August. I cant count how many times I’ve heard the advice “just put yourself out there” or “join a club.” Yes, while this advice may have good intentions, it is certainly not the fool-proof plan to friendships. I am currently 8 months into my relocation. Hopefully in a few months things will start looking up!

11 Christopher Harper April 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Volunteer somewhere local. Join a martial arts school. Take a class at a nearby college. Frequent certain restaurants and good bars…and just talk to people.

12 Jon April 17, 2013 at 9:07 pm

So most of your friends are from church and you like to visit micro-breweries…if you ever decide to live in Arlington Heights, IL, you’ll have a friend here!

13 James Ryan Moreau April 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I got into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and my girlfriend got into Crossfit and we’ve gotten to meet a lot of new people. It wasn’t instant new friends, but we kept going, kept getting better and kept getting closer to our comrades and training partners. Not to say everyone has to do those exact activities, but they work for meeting new people our city.

14 Alex Matan April 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Toastmasters clubs are very welcoming and attract a very diverse group of people. You can visit them as a guest for free as many times as you like and the dues (though set by each club) could be as little as $2/week. Larger towns will have several clubs meeting on different times/days of the week or serving special interest groups (internal company clubs, for example). Shop around as every club is a little different in atmosphere, but one will be right for you. If you are a member, you can easily drop in on other clubs while travelling to get new ideas or just meet some new people. http://www.toastmasters.org

If you’re Catholic, consider joining the Knights of Columbus. It’s a great way to meet a diverse group of men and engage in work that serves the Church and community. http://www.kofc.org

15 JR April 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I have been periodically reading articles on this site for about two years and this is the article I can connect to the most. I’m referred to as a “career student” – this is my seventh straight year of college (I’m not a slacker, it’s my second master’s), but admittedly when my friends ask me why I’m still in school it’s because of the friends aspect. I’m not ready to leave this lifestyle and the easy friendships that come with it.

My father works 50+ hour weeks in a good, high ranking and paying position at a growing company. But he admits he has no real (outside of work) friends. If it wasn’t for my younger siblings and the bills I know he would rather work part time at Home Depot and live on a little shack on the beach and make real friends – a completely opposite lifestyle. So many of my classmates yearn for the hard, fast, corporate NYC world, but meanwhile I’m trying to determine what would make me really happy, and it comes down to finding a job that allows me to live a lifestyle where I can have friends.

16 Nick April 18, 2013 at 12:39 am

A desire for socializing can act as a pretty good incentive for getting one’s act together and imposing a bit more personal discipline. The option of having folks over for dinner at a moment’s notice is really only open if you (and partner) have a place that is ready for people to come over at any time. The old college slovenliness has to become a thing of the past.

It’s also good incentive to maintain a stockpile of quality beer. Handing a guest a room-temperature can of watered horsepiss isn’t really a friendly gesture in my books.

17 Jef April 18, 2013 at 2:03 am

Me personally, I have never lived in the same place longer than six years, so I feel I can relate to this article (though I am only 22, mind you). Recently I moved abroad, to the country where my girlfriend lives, after spending two years in a long-distance relationship. It is not really an encouraging story. I really had to put myself out there, and she didn’t understand why I joined so many happy hours, and didn’t get why I said ‘yes’ every time someone would ask me to hang out. We eventually broke up (though not only for that reason). I have made some life-long friends now, and can easily get away with saying ‘no’ to social activities. But of course it would have been nicer to have girlfriend AND a social life !

18 Jerome April 18, 2013 at 3:21 am

Social studies tend to show that it takes between 9 and 12 months to integrate a new community, presuming that that you involve ourself into it. What I mean is that you have to invest time in building your new relationships.
In the past, it has been my most unbelievable mistake : sitting there and waiting for people to come to me! That just does not work.
It’s important to go to other people, talk to them (and don’t be afraid of making small talk in the beginning!). But, beware not to appear to be needy and desperately seeking attention and friends. That tends to make people go away!

19 Emily T. April 18, 2013 at 6:35 am

I moved from California to small town Huntsville, Texas about 9 months ago. And as you said, it takes time to get into the groove of things (approximately 6 months for me). You hit all the major points for making friends. An additional tip that I’ve found useful is that when my personal friends from California mention that they know someone in Texas, I will immediately ask them if I would get along with their friend and if they can set us up together. I’ve done this several times, and have made countless friends this way.

The most important rule I have is to be open to making friends in any setting or any walk of life. I’ve got Medicare-age friends, undergraduate college friends, and young professional friends. I fall in the category of young professional, by the way. I’ve made friends at the monorail station and at the auto repair shop. Get yourself out there and be open to letting people in!

20 Shaun April 18, 2013 at 8:03 am

This article is right up my alley. I moved from a small town in southern VA to Baltimore about 1.5 years ago, and it’s been a bit hard for me to connect with people in the big city. Part of it is probably social anxiety on my end, and part of it is being a bit overwhelmed from living in a larger city. Fortunately I’m now trying to attend MeetUp groups and put myself out there more in hopes to jumpstart my social life again.

21 Ron Callahan April 18, 2013 at 8:12 am

When moving to a new town, see if the community has something like a Newcomer’s Club. When we moved to our community, the Newcomer’s Club was a nice way to get the lay of the land. I can’t say that we are friends with any of the people that we met through it, but it definitely helped to ease our transition.

22 Patrick April 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

@JR,

That is very true.

Some people often forget that a job is a job, you can get a shit ton of that in your lifetime. But real, friends, brethrens, brothers and sisters are harder to find.

Finding the balance between a job and social life is fulfilling for most of us.

23 Andrew April 18, 2013 at 8:49 am

Dammit! After moving to three different cities in the past 12 months, I wanted to write this article. Well said though, great advice!

24 Robyn April 18, 2013 at 9:34 am

I would be cautious about connecting with coworkers as bosom pals, especially if you are new to a job. It may seem like the natural thing to do, but I have learned that the people you work with are not your friends. I’m not saying they are your enemies either though that may be more true than being friends. In the corporate atmosphere which seems to be increasingly hostile and competitive, your coworkers are your competitors and if you forget that, they won’t. You can be friendly with them and treat them courteously, but never let down your guard. Do not talk about your job or your coworkers, or management in any way shape or form with coworkers. Any confidence is sure to be exposed and used against you. I’m sure it sounds like I am talking from experience. I am, but not just mine, but many others’ as well.

25 Ted April 18, 2013 at 9:46 am

Well said. It’s good advice for when all of your friends move out of your city as well!

26 Sean April 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

Thanks for the article. It couldn’t have come at a better time for my wife and I. We are moving to Cincinnati mid June for grad school. I look forward to putting these principles into action!

27 Kevin April 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

I met all my friends after moving across country through Meetup groups and Toastmasters. My quick tip on meetup groups is that you have to attend consistently – see the same group of people consistently over a period of time for them to really become friends over 2 months at most. This contrasts with some groups who will do events once a month at best and different people show up everytime.

28 Rusty April 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

I’m moving from Las Vegas to San Jose, CA for grad school after living here for 25 years. Your articles always seem so well timed for events happening in my life. Thanks!

29 Stefanie April 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I’ve been contemplating this exact topic for nearly five years now. Sometimes, (and I think this feeling is perfectly okay to admit to,) you simply have bad chemistry with the collective personalities of a place. Echoing some of the previous commentary, while the advice to hit the groups and teams and gatherings and meetings is all well-intentioned, making friends usually happens (or doesn’t happen) organically and over time. It did for me anyway – finally and only sort of for many of the reasons discussed in the first half of this article – over a very long period of time.

To expand on your section about befriending the couple, those foursome-friendships have an additional layer of caution to watch out for regarding loyalty. I am a woman and have very close friendships with many other women – their advice and ear is incredibly important to my livelihood and has helped me become a better friend, partner, sister and daughter. But I am fiercely loyal to my long-time love. I would never air his peccadilloes to either member of another couple; share our private secrets, problems, fears, whatever, no matter how close the friendship. It isn’t kind to talk about the person you share a life with someone that you share dinner with then sit across the table from each other eating borscht. It is my belief that couple friends are K.O.F. at best-at any level of awesomeness.

30 Ara Bedrossian April 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Interestingly, I am looking to relocate to Colorado from Ohio this summer.
Among the first things I plan on doing is joining the local homebrew club..it sounds like it would be fruitful if they’re like coffee shops out there! Beyond that, I’m going to use my ignorance and ask people for directions and advice everywhere I go. What more natural way to start a conversation with future friends?
Of course, business cards should be ready to hand out, too.

31 Jack Grabon April 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Great article, Jeremy. You make good points on how to make friends. I would add that being friendly will help with making friends. That is, being helpful, saying hello to people, making recommendations, etc. will make you open to making friends.

Many people do all of the things you mention above but don’t make friends because they are a grouch or closed off, unwilling to really connect with others. I would even say that your mindset is more important than your method of meeting new people.

32 Jeremy Anderberg April 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

@Ara – Great point about business cards. My AoM calling card has coming in handy on a few occasions. Also, if you do end up out here in CO, I know of a few homebrew clubs, so be sure to reach out!

33 Kevin Daley April 19, 2013 at 7:22 am

Of course, I’ve found that the best thing for making friends is to do…something! Anything! But find something to do. For example, I met a lot of great people through my church and a local hackerspace (where people go to work on electronics/machining projects together). So much more effective than just letting the wind take you where it will!

34 Josh Phillips April 19, 2013 at 9:51 am

Great article! My wife and I actually recently moved to the Denver area and have found it difficult to adapt to the “big city” (we came from a smaller college town up north where it was much easier to connect with people). I’ll share these words of wisdom with her and maybe we can get out of our slump.

And I’d also like to throw out there that I’d be happy to meet up with you and your wife, Jeremy… sounds like conversations with you would be enlightening, to say the least.

35 Claude April 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Im terrible at meeting new friends. We moved 6 years ago and Im still working on it.

I learned one good trick, however. Constantly keep your eyes open for opportunities to help people. See your neighbor moving a couch or changing his oil or something, give them a hand. Bringing a couple beers along helps too. Good way to break the ice.

36 Al April 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Often overlooked is Toastmasters International. Almost all cities have several chapters. If you’re new to the city you simply attend a meeting and meet lots of people who are glad to meet you. Many of them your age.

37 Layton April 22, 2013 at 1:12 am

Good read. I live pretty close to Denver in Cheyenne, WY and visit the area often and I can say it’s not always easy meeting people there.

38 Starr April 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

Really enjoyed this article! My wife and I have just moved to Chicago and it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing your insight with us. Starr

39 Brandon April 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Having been born and raised in Georgia this has always been one of my greatest fears. Will I be lonely and not be able to make friends in a different state? I hope to live in another state one day, and i’ll keep this article in the back of my head.

40 Suyog April 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I’ve moved internationally twice in the past 2 years, and my #1 advice is to look at your contact list (Facebook, LinkedIn etc) to find friends that live in the city you are headed to. My wife and I are very specific about locking in a day and time to meet with people, otherwise, like you said, it’s “let’s meet sometime” and it doesn’t happen at all.
Very nice, practical article by the way. AoM never fails to impress.

41 John D April 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

As a single military guy, this article hits very close to home. I JUST relocated to the D.C. area a few weeks ago after having lived in Georgia for the last three-ish years. I wish I could say it’s gotten easier over the years, but there is always a re-settling process with every move, and unfortunately it can’t be fast-tracked. Personally, the “Church” and “hobbies” advice has worked out best for me. Church has (for me) always been one of the quickest, most comfortable places to settle into. My hobbies (ultimate frisbee and swing dancing) have also been a great source of networking.

Very good read. Extremely timely.

42 Justin April 23, 2013 at 12:22 am

The whole key to meeting people isn’t really opportunity. We all have dozens of opportunities throughout the day, provided you get out of the house.
What really holds people back is fear, embarrassment and timidity. It is one of the hardest things you can do to approach a total stranger and strike up a conversation. It is also incredibly easy. You just walk up and say “Hello,” or comment on the weather, their hat, or anything that might get the ball rolling.
Next, introduce yourself – it is almost a guarantee that you will get their name in return. Ask them about their family, their job, what they do for fun – then shut up and listen. Trust me, they will eventually get around to asking about your interests, if you show interest in them.

Short version: Go out and talk to people and be interested in them as a person.

43 Mark April 25, 2013 at 11:51 am

when i finished school i moved in with my girlfriend to Ann Arbor, MI. a college town, i figured it wouldn’t be too hard to meet people. my job didn’t lend itself to 20-somethings who want to hang-out and I only realy knew my girlfriend. her only friend was a dude she worked with and they hit it off a little too well for my comfort. After i moved out i moved into a house with some other fellas and made instant friends. before i moved in i suggested we hang out and grab a drink to make sure we get along, we did and we did. they are some of the best friends i’ve ever had. close proximity, planned and unplanned interactions, and vulnerability.
i got a new girlfriend and we may be moving sometime in the next year (after reading how to buy an engagement ring) and all my friends are moving away to further their lives, so this article gets me thinking.

44 T. Webb April 26, 2013 at 11:30 am

Count me as one who’s given up on it. With work and kids, friends just don’t work. And online “friends” – gimme a break.

45 Davis Nguyen June 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm

You hit all the major points Jeremy. The best thing to do (and I’ve traveled and study in different cities) is to join organizations that fit your interest. You will be amazed how many friends you make and how you meet through those friends. It could be something as simple as Toastmasters for public speakers or a Book of the Month club for avid readers.

46 Kathleen June 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Great article. You’re lucky to have moved TO Denver. We just left Denver last fall with a job transfer, and along with it we left the greatest bunch of people in the world.

In Colorado, our neighborhood had what we called “flamingo parties.” Someone put the word out that there was a party at their house on Friday evening, and everyone brought their own drinks, food to share, and we’d all hang out on the driveway yakking. It’s a great way to get to know people without having the obligation of opening your house to strangers and their kids. (There were LOTS of kids in our neighborhood.) We had most flamingo parties in the summer, but we also had them during snowstorms. (Everyone moved into the garage rather than the driveway if it was too cold.)

Barring all else, a good snowstorm or hailstorm will bring out your neighbors, and you’ll meet a lot of people that way. It’s heartening to see people band together to help out one another when things are tough. Colorado will give you a lot of opportunities for those connections.

I’d also advise that when meeting new people, don’t talk too much about how it was where you came from. People don’t like to hear that their place doesn’t compare favorably to your old hometown. It takes conscious effort not to talk more favorably of where you came from; it was a more familiar place, so of course you liked it better. That will change in time, but you may have alienated some folks who might have become friends in the meantime.

47 Roman P September 23, 2013 at 12:06 am

I moved to a new city three and a half years ago with my wife. Sadly, even after all this time, I do not feel that we have gotten our “social bearings” and frankly we are seriously considering moving back.

The problem is our group of friends in our hometown were so close and our bonds were so strong, nothing could ever compare. But even after coming to terms with this, it still doesn’t make our friendships here any more satisfying.

The best friends we have had here are transplants like us. We have had a bit of bad luck as our best friends when we originally moved got divorced. Also, we live relatively far away from our friends (40 minutes – hour drive) because of my job.

Trying to make friends with local people who have lived here all their lives is a constant insult to your self-esteem. No matter how close you think you are to them, they still consider you a “secondary” friend and have their primary group of friends from college/school that you will always play second fiddle to.

The story is always the same. You meet another couple at some event. Hit it off with them. Ask them to go have dinner with you or have them over for a BBQ. Have what seems like a great time. And then never hear from them. You then reach out a couple more times. Possibly they hang out with you again, but soon you realize that they never reach out to you. The reason is always clear. They have a big group of friends already. You are just someone nice that they met, but they have no interest in bringing a strange couple into their group of friends. Hell, when I lived in my hometown, I would have acted the exact same way.

And so we have lots of so called “friends”, but few real friends here.

48 RichB October 10, 2013 at 3:40 am

I really liked the article and the advice it gives to people moving into new cities. I myself moved to New York City last December not only with the intention of avoiding crazy traffic while going to work but also meeting new people – it was after all, the biggest city in the US – how hard can meeting new people be? Well, after a few months, I realized that unless you go out there and actively search for friendships, people are not going to randomly show up at your doorsteps and be your friends. Although I made new friends from work (thanks to the proximity part) and strengthen the ties to my existing friends (again, proximity, since many of my college friends live in LI or Queens), I wanted to break out of my comfort zone. Meetup.com is an amazing way to meet new people because it’s based on shared interests. Meeting people at bars just doesn’t cut it because the music is too loud and distracting. Along with proximity, keeping the contact is crucial to maintaining the friendship because the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ definitely applies to friendships. Although I’m generally good at introductory conversations, I always fear that point in a relationship where there’s nothing more to talk about and an awkward silence inevitably becomes present whenever you’re with that person. But I guess that’s just something I have to deal with.

49 Donald Y. Faller December 31, 2013 at 2:59 am

You made some really good points there. I looked on the internet to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

50 ishan January 10, 2014 at 12:24 pm

http://www.innfriend.com
Innfriend is online platform to search your old school/college/company friends. Innfriend makes your search easy. Once you find your, innfriend helps you to get connected with your friend because you will keep getting informed for any changes i.e. contact number, company,city, social networking profile etc.

51 Tyler April 16, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I’m also from Iowa! This was a great read and there were a lot of great points, definitely saving this for future use.

52 Jeremy April 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm

We moved to PHX 2.5 years ago and I still don’t know my neighbors names much less anything about them. Heck, I don’t even know where kids live in my neighborhood for my kids to play with. I work 25 miles away from my house so coworker relationships are confined really to office interaction. best part about this is that I believe this is ok. When did we become so socially dependent that we NEED to meet new people all the time and interact with meaningless conversation that will likely not lead to long-term friendship. studies suggest that less than 1% of people you meet and actually talk to end up being important in your life. With numbers like that why bother? My energy is better spent keeping up with my family, work and housework. Now my kids and wife can interact however they want but I just don’t see the point.

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