How to Make Friends in a New City: 9 Tips for Newcomers

Last updated on May 31st, 2024 at 08:36 am

Are you moving to a new city—or even to a new country? Congratulations on taking this step and pursuing new opportunities, for yourself and your loved ones. Moving to a new place is exciting, but can also be lonely, especially if you’re far from your family and friends.

A new city is a chance to meet people—even if you don’t know anyone there at first. It might be easier than you think to form new friendships. Check out the list below for tips on how to make friends in a new city.

How to make friends in a new city

Group of friends at a BBQ

Research tells us that it can take 200 hours of bonding time to create close friendships. So get strategic about making new friends by finding opportunities to spend quality time with new people, even small amounts.

Not sure where to start? Try a few of these ideas on how to make friends in a new city.

1. Volunteer

Is there a cause that you’re passionate about or a nonprofit you already support?

See if you can volunteer for a few hours a week. Not only will you be able to do good in the world, but you’ll also be able to bond with fellow volunteers, nonprofit staff, and the public.

Organizations like VolunteerMatch can make it easy to search for volunteer opportunities that match your location, schedule, and interests.

2. Take classes

If you want to make friends in a new city, classes are a great way to connect with new people.

Consider taking:

  • Fitness classes
  • Dance classes
  • Cooking lessons
  • Crafting classes

Does striking up a conversation feel awkward? After class, ask another learner, “What did you think of class?” or ask for advice on a particular aspect of the class.

Casual conversations often turn into friendships that you can nourish over time. Extend the conversation at local coffee shops after class, for instance, and you might find that new connections develop naturally.

If you’ve moved to a new country and want to learn the local language, language classes are another ideal way to make friends. You’ll learn useful language skills, meet native speakers, and connect with other learners.

3. Play sports or become a fan

There are two different ways to get involved in local sports. First, you can join a casual sports league for adults. You’ll get together with your team for practice and games, which gives you plenty of opportunities to connect with other players. Some options for a sports league might include:

  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Kickball
  • Basketball

If you don’t like playing sports but enjoy watching them, you can also become a sports fan. See which sports teams are the most popular with locals and attend a few games.

Sports fan clubs and sports bars are popular places for fellow fans to become good friends.

4. Use a friend app

Instead of learning how to make friends in a new city with face-to-face encounters, you can rely on a friendship app to do a lot of the work for you.

There are plenty of apps you can download to find local friends, including:

Friendship apps work just like online dating apps, but the goal is to find friends instead of a romantic partner. Depending on the app’s features, you can view a person’s profile and see what you have in common before you connect.

5. Join a club

Friends looking at a camera

If you want to make friends in a new city, clubs are another great way to connect with people who share common interests. Consult free platforms like Meetup to join clubs for:

  • Knitting
  • Crochet
  • Hiking
  • Art
  • Photography
  • Board games
  • Running
  • Sports of all kinds, from cricket to rollerskating

Social media like Instagram or Facebook Groups are also a solid option if you want to join local book clubs, connect with fellow karaoke singers, or find fellow vegetarians in your new city.

6. Meet friends of friends

This step is all about taking the social media effect to real life. Friends of friends can go from acquaintances to closer friendships over time. Getting to know the other like-minded people in your new social circle can be easier than meeting people out of the blue.

7. Meet fellow expats

Did you immigrate to a new country? While it’s wonderful to connect with locals, meeting friends from your home country helps to ease homesickness.

Fellow expats understand your language and culture. They can make a new town feel more familiar and welcoming, and they know what it’s like to be a new immigrant.

Look for local groups of immigrants or expats through Meetup and Eventbrite. You can also check with your city’s Chamber of Commerce to look for local businesses that host cultural events.

8. Hang out with coworkers

In a new city, it’s difficult to connect with people. But if you moved for a new job, you’re likely working side by side with plenty of people in the office.

If you get along well with your coworkers, invite them to grab dinner or a drink after work. You already have something in common because you work at the same office, which can help the conversation flow.

If your workplace regularly hosts events for employees, attend at least a few of them. Whether it’s a weekend picnic or a group lunch, these social events will help you get to know your coworkers on a more personal level, which will help you make friends more quickly.

9. Cook for your neighbors

Do you live in an apartment building? One of the easiest ways to make friends in a new city is to connect with the people who live closest to you.

Apps like Nextdoor help you connect with your neighbors, but face-to-face connections are valuable too.

A great way to break the ice is to cook or bake for your neighbors. If you moved to a new country, you could even try cooking a special dish from your homeland and share the recipe with your neighbors. For example, if you’re from the Philippines, introduce your neighbor to some of the most popular Filipino foods.

Some apartment communities will schedule happy hours or social activities for their residents, too. Check the bulletin board in the apartment office for these events and add them to your calendar. You never know where you’ll find new friendships.

Become a local in your new city

How to make friends in a new city: group of friends laughing

Whether you relocated for work or you wanted more opportunities, moving to a new city is a big adventure. You’re creating a new life. Major kudos to you. It takes time to make friends in a new city, and you’ve got this.

Taking small steps to go outside your comfort zone will help you build a local support system that can become your home away from home.

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