Do you remember your first day of kindergarten? Remember how terrifying it was to walk into a big, scary classroom for the first time, full of other kids you didn’t know?
This doesn’t disappear in adulthood. Moving to a new city, starting fresh, and not knowing a single soul is just as scary (if not scarier) than being a five year old with no friends.
There aren’t as many practical ways to initiate new friendships when you’re a grownup. There isn’t anyone telling you who to sit next to, partner with, or play with at recess. If you want to make friends in a new city, you need to throw yourself out there, get involved and take initiative.
If you’re new to a city, use these tips to make new friends.
Don’t rely on your job.
Be friendly with your new coworkers, but don’t rely on your new office as your only pool of potential new friends. If all of your friends are from the office, then who will you turn to when your work life is stressing you out? Who will you vent to when you feel fed up with office politics?
Build a buffer around your work life and your personal life. Heading out for the occasional happy hour with your colleagues is great; relying on them for your social life is not.
Pursue your hobbies
The best way to make new friends is to meet people with similar interests and hobbies. If you enjoy Pilates or yoga, take a class at a nearby gym and introduce yourself to the other participants. If you like running and cycling, join a jogging group or find a triathlon team that you can train with.
Run a quick search on Facebook to see if there are any local groups that you can join, or check out Meetup.com to connect with people who share all kinds of interests – from sports to book clubs. There are even Meetup groups that are specifically for people who are new to town.
Attend professional networking events within your industry. You’ll get a double-benefit: more career-related contacts, plus the potential to make true friends.
Volunteer for local community groups, like the animal shelter downtown. You’ll meet other volunteers and become more involved in your new community.
Take a class
Check out your local community college to see what kinds of night classes they offer. You could beef up your resume by learning a new skill while meeting like-minded people. Invite your classmates to study over lunch one weekend, and see if you have more in common than just the coursework.
Ask for introductions
One of the best ways to meet people is by looking for friends-of-friends.
There’s a good chance that someone in your existing social circle has a friend who lives in the same city that you do.
To meet these people, post this message on Facebook: “I just moved to _____ and would love to meet people in the area. Does anyone know people here?”
Think beyond age groups
The funny thing about adulthood is that your age no longer marks friendship level. Friends are determined by common interests and shared experiences.
Whether you’re 28 or 48, there’s a good chance that you’ll bond with others who have a child in the same elementary school class, or practice yoga, or who rock-climb.
If your social circle in your last location was fairly homogenous, then you might be narrowing your ‘friendship’ criteria without realizing it. If someone shares similar interests or life experiences, invite them out for coffee.
Talk to strangers
Making friends as an adult is a lot like dating: it’s not going to just unfold without effort. You need to actively pursue relationships.
Step outside your comfort zone. Spend the evening at a coffeeshop, and smile at others when they walk in the door. Strike up conversations when you’re riding the subway or bus. Act more outgoing than usual, and you’ll naturally meet more people.
Keep putting yourself in new groups of people. Take new classes, join different meetups and events, and introduce yourself to new people.
You’ll be surrounded by new friends and acquaintances before you know it.