21 ways to make friends in a new city

When I first moved to New York, I realized the most important question I had to answer was, “How do I make friends in a new city?” After lots of trial and error, I was able to go from no friends to meeting lots of new, great people that I’m still close with today.

The advice in this guide is for readers in their 20’s and 30’s.

1. Join a Meetup.com, Eventbrite.com or Facebook meetup

The best way to make new friends is to do something you enjoy, with a bunch of people who like the same things, regularly. Why regularly? You need time to get to know each other, and if you meet for several weeks in a row, your friendship will deepen and become more substantial.

So pick two interests, say food and hiking, and go to Meetup.com, Eventbright.com or Facebook Meetup and find a supper club to join or a weekend hiking group. I’m into philosophy and entrepreneurship and have met lots of interesting people through meetups on those topics.

2. Reach out on Reddit on r/makenewfriendshere or r/needafriend

People are super open and welcoming on these subreddits. On these sites, someone will post that they’re new in town, a few of their interests and that they want to meet people. Within a few days, four or five Redditors reach out to the Original Poster inviting them to do that hobby together – i.e. game night at a pub, ultimate frisbee, yoga, etc.

The key is to include three things in your post: where you live, what you like to do and your approximate age. Then watch the best in human nature take action.

3. Join a sports league (beer or competitive) or a billiards/bowling league

Check out a volleyball or basketball league in your town. Specify that it should be for adults and see what pops up. If your city is over 100,000 people, there are generally municipally funded programs that the city itself will run. Or try the bowling and billiards leagues around.

It will get you out of the house at least once a week, twice if you join more than one. And it’s fun!

4. Bring snacks to your office, class or recurring meetup group

Everyone agrees that food is a universal language. If you’re a baker, then this is your in. Bring cookies, brownies, cake, or whatever you love to make, to the office or class and share. Keep in mind allergies like peanuts and gluten so everyone can participate.

If you’re ambitious, suggest a Bake it or Fake It (store-bought goodies) every Friday and tada, you have a regular event with everyone.

5. Join a gym and do a class like Zumba or cycling

Talk to your neighbor when you’re there. In dance class, half the fun is trying to figure out the moves and failing horribly for the first week or so. Laugh it off. Your neighbor will also be feeling clumsy. There’s nothing like a dose of humility to bring people together.

If you want to get to know people, focus on classes rather than the weight room. People tend to be more open to socializing in classes.

6. Try Bumble BFF

Bumble BFF is not for dating but for finding friends with similar interests. It worked much better than I thought it would, and I’ve managed to make two close friends from there. I’ve also connected to several new friends through those two friends.

I suspect the city needs to be quite large for this app to work well, but it takes almost nothing to try it out. Make sure to write a bio that lists what your interests are and add a friendly photo of yourself.

7. Join a co-living

The best decision I made when I moved to New York was to live in shared housing (co-living). Knowing no one in New York when I moved here, it gave me an instant social circle. The only downside was that I got a bit complacent with finding friends outside of our house.

I lived there for 1.5 years and then moved to a new place with two friends I knew from the house. I still keep in touch with several friends from the original house.

Google co-living and the name of your city, or use coliving.com

8. Start a meetup group

Before going to New York, I moved from a small town to a city of half a million people. I was looking to join a philosophy meetup to find people like me, but there wasn’t one, so I decided to start my own.

I invited a few people I knew from other events that I thought would like philosophy. The thing that made it a success was that I told them to bring their friends who might enjoy the night. We met every Thursday night for a year and had snacks and drinks. I still keep in touch with many of them today. (That’s where I met Viktor, the co-founder of this site!)

You can publish your event on Meetup.com and ask people you know if they’d like to join.

9. Ask someone if they want to do something together (grab a coffee, walk at lunch, take the subway home)

It’s easy for people to say yes to small, low-time commitment trips. Everyone likes a break from what they’re doing after a couple of hours. Create a daily coffee run – to the same place or try a new one every week.

Grab lunch together and bring it back to the office or school. On your way home, ask the people you know who take transit, if they want to walk to the station together. Maybe not every day, but enough so they know you’re friendly, and you can build your relationship from there.

10. Put your hand up for that team assignment or after-class event

Say you’re at college or uni and it’s a new city, a new bunch of classes. Or you just started a job in a new town and know almost no one. Is there an opportunity to join a group project or event and pitch in your time, intellect, and enthusiasm? Take it – right now. Put your hand up and jump in.

The organizer will be eternally grateful, and you will get to spend some quality time with new potential friends.

11. Volunteer for a cause you care about

It could be an “Out of the Cold” project for the homeless, a local park clean-up, a used clothing rally, a political group door-knocking campaign – the possibilities are endless.

Think about a group that you’d like to join and will introduce you to people who have the same values as you. Those are your people. Check them out online and sign up.

12. Start a book club

Similar to the philosophy club or a supper club, ask your office cube mates or classmates if they want to start a book club. If you take transit to school or work, you know a good book can create a virtual bubble around you as you ride the subway or bus.

If you don’t have an extensive network yet, go on Meetup or Facebook and see if there is a book club near you that you can join. Bookstores are also an excellent place to find them. There’s usually a billboard that will advertise them locally.

13. Join or host a game night

Google “board game meetup” and “board games cafe” or “video game meetup” and the name of your city. Check out your local Meetup gaming group, the Game Shop in town or the local library. They all have game nights of some sort going on, often even in smaller cities.

Alternatively, you can host one at your place.

There are lots of different ways set this night up, try:

14. Take a class at night or on a weekend

Do you need a few more courses for your degree? Or is there something you always wanted to learn, like Creative Writing, and it’s offered at your local college? Sign up and spend time with your classmates once a week. Then you can chat about the assignments, the Prof, your work if it relates to the course. What’s the best part? You’ll have time to get to know each other over a few months of constant contact.

15. Join a church and connect with their life groups, the music program or study groups.

Faith groups are about building community. If you worship at one place weekly, why not find out if there are any groups that you can join. There’s bible (or equivalent) study groups, life groups (teens, young adults, families with kids, etc.), volunteer positions as ushers/worship teams/children’s programs. If you put your hand up, faith groups will know how to connect you internally and include you in their groups.

16. Got a dog? Check out dog walking & playgroups

Look up dog-walking groups on Meetup, or go to the same dog park at the same time every day. There are many pet meetups on meetup.com. Check them out here.

17. If you have family or one or two friends nearby – ask them to connect you to their friends

One cousin can connect you to their friends, and they’ll connect you to their friends. And so on, and so on. Give them a call, tell them you’re up for anything. You may not click with everybody, but nobody does. You just need one or two to start a group.

18. Do a cooking class or join a food tasting group in your city

Plugin anything to do with food tasting or cooking classes in your search bar. As usual, with meetups, recurring events are better than one-offs.

Then there’s Facebook and their 2.45 Billion users. I put in “Food Groups ‘My City'” and got eight events happening in the next week.

19. Go on a craft beer tasting or a wine tour

Alcohol tours and tastings are fun, easy-going events that are built around socializing.

Find your local pub or wine tasting destination and make a day or a night of it. Just book an Uber and a room, if you are going to a few different wineries.

20. Take an improv class

I went to improve-classes for a year, and it was more fun than I expected. Plugin “improv theatre” and see what comes up. This is a fabulous idea if it terrifies you. And it should scare you; it does that to most people. Don’t worry, though; it will give you way more than it requires of you.

What happens is this: it will bring down all your self-protective walls, and that makes it easier for you to be your true self. The other good part, everyone else is just as vulnerable as you.

More than just an effective friend-finder, improv teaches excellent life skills.

21. Join a craft or art class

Look up your local craft store (you know the big box one in all North American major cities) or the local pottery place. Also, check online to see what your community center offers or Facebook or Meetup.com.

If you want to build longer-lasting friendships, sign up for something that will take a few weeks.

David Morin is the founder of SocialSelf. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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1 Comment

  1. nice article, i was always afraid of doing all these things that you just described, and i still am, just reading and imagining me doing all that gave me anxiety, but i guess i have to do it to change my current state (no friends). imma start looking for some interesting events nearby and try to connect with people


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