Moving to a new city can be among the top ten stressors in an adult’s life. Further compounding this stress can be the challenge of moving there and not knowing anyone, especially once your days in college and grad school are over and you lack the built-in cohorts you used to have.
With that in mind, and because this is SUCH a common issue for so many of our clients at Evergreen Counseling, we wanted to compile a practical list of 10 suggestions for making friends in a new city and (bonus) a list of therapeutic inquiries for you to consider if the challenges you are having making friends seem to be beyond just the practical.
1. Reconnect with old friends.
Before you rush to seek out and form new friendships, be curious if there are any old friends in your past you may want to reconnect with. Remember that old Girl Scout song? “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” There may be old friends who have moved to your new city that a quick alumni network or Facebook search could reveal.
2. Put yourself in real life situations with new people.
Whether this is a mastermind group, recreational ultimate leagues, weekly Zumba classes at Y, a night class at a local community college, an REI training class, a MeetUp, put yourself in situations where you’ll meet multiple new people face to face. (And, better yet, consider hosting a class, party, or Meetup if you feel up to it!)
3. Similarly, say yes to invites where you’ll be exposed to new people.
A birthday dinner party for a girlfriend where you may not know everyone else, a networking gig, an alumni gathering, say yes to moments where you’ll be exposed to new people. This can feel hard if you struggle with social anxiety, so take your time, and start off by saying yes to invites that push your boundaries a little bit each time.
4. Find and follow your kindred spirits on social media, especially if they live in or near your new city.
One of the best parts about social media is how we can more easily seek out our like-minded kindred spirits — our Wolf Pack! — that we may not otherwise have had any other way of meeting. Connecting and following someone online may not bloom into a real friendship right away, but this may happen over time if you two decide to take it offline (and this has definitely been the case for me!).
5. Deliberately plan time in your calendar monthly for friendship.
This may sound silly but life gets super busy and before you know it, months have flown. Put a friendship date — whether with an old friend or a new one — down in your calendar and stick to it. Don’t let schedule overwhelm keep you from prioritizing this if making friends is, in fact, a priority for you in your new city.
6. Join a therapy group!
Whether this is a Women’s Circle, a grief processing group, a recently broken-hearted or preparing yourself for relationship group, find a circle of people journeying through something you’re going through in your new city. That kind of connection can be vulnerable and powerful.
Or join a Board. Or host a fundraiser. Again, it’s all about putting yourself in environments where you’ll be exposed to new folks and the bonus here is feeling good for giving back!
8. Host something for your new neighbors.
Or, at least, say “Hi” in the hallway or on the street taking out the recycling bin.
9. Be proactive and pursue things that you’re interested in/passionate about.
Whether it’s a jewelry making class, open water kayaking, or investing, join groups and classes online or in-person in your new city to meet a variety of new folks.
10. Host a monthly potluck.
Once you have one or two established relationships, gather at a restaurant and ask your friends to bring someone new into your group each month. Bonus! You get to check out a bunch of new restaurants in your new city.
Where we can get therapeutically curious:
- Do you have resistance to initiating new friendships? Are you actually open to new relationships right now?
- Are there issues in current or older friendships you’re avoiding looking at in your pursuit of new friendships?
- Do you trust that there are people out there that you’ll resonate with? Or do you have a fairly pessimistic view about meeting new people?
- What comes up for you when you think about exposing yourself to new people and new situations?
- What’s your history of friendship been like? Is it painful in any way and is any of that showing up for you when you think about actively trying to make new friends?
We hope this list of practical suggestions and inquiries feels helpful to you! And if you would like more support when you’re moving to a new city (or with any issue at all!) please do reach out to us. We would love to be of support to you.