June 13, 2018

10 Practical Suggestions for Making Friends in a New City

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 […]

By Annie Wright|Adulting
group of individuals standing near each other chewing gum

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.

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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.

7. Volunteer.

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:

As you can see, none of the above suggestions are rocket science and they’re really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creative ideas about how to meet and make new friends in your new city.
So where we also want to be curious is if there’s something bigger showing up for you when you think about going off and pursuing some of these practical suggestions. If there is some kind of psychological resistance that shows up for you.
For instance, here are some inquiries I invite you to reflect on if making friends in a new city feels like a challenge for you beyond the practical, logistical side of things:
  1. Do you have resistance to initiating new friendships? Are you actually open to new relationships right now?
  2. Are there issues in current or older friendships you’re avoiding looking at in your pursuit of new friendships?
  3. 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?
  4. What comes up for you when you think about exposing yourself to new people and new situations?
  5. 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

Navigating the labyrinth of establishing connections in a new city can be a daunting prospect, often ranking among the top stressors in the lives of adults. The cessation of the built-in social networks that come with academic life, such as college and grad school, further amplifies the challenge. At Evergreen Counseling, we empathize with the struggles faced by our clients in this regard. To provide a comprehensive guide for making friends in a new city, we’ve crafted a unique blend of practical suggestions and therapeutic inquiries, aiming to address both the logistical and emotional aspects of this endeavor.

1. Rediscover Old Connections:

In the digital age, rekindling relationships from the past is more accessible than ever. Nostalgia can be a powerful tool for building connections. Consider utilizing alumni networks or social media platforms to identify old friends who may have also made the move to your new city. As the saying goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old,” emphasizing the enduring value of established connections.

2. Engage in Real-Life Situations:

While online interactions are convenient, there’s unparalleled richness in face-to-face encounters. Immerse yourself in various activities, ranging from mastermind groups to recreational classes. Hosting events can be a proactive way to bring people together, fostering a sense of community. The physical presence and shared experiences in real-life situations lay the groundwork for meaningful connections.

3. Embrace Invitations:

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is a crucial aspect of making new friends. Accept invitations to gatherings where you may not know everyone, whether it’s a birthday dinner or a networking event. Conquering social anxiety may take time, but each affirmative response contributes to personal growth and an expanding social circle.

4. Connect on Social Media:

In the vast landscape of social media, finding like-minded individuals has become more accessible. Platforms offer the opportunity to connect with kindred spirits who may not be immediately visible in your day-to-day life. While online connections may start virtually, they have the potential to evolve into genuine friendships when taken offline.

5. Schedule Friendship Time:

Life’s hectic pace often leads to neglecting social priorities. By intentionally scheduling time for friendships on a monthly basis, you elevate the importance of these connections. Whether spending time with existing friends or cultivating new ones, this deliberate approach ensures that social bonds are not overlooked amid the chaos of daily life.

6. Join Therapy Groups:

The therapeutic power of shared experiences cannot be overstated. Joining therapy groups that focus on specific life challenges, such as grief processing or relationship transitions, can lead to profound connections. The vulnerability inherent in these groups often results in deep, authentic relationships.

7. Volunteer and Give Back:

Beyond personal fulfillment, volunteering provides an avenue for meeting new people who share a commitment to a cause. Joining boards or organizing fundraisers not only expands your social circle but also contributes positively to the community. The shared experience of giving back can strengthen the foundation of new friendships.

8. Be Neighborly:

Sometimes, the simplest gestures can lead to lasting connections. Initiating contact with neighbors, whether through hosting events or casual greetings during daily activities like taking out the recycling, fosters a sense of community. These casual interactions can evolve into meaningful friendships over time.

9. Pursue Passions:

Actively engaging in activities aligned with personal interests is a strategic way to meet like-minded individuals. Whether it’s joining online or in-person classes or groups related to hobbies like jewelry making, open water kayaking, or investing, shared passions create a natural bond.

10. Monthly Potlucks:

Once a foundation of relationships is established, hosting monthly potlucks becomes a delightful way to expand your social circle. Encourage friends to bring someone new each time, creating a dynamic environment that not only fosters connections but also introduces you to diverse culinary experiences in your new city.

Therapeutic Inquiries:

While the practical suggestions provide a roadmap for making friends, it’s equally important to explore any underlying psychological barriers. The following inquiries invite self-reflection:

  • Initiating Friendships: Are there internal resistances to initiating new friendships, and are you genuinely open to forming connections at this time?
  • Relationship Baggage: Are there unresolved issues in current or past friendships that might be influencing your pursuit of new connections?
  • Trust in Connections: Do you trust that there are people in your new city with whom you’ll resonate, or do pessimistic views about meeting new individuals hinder your efforts?
  • Facing New Experiences: What emotions arise when thinking about exposing yourself to new people and situations?
  • Friendship History: Reflect on your history of friendships. Are there painful aspects influencing your approach to actively making new friends?

By delving into these inquiries, individuals can gain deeper insights into the emotional landscape surrounding the pursuit of new friendships in a new city. Exploring these facets not only enhances self-awareness but also provides a foundation for building more authentic connections.

In conclusion, the journey of making friends in a new city is a multifaceted experience that requires a thoughtful blend of practical strategies and introspective exploration. Each person’s path is unique, and by combining these suggestions with therapeutic inquiries, individuals can navigate this challenge with a holistic and informed approach. At Evergreen Counseling, we believe in supporting individuals on this journey, offering not only practical guidance but also a space for self-discovery and growth. If you find these insights resonating with your experience or if you seek additional support during your transition, we welcome you to schedule a complimentary consultation call. Our dedicated team is here to assist you in navigating the complexities of establishing meaningful connections in your new city.

any issue at all!) please feel free to book a complimentary consult call. We would love to be of support to you.

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