There’s no denying that moving to a new city can be both exciting and scary. On one hand, you get to start over, and you’re free to reinvent yourself in any way that you want without regard to other people’s expectations. On the other hand, you’re starting over — and that means trying to make a new set of friends and a source of companionship.
Now that you’re an adult, all of the ready-made social structure that school provided is gone. That can lead to a sense of isolation (and a lot of loneliness) if all you do is go to work, come home in the evenings, and sit around your house or apartment on the weekends. Fortunately, making new friends in a strange place isn’t really as hard as it sounds.
Here’s our guide for how to find friends when you’re new in town:
- Recognize That There Are Lots of Other People Seeking Friendships
It’s easy to fool yourself into believing that everyone you see is already comfortable in their lives, but that isn’t true at all. Isolation and loneliness affect about 46% of American adults — which means there are a lot of folks out there looking to make meaningful connections, just like you are. Anywhere you go, the odds are fantastic that you’ll encounter someone else who wants more friends.
- Try to Find Common Ground with Your Co-Workers and Neighbors
Your circumstances may have thrown you into contact with your co-workers and neighbors but there’s no reason you can’t try to expand on those connections. Put yourself out there and invite one or two of your co-workers out for drinks after work one night or organize a small barbecue so you can invite your neighbors over on the weekend for a few treats. A low-pressure setting lets you and your co-workers or neighbors see how well you “click” together.
- Look for a Class on Your Favorite Hobby (or Find a New One)
Art classes of all kinds tend to attract people who are naturally expressive, so go ahead and sign up for a class where you can both explore an interesting hobby and get put into contact with interesting people. Watercolors, acrylic painting, ceramics, fiber arts, creative writing and martial arts are great ways to find folks who are like-minded. Your shared activity even provides a ready-made talking point as you start to figure out who you want in your new circle of friends.
- Check out a Few Social Media Sites Designed for Newcomers
Social media sites are designed to help people make meaningful connections — and almost every area has a local Facebook group or Nextdoor hub. Get online and sign up, so that you can learn about what’s happening in the area, get a feel for the local values and find people who share your views. (Frankly, this isn’t a bad idea to do even before you relocate.) The Meetup app can also help you find people who share your passions, whether that’s cooking or politics, and City Socializer can help you find crowds of people who are all looking for something fun to do (and don’t want to do it alone).
- Find Local Cultural and Social Events That Interest You
Every community has its own culture and social scene. To tap into your new community’s culture, look at your city’s website or do a Google search to find out what sort of events are happening in your area — particularly in the summer and fall. Local festivals are a great place to make new friends because they’re designed to be accommodating to new people and loads of fun. Look for group activities and remember: Put yourself out there.
- Hit the Gym, the Pool or the Golf Course at Your New Place
If you’ve relocated into an exclusive community that provides homeowners with a lot of amenities, you probably have a pool, gym or golf course (maybe all three) at your disposal. If you’re interested in physical fitness or sports, take advantage of the opportunity. You may meet a “workout buddy” who eventually becomes your new bestie or find a local amateur sports team to join.
- Find a Locally-Owned Coffee Shop or Cafe to Visit Regularly
Almost every community seems like it has a locally-owned coffee shop or cafe that serves as a sort of low-key cultural hub and meeting center for the area. You’re looking for a place with a relaxed atmosphere that encourages people to sit and talk to each other — and staff members who quickly start to remember your face after you’ve been in a few times. While you’re there, find out if they hold poetry readings, book signings, game night or trivia events and plan your schedule accordingly.
- Volunteer to Make the World a Better Place
You have a lot to give and there’s no time like the present to get started. Check with your local area to find out where volunteers are needed and pitch in. Some places that almost always need volunteers include zoos, museums, animal rescues, food pantries, political action centers and most non-profits. Find something that inspires you, and you may just find other people who will make great friends.
Remember: There’s no magic trick to finding new friends. It’s just a matter of overcoming your self-doubt and putting yourself out there. Relocating to a new city, like Indianapolis, doesn’t have to be scary if you’re willing to take a chance on a few people.