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Let’s face it – it’s not always easy to meet new people and make friends in a new city – especially when you don’t know anyone. And yet, that’s the position I find myself in right now having recently moved from Denver, Colorado to Knoxville, Tennessee.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it seems like the older you get, the harder it is to make quality new friends. And I’m talking about good friends – ones that you can call on at anytime. It’s exciting to be in a new city, but it can also feel isolating, especially if you don’t know anyone. For me, there have been other circumstances that make it even more challenging to make friends in my new city. I live by myself, so I’m probably not going to be joining groups specifically for couples. I don’t have any kids, so I’m not going to be in groups with other parents either. And I work remotely from home, so I don’t have any co-workers.
So what do you do to make friends in a new city? Where do you even start? The first place I’d start is to think about what you’re interested in. What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time? Once you do that, there are actually lots of ways to make friends in a new city.
Here are 14 of my favorites.
14 Ways to Make Friends in a New City
Meetup.com is a great place to start when you’re trying to make new friends in a new city. Meetup is a service used to organize online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests. It’s a great place to meet new people, find support, learn new things, or even get out of your comfort zone. You’ll find every type of group on there from fitness to business, to parenting, to social and many more. So just go to Meeup’s website, put in your city and start browsing groups by whatever interests you.
2. Sports Leagues
If you’re interested in playing sports, your city probably has various rec leagues. These sports clubs were created to provide recreational sports leagues and social events for adults over 21. Just Google the name of your city and Sports and Social Club to find what your city offers. You can sign up as a group or sign up by yourself and be put in a group. Sports include volleyball, bowling, kickball, flag football, and softball. It’s a great way to have some friendly competition and meet new people.
3. Hiking Groups
If you live in a city that has hiking trails, you’re sure to find a few hiking groups. The first place you can find hiking groups is on Meetup.com which we already talked about. But you can also Google your city and hiking club. While you’re at it, you can probably search for other clubs that may interest you such as mountain biking groups, kayaking groups, rock climbing groups, etc.
All cities and towns have spots for volunteers to donate their time. Not only is it a nice thing to do, you can meet new friends on a more deeper level, and connect with them over a shared bond of kindness and giving back. You can search for all kinds of volunteer opportunities online – everything from location, to type of volunteering, to a specific organization you want to work with, to the times you’re available, or even the distance from you. Whether you want to work with kids, seniors or animals, there’s something for everyone.
Churches are all over the place. Heck in some cities they seem to be as common as Starbucks! However it can be a little overwhelming to choose one. Nowadays, churches all have social media accounts and websites so you can check them out with no strings attached before you go to one. They usually have videos of previous sermons that you can listen to, which will help you decide if it’s the right fit for you. Once you pick a church, most of them have small groups that meet weekly or every other week. So you could join a small group and make friends that way.
If you’re into health and fitness, a gym is a great way to make friends in a new city. Now I’m not talking about hitting on someone that’s trying to get a workout in. Instead, take group fitness classes. When I lived in Denver, I joined a small private gym owned by a husband and wife that specializes in small group workouts and I made several friends here by going to the same workouts on a consistent basis. In Knoxville, I recently joined F3, which is a national network of free, peer led workouts for men. There’s a smaller, but growing, network for women as well, called FiA (Females In Action). Other types of gyms that offer group workouts are places like CycleBar and Orange Theory.
7. Social Groups
Your city may have a social group specifically for people that are new to the city. If yours has one, definitely take advantage of this! In Knoxville, there is a group called New2Knox, and their purpose is to bring people together to experience all that Knoxville has to offer. They know that making friends as an adult is hard, so they help you make friends by putting together events on a regular basis.
Denver has a similar group called Strangers to Friends. So do a search, and see if there is one in your city. If not, you can take the lead and start a club. I’ve actually done that through Meetup – I started a group called Knoxville Outdoor Fun and Fitness, and Meetup does a great job promoting my group to its members. So if you have an idea for a group, and your city doesn’t already have it, start one through Meetup.
8. Book Club
We’ve talked about the power of book clubs in the past. In a book club, you are usually assigned a new book to read each month. The clubs organize monthly meetings where you discuss that month’s book and talk about their favorite parts. Showing up at a book club meeting is not only a good way to learn about a specific book, but also to expand your social circle and befriend a large number of people.
Similar to the gym, a yoga class is a great way to meet people. It takes going to the same class on a consistent basis so you can begin to be familiar with the same faces. Yoga classes aren’t usually a place where you’re going to do much talking during the class. But before and after class are good times to get to know the other people that share the common interest of mindfulness.
10. Co-Working Spaces
If you’re an entrepreneur, like me, or have a remote job that allows you to work from anywhere, check out co-working spaces. Co-working is an arrangement in which several workers from different companies share an office space, allowing cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructure, This can be a great place to meet new people and make friends.
11. Running Groups
Most cities and towns have organized running groups. Most of these are fun runs, and you can usually find a different one every day of the week.
Many of these start and end at a brewery, and at the end of the run, you get a free or discounted beer! There’s usually at least 10 people running, and you’re all in it together, making for a great place to get connected!
12. Trivia Nights
During the week, when it seems like there may not be much to do, you can usually find a trivia night at a bar. What a fun way to meet other people!
Speaking of bars, it’s an old tried and true way to meet other people. Bars are a pretty obvious place to meet people, no matter what city you’re in. I’m not that into drinking, or big crowds myself, but you can always try going at an off peak time, so if you do meet a new friend, you can actually hear them and carry on a conversation. I’ll sometimes take my laptop in, belly up at the bar for a couple of hours and chat with new people while I work.
14. Dog Parks
I saved the best for last. This might be possibly THE easiest way to make new friends in a new city. The dog park! Anyone that has ever moved to a new city (or anyone that is single and is looking for a partner) knows that a furry friend is your best wingman. Dogs are the easiest conversation starters, and they instantly make you the most popular person in the area. Take your pup to a dog park or just downtown and you’ll be a hit. In fact, I can almost guarantee that you’ll talk to at least one new person. You’ll have to try hard not to. Now there’s only one problem – what if you’re like me and you don’t have a dog? No problem! You can volunteer at the local humane society. In Knoxville, The Humane Society of East Tennessee has a Hiking Hounds program. You can take a pup out for a walk on the weekend to help them get some exercise! See if your local humane society offers something similar!
Final Thoughts on Making Friends in a New City
There you have it – 14 ways to make friends in a new city! When you move to a new city, and don’t know anyone, it’s not easy to make new friends. Believe me, I get it. But I hope this list sparks some ideas on how you can get out there and make new friends. Pick the one that sounds like the most fun and start there. The more consistent you are, the better chance you’ll have of making some really good friends. And most of all, have fun!
Finally, one proven way to improve your happiness and life satisfaction is to focus on goals that truly matter. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Scott Colby is an adventure lover who has always created businesses around his passions. Although he has spent over a decade in the fitness industry, helping people create transformations, it was a trip to Guatemala that inspired him to create his latest brand – Say It With Gratitude.