How to Make Friends in a New City

A new city is always a little bit scary because you don’t know anyone. Building up your social circles can be tough, especially when it’s late at night and the bar scene won’t let out until 3 am. Here are some tips on how to make friends in a new city so that they become real life-long companions!

In the “how to make friends in a new city in your 20s” article, the author discusses how to make friends in a new city. They also mention that it is important to be yourself and not try too hard.

Vintage friends walking down Atlantic city boardwalk.

Every year, around 15% of the population of the United States relocates. If we extrapolate it over a five-year period, the figure rises to 40%. The majority of relocations are within 50 miles, although one-fifth of those relocating change states.

About ten months ago, my wife (Jane) and I relocated from Des Moines, Iowa to Denver, Colorado. We’re just now beginning to find our social stride. I don’t have hard information, but I know anecdotally from interacting with a range of individuals that it takes around that length of time to fully get your bearings in a new city and begin to form a new circle of acquaintances. That may seem to be a small period of time in the long term, and it is, but it may feel extremely lonely in the present. In this post, I’ll discuss not just how to make friends in a new city, but also the variables that lead to friendship and some of the roadblocks that might make making new friends tough after you graduate from college.

The Three Crucial Steps to Developing Friendship

Sociologists started to investigate friendship theory in the 1950s. They came to the conclusion that meaningful friendship is predicated on three fundamental factors. As our society becomes increasingly digital, some individuals are starting to question this notion, but I feel it is still valid now as it was 60 years ago.

Physical proximity: Being physically near to someone for a lengthy period of time naturally leads to friendship. Some individuals attempt to contradict this by claiming that it is no longer required in today’s environment. Consider your high school or college buddies after you’ve moved away. It became much more difficult to maintain genuine contact, and you probably lost touch with the majority of them. Yes, you can see what they’re up to on Facebook, but are you truly friends if you don’t communicate regularly?

Interactions with Jake at the neighborhood coffee shop in the morning or with Will and his wife at church on a Sunday morning are examples of repeated and unplanned interactions. These aren’t scheduled get-togethers; they happen when your paths intersect in the middle of town at random. Obviously, this becomes much more difficult after college. However, you can assist by shopping, eating, exercising, and other activities in your community. This improves the likelihood of bumping across folks again and maybe meeting new acquaintances.

Vulnerability is defined as individuals being able to let their guard down and fully be who they are in a setting that encourages vulnerability. People are wary when they first meet you, regardless of the situation. They won’t allow their sense of humor shine through, and they won’t provide too much information about their personal life. When you hold a little backyard BBQ instead of simply meeting up at your local trivia night every week, people are more inclined to open up. Friendship flourishes in smaller, more intimate environments.

Why Is It Difficult to Make Friends After College?

We have no idea how to accomplish it. The three keys described above come easily to the atmosphere in school, regardless of level. For the last four years, you’ve spent virtually all of your time with the same folks. We find we don’t really know how to be purposeful about establishing those settings that lend themselves to friendship after we’re out and have moved away. We must realize that getting out of the home and meeting new people requires action. We must also learn to establish plans and stick to them, since impromptu contacts from college will become more rare. Because they haven’t had to, they are things that won’t necessarily come easily.


Priorities change throughout time. Friendship is used by humans to meet specific emotional demands. This is how a terrific New York Times piece puts it:

“Everyone has an internal alarm clock that goes off when they reach a major life milestone, such as reaching 30.” It serves as a reminder that time horizons are shortening, so it’s a good idea to slow down on exploration and focus on the here and now. ‘You tend to concentrate on what is most emotionally meaningful to you,’ said Laura Carstensen of the Stanford Center on Longevity,’so you’re not interested in going to that cocktail party, you’re interested in spending time with your kids.’

You won’t hunt for emotional satisfaction elsewhere if you can obtain it from your family. So there comes a moment when we stop attempting to make friends and decide that we can be comfortable communicating just with those in our own family. For a short while, this occurred to me and Jane, but we decided we didn’t want to be hermits. There will come a moment when you will want social engagement other than with your spouse and children.

It’s much more complicated when you’re in a relationship. Making genuine friends becomes more difficult when individuals “couple up.” Not only do you have to like someone, but your spouse should as well. The challenge is amplified if you’re developing acquaintances with another couple. Is each individual fond of the other couple’s members? You’ll almost certainly have to make some concessions at times.

It becomes much more complicated when you have children. Children not only take away some of the social time you used to have, but they may also establish awkward and forced connections. If the children get along, the parents may feel obligated to do so as well. “I spend full days with people, I’m like, I never would have spent out with you, I didn’t select you,” comedian Louis C.K. riffed. Our kids matched up with one another. By the way, no criteria were used. They’re both around the same size.”

We become more selective. With less time and emotional need for friends, we may begin to raise the bar very high when deciding whether or not someone is worth getting to know more. We anticipate to have a lot in common with them and want the type of closeness we had with pals when we were younger. But what’s interesting is that when you think back on many of your high school and college friends, you realize that if you hadn’t met during that time and had that much automatic proximity contact, you probably wouldn’t have become friends otherwise; they weren’t the type of person you would have chosen to befriend in a different situation. You made friends as a result of being thrust together. Give someone a chance even if you don’t think they have the ability to be your best friend right now.


We just quit up. Perhaps you’ve gone above and above, putting yourself out there, and received no return on your friend-investment. Not every partnership succeeds, just as not every dating connection succeeds. You should anticipate some friendships to fade away over time, or even be bluntly “dumped” in rare situations. It doesn’t mean you have to quit up and accept that “the era for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is very well past,” as the New York Times put it. It’s time to accept situational buddies: K.O.F.s (kind of friends) – for the time being.” Friendships are much too vital to our well-being; all we have to do is keep trying.

Making Friends in Your New City: Steps to Take

In light of the above, here are some suggestions for establishing new acquaintances in your new city. These concepts are based on a case study of our personal experience in Denver, as well as extensive research from books and papers on the topic.

Make an effort to get to know your neighbors. We may have hundreds of Facebook friends yet be completely unaware of the identities of the folks who live just next door. This must change. Introduce yourself to your neighbors as your first step toward creating friends. Bring a cake, a six-pack, or whatever else you can think of to get your foot in the door. You’ll probably need to borrow something or obtain some basic knowledge about the area, so you’ll want to meet them anyhow. Jane and I just purchased a home and are in need of a lawnmower as well as information on how yard trash is handled in our region. It’s alright if you don’t click and don’t become fast friends, but at least you tried and now have someone you know next door.

As much as possible, stay in your community. This is something that has always meant a lot to me. I run outdoors in our area, we grocery shop here, eat out here, have coffee and beverages here, and we belong to a small church group here. It all lends itself to friendship, particularly over time, much more than just spreading out your hobbies. We’re obviously fortunate to reside in a location where we can accomplish all of this within a three-mile radius, so you’ll have to make adjustments depending on your particular circumstances. It’s something to think about if you do decide to relocate.

Reconnect with old acquaintances and pals. This is an excellent example. Connect with your alumni network, whether it’s from high school or college, and you’ll almost certainly discover someone in your new area who attended the same school as you and, if you’re fortunate, even at the same time. Jane and I went to college with a couple friends here in Denver, and we’ve been able to reconnect. You never know what may happen a few years down the line, even if you weren’t actually pals in school.


If you’re religious, join a church, synagogue, or other religious organization. One of the most reliable methods to meet new people and establish new friends is to join a local religious group. You’re inevitably meeting others who share your ideals. The majority of our present pals are the consequence of making connections at church.

Make thorough preparations. “You can’t simply say, ‘Let’s get together someday,’” explains 84-year-old entrepreneur and producer Roger Horchow. It’s possible that you’ll be dead by then.” All of this is all-too-true. Jane and I used to say “Let’s get together someday” to a lot of folks when we first moved here. And that didn’t work out. We eventually realized this after a few months and created some specific plans, which have worked out wonderfully.

Have an activity that you like and are willing to meet new people while doing it. You’ll see this advice all over the place. “Join a club or interest organization and you’ll meet new people right away!” That is just partly correct. We did our activity alone in our instance, but were open to meeting new individuals along the road. There are roughly 150 tiny breweries in Colorado, which are similar to coffee shops. We’ll attempt to locate a new one to test out on most weekends. We were seated at a restaurant one day when we overheard someone next to us talking about how he went to college about a half-hour away from where we did. As a result of our talk, I consider him and his wife to be friends of ours. We didn’t undertake our activity with the intention of creating friends, but it occurred as a result of our openness to it.

Use the internet to your advantage. and other similar sites make it simple to locate groups with similar interests in your area. It’s also not a high-pressure situation. You may look for upcoming events in your region and decide whether or not to attend — no one keeps track of attendance. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can locate all types of networking events in your new area and even connect with people one-on-one by saying something like, “Hi, I’m new to the city.” Would you mind having a cup of coffee with me and discussing networking and business opportunities?” People, in my experience, are tremendously welcoming to these invites.

Make friends with your colleagues. This is a hard one. Workplace relationships may be complicated; you never know where work/career goals stop and actual friendship starts. You must first test the waters by attending a few networking events or a happy hour after work together. Be receptive to this, but don’t feel terrible if you need to keep a boundary between work and play.

Make your home available for meals and gatherings. This is, without a doubt, a challenging task. We only feel comfortable inviting guests over now that we’ve had our home for a few months. It also helps that Jane is a gregarious person. This is one of those things that can only happen after you start making some friends. Invite colleagues, a small group of buddies, the men from your YMCA basketball team… If you’re daring, even one or two encounters with someone will be enough to ask them around. Jane and I even hosted a couple for dessert as a “blind date” after receiving an email from a mutual acquaintance encouraging us to do so. It’s that simple.


This is a fantastic method to create the kind of atmosphere that encourages individuals to be more open. Plan a Christmas supper for those who don’t have anything else planned (we did that for Easter, and it was great). Offer to host a make-your-own-pizza night or an afternoon of college football. It doesn’t have to be anything remarkable; it just demonstrates your willingness to put yourself out there and meet new people. It’s also likely that if you agree to host, you’ll be invited to do so in the near future.

In general, being open to new friendships and possibilities wherever you go, and then following up and establishing actual plans, are the most important things you can do in a new place. I’m naturally an introvert, so when I’m asked to gatherings or get-togethers, my first inclination is to decline. I had to break free from that shell and modify my default response to yes. I just have a few regrets in my life. Put yourself out there by going out and about in town on a regular basis, be patient, say yes, and you’ll find yourself with a wonderful new group of friends in no time.

Listen to our podcast with Daniel Cox to learn why it’s so difficult to establish friends, particularly for men:




“How to make friends in a new state” is an article that gives some tips on how to make friends quickly and easily. It includes things like going to meetups, joining clubs, or just hanging out with people you know. Reference: how to make friends in a new state.

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