How to Make Friends in a New City

Making friends in a new city can be challenging — but having a plan prior to moving can help fight off some of that “new move loneliness.” 

Having recently left New York City, where I lived for nearly two decades, I was a bit nervous about finding new friends. Luckily, I was quickly able to make new friends — but it took effort and stepping out of my comfort zone. 

Moving has a lot of components. If you’re moving somewhere completely new, there are so many things to figure out — your coffee shop, take-out go-tos, where to work out, how to get around, and where to make friends.

So often people just move without planning and then find themselves quite depressed and feeling alone. Just like you might try four coffee shops before deciding on your favorite, you’re going to have to do some experimenting with where and how to make new friends. 

One thing that’s important to remember when moving is that it will be difficult at first. You can set yourself up for less loneliness if you’re able to accept that this is part of the process. It’s easier to conquer anything when you acknowledge it and then move confidently through it. 

Whether you’ve recently moved or have a big move on the horizon, I’ve rounded up my best advice for making friends in a new city.

friends laughing together

Where to make new friends after moving

Talk to your current friends

If you have a few friends, chances are they have a few friends. Friends look out for each other. Email, text, or simply ask your friends if they know anyone in the place you’re moving to. Ask for a setup. When moving to a new city, having a point person is so helpful.

Hopefully, that person will also become your friend — or maybe they’ll just provide insight. Be unapologetic about asking for help and hanging out. Most people have moved — and most people know that making friends in a new place is hard — so they’ll likely be thrilled to help you out. 

Do your research

What do you like to do?  Yoga, run, SUP — whatever it is, research places and put dates to explore them in the calendar.  Recently, a friend of mine moved to a new town and saw that the local brewery had yoga. Socializing was built into the otherwise quiet activity. 

People have been isolated for a couple of years now — and everyone is in need of some socializing. Find what you like to do and go do it. Meeting other people with the same interests provides an instant thing to talk about. 

Go into the office

Many of us now have a hybrid work-from-home situation. Go into your office. Go in as often as you can at first. Research shows people are more likely to feel lonely when working from home. Once you’re at work, you’re more likely to take a walk for lunch or coffee. 

Working from home has many benefits, but getting to know people isn’t one of them. If you have the choice to go to the office, do it! Moving to a new city means learning the city — and that commute to work is one thing that’ll help you get out of your house regularly.

Join all of the Facebook groups

Most people I know don’t use Facebook for anything but groups. There’s a group for everything. If you’re a parent, joining the local parents’ group is the best place for all of your questions.

If you’re not a parent, there are still a lot of local groups for whatever you’re looking for, particularly if it’s a hobby. Join the group, put up a post saying you’re new to town, and see what happens. 

How to make friends in a new city

Make it a priority

As adults, it can be hard to meet people — especially when working from home. Schedule times to do things that will force you to talk to people. Put it in your calendar. Just like you would a date with a friend, make that date with yourself. 

Be bold

Instead of scrolling through your phone, go old school and start a conversation — when you’re in line at the pharmacy, getting a manicure, or leaving that Pilates class.

I knew that for me, the most essential friend group I needed was running/triathlon friends. Dialing in on a particular category of friends helped me know where to focus my energy.

Live Relationships

About Stephanie Roth-Goldberg

Stephanie Roth-Goldberg, LCSW, CEDS-S is a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders. She is the founder of Intuitive Psychotherapy NYC, a small group psychotherapy practice focusing on treating eating disorders through an anti-diet, HAES lens. Stephanie works with athletes and the intersection of eating disorders and sports. Stephanie, a runner and triathlete herself is passionate about incorporating movement into eating disorder treatment to help folks feel empowered and connected to their bodies. She regularly presents on the subject of eating disorders and exercise. When Stephanie isn’t working, she can be found running around with her two children, writing, or triathlon training.