Making Friends in a New City

I recently received a comment from someone who, like me, moved to Chicago, and who also doesn’t work with young professionals her age. I have worked out of my living room the almost three years that I’ve been in Chicago, and until starting The Everygirl, was working by myself. This could have been a recipe for disaster, but I put myself out there and have made some really wonderful friends.  I don’t have tons of friends, but am lucky to have some really good ones and want to share a few examples so you can see how, through one person or one event, you can end up making some great friends.

I first moved to Chicago on Feb 1, 2010 for a 1.5 month sublease in the Loop. The thought of actually moving across country terrified me, so since I was working from home, I brought my laptop and worked from Chicago during that time. I did not know a single person, but reached out to Michele, Chicago blogger that a friend of mine had been following. She invited me to an event where I met Kirby. Michele and I have stayed in touch through work, and Kirby and I are still friends. We actually met for lunch on Sunday. Reach out to people. Even bloggers you don’t “know.”

I decided to look for a place toward the end of my sublease and contacted a real estate company. I was told that a girl named Amie would come pick me up and show me around. After looking at a few places, she invited me out for a manicure and drinks. I’ve actually only seen her once the past year, but we’re still friends. I also met a few people through Amie. No one I am particularly close to, but still good people. You never know where or how you’ll make a new friend.

My mom had an associate out here in Chicago who was going to a friend’s BBQ just two weeks after I moved here. She told me he was going to invite me, and while I’d normally never agree to this, figured I might meet some great people. This is where I met Christine, another LA transplant. We spent a lot of time together the year she lived in Chicago. She has since moved back to LA. Go to things. Even when you don’t want to.

I spent almost two years in a brand new building in River North. Everyone was new to the building and the city, so I made a group of friends in my building. Much like my CrossFit friends, we traveled in a group. I stayed good friends with my next-door neighbor Brandon. He has since left Chicago, but we’re still in touch and get together every time he comes back to town. I went out with Brandon and his friends a a few times and became friends with his friend Allison. Make friends with your neighbors!

And on to one of the most important ways I’ve met people–blogging! I made quite a few friends through blogging, but am only close with a few of them. Bloggers are generally pretty nice and will almost always reply. Or at least I’ve found that to be the case. Consider starting a blog, or reach out to a blogger you know.

And another big one–CrossFit. Gina was actually a client back in May ’12, and I started asking her Qs about paleo. She wrote a very long email about paleo and Crossfit, and I told her I was in the area and asked if she’d want to grab lunch. We met for lunch, she talked me into giving CrossFit a try, and I was welcomed into an amazing group of people who I spend most of my weekends with. I honestly don’t know what I did without these people in my life. I love them! I realize that not everyone wants to give CrossFit a try, so if it’s not for you, take up yoga or spinning, volunteer, join a networking group, sign up for an art class…get out there!

The best piece of advice I can offer you is to put yourself out there.
Ask people to grab coffee, get lunch, or plan drinks with a few friends
and tell them they’re welcome to bring people. I don’t do this as much
anymore, but make it a point to stay in touch with my friends. If
someone invites you to a birthday thing or drinks with their friends, go! 

Have you ever relocated to a new city? How did you make new friends?
Leave a comment
  • Love this post Danielle, thanks for writing it. I have had some successful moves to other cities in the past in terms of making great friends but I feel a bit stifled this time being in the suburbs and not right in the city!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Love this. I moved to D.C. almost four years ago — I had a few friends, but for the most part, was on my own. I started a food blog, and ended up meeting some friends through a blogger happy hour I found on Facebook! I still have standing weekend coffee/brunch dates with one of them.

  • This is a great post! I have lived in NYC, Seattle, and SF without knowing very many people, and it's true what Danielle says: "Get Out There"! Don't be afraid to take yourself out of your comfort zone, because beautiful things WILL happen 🙂


  • I have moved alot, always alone, and I agree – go out there. DO STUFF, TALK. You cannot meet anyone even if you do go by standing in a corner. I actually really miss this about my traveling days. However, my life at home with my husband and baby girl – its pretty fantastic too!

  • All of this is so true! I moved to Chicago after college with a close girlfriend, and lucky for me, made quick, solid friendships at my job (lots of people age 25-35). I also had a ton of college acquaintances and friends in the area, so it was really nice, and then I met people through grad school.

    A year ago, I moved to Des Moines, IA, where I encountered pretty much everything you said above. My boyfriend already lived here, so he had his friends; my new job involved an older demographic; I wasn't familiar with the area, etc. It's taken a LOT of time and effort to make new friends, and it can honestly feel SO. FRUSTRATING. I really had to put myself out there and get involved, and that was uncomfortable since I was used to having a core group of people. I think moving to a smaller city has its own challenges as well, since most people I've met are from here and consequently have their own groups of friends pretty well established…whereas in a larger city, more people are looking to make friends.

    I just keep telling myself it takes time. I also tell myself, "proximity breeds familiarity" whenever I don't feel like being the new kid at a party or event 🙂 — sometimes you gotta just force yourself to go and be social!

  • Such great advice Danielle! I haven't even moved out yet, but I still want to take all of this advice, as I'm finding that as I'm in a newer phase in my life as a working person, my friendships aren't what they used to be. Friends have moved away, and some of us have just drifted and are finding that we don't have the same bonds we used to share, so I'll definitely use these tips for sure!!

  • I would love to move to a new city, maybe even country but I'm way to scared to do it but I love this post and it gives me hope that one day I might be brave enough to do it!

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  • this post couldn't have come at a better time. My husband and I are getting ready to move to a new city and I'll admit the thought of making new friends, etc scares me. In the past 5 yrs we've moved countries and cities within this new country several times. It is really tough work!! I'm hoping to take what I've learned over the last 5 yrs and make this next move much easier of everybody. I hope I can make a close group of friends fast!

  • Almost 9 years ago, I moved from Florida to Birmingham, AL (for work of course). I didn't know a soul. I read an article in the paper about a "couch to 5k" group, and thought what the heck. I had been meaning to take up running, and I had plenty of time on my hands. Seven marathons, and countless half marathons later, I have made a wonderful and diverse group of friends because of it. And next Thursday, I will celebrate my 4th wedding anniversary (met my husband through work). So just think of moving to a new city as an adventure, I did.

  • Great post, Danielle! I have moved twice (from Chicago to Amsterdam to, very recently, Portland) and have had the same approach to meeting friends as you.

    Most importantly, ALWAYS be open-minded about where/how you can make new friendships. It's very surprising sometimes! In fact, my husband and I were selling some things on Craigslist a few weeks ago and totally hit it off with a couple buying our old bed! We ended up trading info and meeting for drinks. I think they'll become "real" friends, which is so wonderful.

    Also, NEVER under-estimate the power of networking. We ended up becoming great friends with people through mutual acquaintances. Initially, there's that common bond (lucky for us, it was a lovable friend who was easy to talk about:) and hopefully it can grow into it's own thing.

    Just realized I used 'always' and 'never'… two absolutes that I normally try to avoid. It works here! xoxo

  • This is such great advice and I need to follow it! I moved to LA many years ago and have had groups of friends come and go (through moves, career changes, new families, etc). Suddenly, after having lived here for many years, I find myself working alone, from home (after 13 years in a very social work environment). I keep telling my husband that I need to make some friends, but sitting here alone in front of the computer won't make that happen! Thanks for such a timely (and excellent!) post!

    I'm off to walk the doggies and say hello to some neighbors!

  • Great advice! I moved to DC and to Chicago not knowing many people and it can be tough to meet people! Luckily I worked with young people so that helped, but when I was in DC I joined a kickball team and made some life-long friends!

  • I recently moved to Virginia by myself, and meeting new people and making friends has been a big challenge for me. This is great advice. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Aw this is so great! I love you and I'm so glad I went through that phase where I thought I could be a blogger…otherwise I never would have met you. I have a very pretty yet abandoned blog…but I also have one of my best friends! xoxoxoxoxo I love you and buddy.

  • Moving to a new place is always scary, especially when you don't know anyone! I didn't know hardly a soul in NYC before I moved, but I made my friends by attending events and chatting up as many people as I could. I also found that I "shed" my first set of friends after about six months and made more lasting friendships following that.

  • Hi Danielle, thank you for taking the time to respond with this post (I was so excited when I saw this!) I really appreciate you detailing your experiences and sharing some valuable advice. I definitely enjoyed hearing some of the other perspectives shared in the comments as well. I think in the back of my mind I have known for awhile that I need to just get out there. Which means not just whining to my best friend who is also living in a new city (not Chicago) with hardly any local friends to hang with. Or just hanging out with my boyfriend and his friends because, let's be honest, it's not the same as having your own group. Therefore, I'm going to use your advice as some long over due motivation and just get over myself and get out there. But yes, great post and the SATC picture is just perfect. Reminds me that despite everything else, we all want good times like that to share with friends (more motivation). Thanks again!

  • Hey Danielle

    It's so true that you never know where and when you end up making friends. I have always been skeptical about people meeting up because they met online. But after I started working for this company that is about an app for chatting and making new friends, I have seen first hand testimonials of group of friends formed because they met online and even some who have dated and tied the knot.

    After all we are social animals we find ways to make friends knowingly or unknowingly. =D


  • Thank you for posting this. It's so comforting to know I'm not alone. My husband and I are planning a big move across the country later this year and the scariest thing by far is knowing that I have to make new friends.

    I recently started Crossfit also and it is AH-mazing. Everyone is so nice and it has a real team/family feeling. One of the reasons I tried it was because of your blog posts and Instagrams about Crossfit – so thanks! 🙂