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How to Make Friends in a New City

Earlier this week, I received an email from a reader who, like me, works from home and is about to relocate to a new city–something I did over 5 years ago. I was never especially great at making friends and didn’t put much into maintaining relationships, but that’s changed a lot the past few years. I’ve learned a lot about myself, friendships, meeting people, and creating meaningful relationships, and wanted to share a little bit about my journey. Let’s talk about how to make friends in a new city.

How to Make Friends in a New City

My mom always used to tell me that the man of my dreams wasn’t going to magically appear in my living room which was obviously said pre-tinder and instagram because these days you can secure a date and make a new friend while wearing sweatpants on your couch on a Tuesday evening. But in all seriousness, you have to put yourself out there (and eventually leave the house) if you’re looking to improve your social life. When I moved to Chicago back in 2010, I worked for myself from home as a freelance graphic designer where my only method of communicating with clients was email. I lived with a tiny, adorable, non-English speaking roommate (here’s looking at you, Buddy), so I literally could have gone days without seeing or speaking to anyone.

Not every effort will result in a friendship

There will be people who aren’t interested in making new friends, flaky friends, the ones you like but only see every so often, the ones you hit it off with right away that eventually fade, and when you’re lucky, the really, really good ones that stick around. My blog definitely made it easier to connect with people and make new friends. But let’s remember that I moved here in 2010, a year and a half before launching The Everygirl. And I didn’t know anyone. Here’s what I did, and what advice I have for any of you looking to make new friends as an adult.

Connect with your co-workers or clients

I didn’t have co-workers and most of my design clients aren’t based in Chicago, but my former client turned friend Gina hired me to design her blog. When we started working together, I asked a few questions about paleo and we ended up emailing back and forth. I suggested that we grab lunch and we’ve basically spoken every single day since.

If you don’t have co-workers

Try frequenting a coffee shop or co-working space and getting to know people there. I’m not suggesting that you go up to strangers at a coffee shop and ask them to grab brunch, but if you find a great co-working space, could be worth checking it out a few days a week. You’ll probably end up talking to someone and might make a new friend.

Social Media

Meg and I followed each other on Instagram for a while, decided to meet up, and now we’re friends. Look for people you might want to connect with on your favorite social media platform because it’s 2015 and blog/Instagram friends are a very real thing.

Put yourself out there and just say yes

Take this scenario. A friend knows someone through work and has this person invite you to a BBQ at their friend’s house. You are a. mortified but b. go anyway because you need to meet new people and c. make a great new friend that night. I never in a million years would have said yes to this pre-move but didn’t really have anything to lose. I made a good friend at that party.

Ask for connections

Ask friends of friends if they know anyone they can connect you with, attend a cultural event, or try something (anything) new. Just get out there and have an open mind.

Reach out and then follow up

Back in Santa Barbara, I saw a new girl walking around my ex’s apartment complex, pulled over, and said hi. Found out she had just moved in and suggested that we get together soon. She’s been one of my closest friends for 10 years. We haven’t lived in the same city for over half of our friendship but have managed to get closer as the years go by. We talk every single week, she’s visited 3x, and I see her every time I’m back in LA.

I emailed the one Chicago blogger I “knew” and asked her for dinner recommendations. She invited me to dinner which I obviously said yes to because I was friendless and didn’t have plans. Then she invited me to a party and I asked if she’d like to get together the following weekend. I became friends with neighbors, and if/when I met someone who seemed nice, I’d suggest lunch or coffee. It’s not always easy, but gets easier with time. Make it a point to suggest plans with someone new/interesting that you meet through someone.

Take a class/join a club/volunteer

My friend Gina talked me into CrossFit which was such a great way to meet new people. I left CF a year ago but have stayed in touch with a few friends that I made there. So sign up for that guitar lesson, French class, photography class, or running club. Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Trying something new is a great ways to make new friends with common interests.

Social Media

My friend Katie and I somehow became friends on Facebook (we had a lot of mutual friends). I had reached out to ask if she’d be able to shoot something for The Everygirl. We ended up chatting (via FB messenger) which naturally led to brunch plans. She’s been one of my closest friends for two years.

You really never know when/where you’ll meet someone. The most important things you can do are put yourself out there, suggest plans, and stay in touch.

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