Why Is It So Hard to Make Friends When You Move?

Moving is stressful because you’re essentially starting a new life. You have to set up a new home, start a new job, and make all new friends in your new city.

Why is the last item on the list such a challenge?

First, you can’t count on old pals to introduce you to new ones like you could back home. (Unless you ask.) Second, moving comes with a slew of time consuming tasks like changing your address, getting the lights turned on and figuring out how to fit your old couch into your new space.

But, don’t worry. You’re not doomed to stay friendless if you follow these tips for making friends after a move:

1. Connect Though Tech.

It’s tempting to go home after a long day at your new job and flop down in front of a screen. But technology also can help you meet new people. The friendship app Pingwheel connects users across six main “TICs” or things in common: work, school, hobbies, interests, background and personal. The app instantly highlights all your commonalities with any user, helping you break the ice and strike up a conversation, said Pingwheel founder Patrick Arenson.

“So if you’re a software engineer from Spain who loves soccer, Pingwheel helps you find other engineers, soccer enthusiasts and Spanish speakers in your city,” Arenson said.

One other idea: speaking of asking old friends to connect you, mention your move on social media and ask if anyone knows someone you should meet in your new city.

2. Take a Lead Role.

One of the most common pieces of advice for making new friends is to join groups. Depending on your interests, you might meet new buddies at church, a political organization, volunteering at your kids’ new school or through a biking, golf or skiing club, said Darlene Corbett, a coach, therapist and author of “Stop Depriving the World of You: a Guide to Getting Unstuck.”

But some adults attend a few MeetUps, hand out on the periphery and then complain that they haven’t made any new friends. You can change that by jumping into a leadership role, where you’ll naturally be thrown together with other members of the group.

That way, you’ll get to know each other slowly by working on projects or events together. This removes some of the awkwardness of having to make small talk, and the sense of accomplishment will give you a shared bond. Another way to take a starring role is to start your own group, which you can do in five minutes via MeetUp.com.

3. Make the First Move.

Don’t be shy. Take the initiative and introduce yourself to your new neighbors right after you move in, Corbett recommends.

Neighbors can be good friend candidates because you already have one thing in common and it’s easy to slowly get to know each other. Chats over the fence or advice about native plants can progress to drinks on porches and backyard BBQs. Making the first move also is a good idea in other arenas, such as work and clubs.

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there,” Arenson said. “The only way you’ll make friends is if you try.”

4. Just Say Yes.

Say yes to any and all invitations and opportunities in your new city, recommends psychologist Angela Grace, who has personal experience with making friends after a move. Nine years ago, she moved by herself to a brand new city in Canada to finish her PhD. She knew no one.  She delved into her studies and began to hang out with her new classmates any time someone invited her to do something.

“By saying yes, you are inviting new experiences and people into your life,” Grace said. “There will always be someone to connect with.”

Try these tips and, before you know it, you’ll have friends.

“In a new city, friends become your family, and every transition into a new place becomes easier and more enjoyable with a support system,” Arenson said.

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