How To Make Friends When you Move Countries

Moving countries is both an incredibly exciting yet equally daunting task. From immigration, visas, finding a new home, new jobs, opening bank accounts, getting work authorization (like applying for a Social Security Number!)... there's a lot of admin and logistics that you have to figure out along the way.

I moved from the UK to New York aged 22, fresh out of university, and on a mission to live in this city no matter how long it took. Reflecting back on that move 5 years ago, something I was definitely nervous about was finding friends. When you move countries outside of a naturally social setting, like college, it's definitely more of a challenge to know where to look. When I moved to New York I knew 3 people, now my network & friendship group is larger than what I have back in the UK! Admittedly New York is definitely a welcoming and social city which makes all the difference but there's a few key things I picked up on along the way. So this post is for anyone who recently moved or is about to move when the world opens up again from a fellow expat!

Live with a local!

In my first year in NYC I lived with my now best friend Chloe – she grew up in the city and was not only unbelievably welcoming in introducing me to all her friends (and family!) but she also knew all the best places to eat, hang out and explore. She was one of the 3 people I knew before moving but there are other ways to meet locals in the city too – via friends of friends, online housing FB groups, Craigslist (obvs be a bit more careful with that one!)

Say yes to EVERY invite!

Okay maybe not every single one, I am an extroverted introvert – i need my alone time! But whatever you're invited to, whether it be a dinner, a small group drinks, someone's birthday – try and say yes. Even if you're really not in the mood to change out of your sweatpants, the likelihood is that someone you already like will have friends you love too!

Attend work events

Often you'll be moving city for a new job – workplaces can be an awesome way to grow the network of people you know. Go for post-work drinks, or initiate a social Zoom gathering with a few people you think you'll get on with, eat lunch with someone!

Be the person that says Hi in a workout class

Yep, you heard me. At the end of a class, perhaps make a joke or strike up a casual convo with a another woman in your class. You never know, maybe you'll get yourself a gym & breakfast buddy (when gym's fully open again, obvs).

Ask friends who they know!

There might be a distant relative, family friend or maybe their best friend from primary school lives in the area – I'm constantly surprised by how small the world is.

Lastly – enjoy your new country (or city)! You can meet friends in the most random of places, so go out and explore and congrats for making the move.

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