10 WAYS TO MAKE FRIENDS WHEN YOU’RE MOVING TO A NEW CITY OR COUNTRY
At some point I stopped counting how many times I moved from one place to another. My moves ranged from changing a neighborhood to going to a different city and finally a different country. My first move was with a few boxes, going to college to Warsaw. My last one involved a big truck and a whole family. Frequent moving is not easy, even if you like changes. One of the hardest things to tackle is finding friends, especially when you’re no longer a student.
So here’s a very subjective list of ideas on how to make friends in a new country or city, especially when you’re moving with your family.
1. Internet: There are several online groups on Facebook where people with similar interests hang out together. You can also join an online group on Meetup and then meet with people in real life.
2. Neighbors: When I moved to Brussels, I was blessed with some great neighbors on our street whom I’m a still friend with. In Germany, after having encountered friendly neighbors, I made sure to share some cookies with them soon after our place was livable. A year or so later, they offered me support and lots of wine when Poland lost to Portugal and was kicked out of Euro 2016.
3. If your children are small, a playground is a great place to meet other parents and learn about pediatricians, local stores and story time in the local library.
4. If the city you move to has some parenting organization, be sure to join it. You will gain friends for life from playgroups with your baby and toddler. I’m familiar with two: one in France, Message, and one in Belgium, BTC. After 12 years, I’m still friends with my playgroup friends from Paris and we’re exchanging our experiences having a teenager.
5. If your children attend a preschool or school, it’s one of the best places to meet other parents. They will fill you in on the best orthodontist, dentist and climbing classes. Some of my best friends were parents I met in a small preschool in Brussels.
6. Book Club: Even if you think you don’t have time to read, one book a month is doable for everyone. And you don’t have to read it, you can listen to the audio version while driving or doing chores around the house. In most book clubs you discuss books but you also make great friends. My book club in Brussels met at night and there was always plenty of wine. The one in Germany is a breakfast one and I still find it weirdJ.
7. Your spouse’s work: You will get all the latest office gossip and you may even encounter a photographer who will take fabulous photos for your social media.
8. The gym: Moving to a new country or city is a great place to start a fitness regime or to update one. It’s possible even when you don’t speak the language. My first German words: downward dog and the tree pose.
9. If you’re religious, you can meet people in churches and temples. Recently, I attended a church where the community spoke English and Tagalog.
10. Last but not least: a giving organization chapter. When I moved to Germany from Belgium two years ago, I knew only a few people, through my daughters’ schools. So I decided to open a chapter of an American giving organization, Dining for Women, in Germany. I already had experience doing it in Belgium but in a new country you have to find members from scratch. So that’s what I did. My friends brought some of their friends and the group has grown and is still growingJ
Do you have your own ways of making friends in a new place? Please share!