How To Make Friends When You Relocate

This might sound like a post for kindergartners – but I keep getting this search phrase on my blog and the search stat keeps staring at me and I cock my head to the side and say, “huh…” – then I go paint my toes or head to yoga…leaving that “how to make friends” question alone.

Simultaneously, I have a good amount of friends moving to Boulder. Most of them, only knew a few people (if any) so they find themselves in the “friend business” as I call it – on the look out for friends, meaningful relationships and how to connect with people beyond the people they may already know.

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I’ve relocated a couple times and each time, I didn’t know anyone on the other end. It’s scary.

Friendships are our back bone. Just this past weekend, my girlfriend was out running errands and twisted her ankle and fell in the store. She could barely walk on her ankle and was in extreme pain. All weekend, our close friends took care of her, helped drive her to work and ensure she had bandages, crutches, etc. (she couldn’t drive and operate her clutch, at all). Think about what life is without friends? Hard. Sad. Empty.

In my experience (and because people KEEP searching for this and I’m really not into getting all preachy on my soapbox), here’s how I’ve been able to make some friends when in a new place:

  • What’s your passion or hobby? Find a group, club or organization that does just that and join it. No questions. You already know you enjoy soccer, so find an indoor/outdoor soccer league and sign up. What about knitting? Find a store that sells yarn, they can put you in the direction of classes or fellow knitters. Play an instrument? Find a group that jams together and bring your instrument to play along (hint: look up open mic’s, local pubs, live music joints, etc. for inspiration). Kickball? Even if you’re not athletic, these leagues are fun, usually involve more beer than kicking and it’s very social. Try: http://www.kickball.com/ actually lets you find kickball leagues by your zip code.
  • www.meetup.com. This is related to above (helps you find those groups) but sometimes it’s unrelated to a hobby, maybe it’s just a group of 20-something transplants who get together once a week for trivia night at a local pub. My friend moved here and to make friends, found a snowboard group, joined it, then met his core group of friends, plus gets hooked up with fun mountain deals and goes in on condo’s for the weekend.
  • Volunteer. Besides being good for the community and ______ cause you’re supporting, you can generally connect with community evangelists and those that are interested in your _____ cause while volunteering. It’s analogous and I call it, the gift that keeps on giving. My first year in Boulder I volunteered with Ladies Who Launch (met many professional contacts and now friends) and Colorado Horse Rescue (this spoke to my passion and I interacted with other horse lovers). Try: http://www.volunteermatch.org/ or http://www.serve.gov/ to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
  • Join a book club. Again, this is a club but a very specific one. Guaranteed, if you live in a city or town there’s a group that gets together. If reading is your thing, get involved. To navigate and find book clubs in your area try: http://www.readerscircle.org/.
  • Get a dog. Sounds funny, and please don’t do this just so you can make friends, but if you have one, let’s consider this. Dog parks are chalk full of dog lovers and owners. This is a great time to connect, say hello and let your dog romp around and make his/her own friends. Usually, you will start to see the same people (when you go at the same time) and you connect, over your dog and your love for dogs.
  • Connect with your Alumni Association. When I spontaneously decided I was moving to Boulder, I got in touch of my career advisor from college and asked her to put me in touch with my Alumni office. They happily pulled all the Alum living in Boulder and I got in touch. I was surprised to realize how many people were out here and inversely, I have been a resource for Alum looking to move to Boulder, so I’m happy to help.

This last point is general, but a good rule of thumb.

  • Be open and say “yes”. Consider yourself a joiner when you move somewhere new. You’re open to new opportunities and when presented with an event, get together, etc. just say yes, it can’t hurt. You never know who you might meet or how much you enjoy it. My roommate recently moved here and she only knew me in Boulder (hint: live with roommates, great way to meet friends) and we both laugh that even when she doesn’t want to necessarily go out, she feels inclined to try it and see what’s in store. This has garnered meeting new people, new experiences and acclimating to Boulder.

Bottom line, you can’t force friendships. They do not pop out of nowhere and often, take time. The key to these suggestions is that you’re at least out there. I also found that patience is a blessing. Friendships or groups of friends do not appear in 1-3 months, give this time and try out what works for you. Be open to change – I have many friends I met my first year here, through these points, who I am not friends with now. That’s okay, we change, evolve and eventually find our niche, our pack, our own community.

How have you found friends (post-college)?

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