Moving around a lot is amazing, but also lonely. Chances are you’ll soon miss having friends to hang out with. Here’s how to connect with people wherever you are.
Making friends was a piece of cake as a kid—you shared a shovel with someone in a sandbox, and boom! Besties. As an adult, the sandbox is freakin’ massive, covered with a laser field of social norms, and occasionally someone pees in it.
Even if you’re moving with your SO or a friend and therefore are not technically alone, it’s still important to find other people to hang out with. Take spending 24/7 with someone, add the stress of a new environment, and things can get real stabby real fast. Save your relationship—stab new acquaintances instead.
Here are some things to do or at the very least work on to improve your chances of meeting new people in a new city.
Use your existing friends
What are friends for other than using them for your own good? If you have a buddy in the city you’re in, there’s nothing wrong with saying “Hey, do you mind if I tag along with your group?”. Plus, since the people are friends with your friend(s), it’s likely that you’ll click with them because you have a similar taste in friends. Unless your existing friends suck. In that case, abort mission.
If you don’t have any close friends in your location, do a quick search and see which of your Facebook connections live there—even if you haven’t talked to these people in a while, it’s always nice to rekindle old acquaintances. And steal their friends. And then steal their friends. It’s like a pyramid scheme of friends.
We’ve even got a Facebook search on Teleport Cities to save you the trouble:
Just go to a city page, scroll down to People, and click.
Talk to people
I can literally hear every single introvert reading this sliding into the shadows, hissing. What do you mean “talk to people?”
I’m socially, uh, incompetent as well, and very aware of how talking to total strangers can be intimidating. However, trust me—striking up a conversation with anyone, anywhere is nothing else but a skill that comes with practice. Start small, and soon you will be able to hit it off with anyone without creating awkward situations to cringe about before sleep for the rest of your life.
For example, I’m still friends with a girl I met in the bathroom of a horrendous pub in Leicester—she had toilet paper stuck to her shoe and I laughed at it because I’m a bit of a dick. We ended up drinking tequila until sometime the next day. Sometimes it’s that easy. If you act and look* approachable, most people are quite easy to chat to—and keep chatting to.
Know your lines, though. Some good examples of conversation starters:
- “I like your shoes, where did you get them from?”
- “You have a (insert company here) sticker/shirt—I work there/use it, too!”
- “I love that book! What do you think about it so far?”
And some bad ones:
- “How about that (insert politician’s name here) person? What a douche weasel, right?”
- “Could you take a look at that weird rash on my left butt cheek?”
- “Snape kills Dumbledore.”
*So sorry for all the people who suffer from resting bitch face. I feel your pain.
Get out of the house
Unless you’re planning on becoming BFF’s with the pizza delivery guy, you need to go outside. The grocery store doesn’t count.
One of the best places for me to meet people have been coffee shops. When I was in London, I used to work out of a great coffee shop near Tech City (Fix Coffee, if you want to check it out), and got talking to a lot of startup people, most of whom I still talk to now. Keep in mind though that a lot of people working in any other public place actually do want to work, period. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone doesn’t want to be talked to—leave them be.
These spaces are pretty much built specifically for networking as well as being productive, so if you have the chance to use one, do it. There’s even a global coworking map for finding them.
Not that many events that you’d like to attend? Make your own. We had a Teleport Lisbon meetup recently—basically we just had some drinks with our users. We still go out for a beer with some of them every now and then—mission accomplished!
Pro tip: don’t be afraid to go and do stuff alone. There’s still a lot of people who think certain things—going to the movies, having lunch, going sightseeing, etc—are “weird” to do alone and that whoever is doing it must be a sad hermit with no friends.
It’s a heck of a lot weirder that these people go out and judge others for who they’re with or not with instead of minding their own beeswax and having fun. Screw the social prejudice police, you do you.
Use your hobbies
This is great for people who just aren’t naturally outgoing, or even have social anxiety to some degree, and just don’t feel right starting random conversations with random people. I know it can be super scary.
I had it easy when it comes to this—I used to do stand-up comedy, which is a fast track to meeting new people. Most of my friends to this day are comedians. A strong shared interest is the best growing ground for great relationships. In our case it was love for telling lame poop jokes on stage to hundreds of people.
Find yourpoop jokes—take a pottery class, join a yoga group or a Twilight fan club, whatever floats your boat. If you become a part of a group that enjoys the same things as you do, you’ll be surrounded by a topic you’re interested in, and you’ll probably feel more at ease. Having common ground by default is the least awkward way to strike up a conversation.
If you’re worried about cost management, many cities have free courses, clubs and activities as well as paid ones—for example, some universities have extra-curricular things that anyone can join—so do some research and dive in.
The wonderful world of technology
Tinder. Hear me out. They have a new feature called Tinder Social, a platform that helps you meet up with new people alongside your friends. Basically, you can swipe right on other groups of friends who are going out near you.
There are tons of other apps that help you connect with people besides Tinder. Business Insider has a list of 15 of them, for example. It’s also worth taking a look at some communities for move-y people, for example, Couchsurfing has a pretty good amount of active people on the forums, etc.
If you do decide to use an app or the internet in general to meet new people, keep the basics in mind for your own safety. —meeting in public places, not giving away too much personal information, etc.
I’m not your mom, but still—stay safe!*
*Staying safe also entails telling your SO about Social before you randomly download Tinder.
Don’t push it
There’s nothing worse than someone who comes off too desperate when trying to connect. Some people just aren’t interested, and pushing for conversation is not going to help. If it’s not rolling, let it go.
Don’t be that person. I mean, it’s an effective technique, but will also land you in the looney bin.
Reconsider your location
If nothing is working, you don’t feel connected to the community, can’t find interesting things to do or people to meet—maybe you’re simply not in the right place? Cities are as different as people are, and some locations might just not be your match, whether the fault is cultural, environmental or something else.
Teleport Cities helps you find your best place to be—based on your own personal preferences. Feel free to go and play around with the data layers to make sure that you’re in a place that suits you, and if not, well… free people move.
Elen Veenpere is part of the Teleport team, spending most of her time writing all kinds of content for everything Teleport. When she’s not busy typing, she likes to travel around, tell jokes on stage and drink insane amounts of coffee. Currently in Lisbon.