3 Ways to Make Friends in a New City

Sophia Upshaw
The Good Graduate
Published in
6 min readNov 17, 2019


Making friends in a new city is challenging, but it pays off with new adventures, stronger relationships, and a step closer to calling your city home.

When I first moved to Atlanta, I was caught up in the whirlwind of settling in to my first apartment, getting to know the area, and not to mention the craziness of orientation week for my PhD program!

Once the dust had settled, I realized that I felt horribly alone.

One would think that because I’d just started school that it was the perfect opportunity to develop new friendships. In my case, it wasn’t.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my best friends back home, my family who I’d lived with during college, and even the new friends I’d made over the summer before moving.

I missed my old relationships dearly and was thoroughly convinced that any new ones in this city could never measure up.

The first month or two of being here, I struggled with relocation depression for the first time in my life.

I isolated myself more, choosing to stay inside my apartment on the weekends instead of showing up to the group hangouts organized by other students in my program.

Even as I learned several faces and names at orientation, I felt myself holding them at arms length.

Reflecting on how I felt during those early days, I think that fear was the most likely culprit. What was I afraid of, you ask?

Afraid of being uncomfortable. Afraid of being vulnerable. Afraid to start something new.

It wasn’t easy to get over this fear. I’m still working through it now (3 months in)!

But I’m happy to say now that I’ve grown to the point where I’m more welcoming of people coming into my life. The friends I’ve made since I moved here have significantly shaped how I’ve viewed my transition to Atlanta.

Below, I’ve shared some tips that I’ve used to make friends in a new city! Whether you’ve just moved to a metropolitan area like I have, just started college, or transitioned to a new job, these are all relevant.

Take advantage of social media.

Out of the hundreds of followers you have on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, a large percentage of them are probably not your friends.

But what if they could be?

Trust me, I know it sounds scary (and slightly sketchy) but it is possible for your online “friends” to become your friends in real life.

Two weeks after I moved to Atlanta, I saw that one of my favorite Instagram influencers whose also a Rent the Runway Campus Rep had taken a picture at a popular shopping center nearby. I commented on her post and she DM’d me saying she had just moved to Atlanta to start her first post-grad job.

What started as a brief comment on Instagram led to our first hangout!

Yes, it can be awkward the first time you meet someone in person who you’ve only known on social media. It may feel like a first date. Since the extent of knowledge you have of someone on social media comes from tweets, pictures, and funny videos, there’s a lot of questions to ask!

Maybe discuss the reasons why you both moved to the same city, how much you like your coworkers, or about where you both see your careers in the next year.

The true friendship comes from finding what you have in common, sharing your dreams and aspirations, and of course, eating some BOMB FOOD.

Gloria and I made started going on bi-monthly adventures where we check out new restaurants in the city. We’ve met each other’s mutual friends, had nights where we stay in and watch Netflix movies, and impromptu photoshoots for Instagram.

Going out on a limb and making friends in a new city from social media may seem scary. But from my own personal experience, I’ve found it to be a risk that’s worth taking!

Join a group that you share common interests with.

Back in college, I was the kind of student who would join any and every club at the beginning of the semester.

I dabbled in Young Democrats and Republicans, attended events hosted by the Filipino student association, and even joined a race-car building team.

The ones I sticked with throughout the year were the ones where I developed life-long relationships. This same kind of approach can be applied to making friends in a new city.

Atlanta had so much to offer that I was overwhelmed at first. From cooking classes to running clubs, I had no idea where to start.

But just like undergrad, I let my own interests lead me to the groups where I belonged.

Since moving to Atlanta, I joined a church that’s very similar to my church back home in Virginia. I found friends that were my age, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and interested in growing in their faith like I am.

For you, this might look like joining a local mosque, synagogue, or church. Or perhaps joining a CrossFit gym, bootcamp class, or salsa dancing club.

Whatever your interests are, there’s bound to be a community that exists for it! You could be a simple Google search away from finding friends who are down to bond over wine and reading New York Times bestsellers.

Use dating apps

Dating apps like Tinder or Bumble are actually great platforms to get to know others in your immediate vicinity.

Some apps like Bumble even have a mode where you can swipe to find your next best friend. I haven’t tried Bumble BFF for myself yet, but there are some really good articles out there about other’s experience on the app. Try this one, titled “ What It’s Like to Make a Friend on Bumble BFF.”

After I had gone through a painful long-distance breakup, I found myself wanting a clean slate to click with someone new.

I jumped on Tinder, crafted a particularly wholesome-looking profile, and started swiping. At the time, I did feel sort of superficial swiping left and right on men solely based on their physical appearance.

But eventually, I learned that I could scroll down and view their bios to see what they were looking for on the app.

Some were looking for one-night stands. Others were hard-pressed to find their wives. The ones I typically swiped right on where those who were just looking for someone to vibe with.

Initially, I found myself chatting to several men throughout the day, warding off romantic advances, and making casual conversation.

I never hesitated to unmatch with people who I thought were looking for more than what I was looking for. In the end, I narrowed down my communications to those who I could eventually see myself meeting up with in the future.

Not for a date, but to hang out as friends.

Some quick tips for anyone who wants to make friends in a new city over dating apps:

  • Don’t move too quickly from chatting to meeting in person!
  • If meeting for the first time, meet in a public place during the day.
  • Don’t reveal too much of your private information too soon.
  • Make your intentions clear from the beginning!
  • Saying “just looking for new friends” in your bio.

This approach is a lot more bold but equally exciting. I felt a lot more confident in my own ability to make friends after spending a week on a dating app.

I still occasionally text with the friends I made on Tinder. It’s going to take a big step to meet them in person, but I’m not rushing it.

Friendship should be natural, long-lasting, and mutually beneficial. Whether you decide to DM someone on Twitter, join a yoga class downtown, or hop on Bumble BFF, I firmly believe that anyone can make new friends in whatever location and at every stage in life.

Feel free to comment below on ways that you make friends in a new city or whether you tried any of the tips above!

Originally published at https://thegoodgraduate.com on November 17, 2019.



Sophia Upshaw
The Good Graduate

I’m a WFH technical writer based in Chicago and I occasionally write about the kind of stuff about adulthood you don’t learn in school.