Let’s be honest. Once you leave behind high school and university, it can be a struggle to make friends. As an introvert, I’ve always found it difficult; preferring to stay at home than put myself out there and meet new people. It doesn’t matter if I am living in my hometown or across the world in Canada, I have always found it difficult to make new friends throughout my 20s.
That being said, today I do have some amazing friends spread across the world and Australia. It was also easier moving back to Melbourne knowing I still had friends here. Since being back in Melbourne, I’ve made an effort to try and make new friends too.
So if you’re also struggling to make friends in new cities or your hometown, we’re here to help. I’ve asked some fellow travel bloggers and expats to share how they’ve also met people abroad: from the UK to Asia to Australia. I know it can take guts to step completely out of your comfort zone to meet new people, but it’s always worthwhile. Trust me!
Ashley from Ashley Wanders
“When I lived abroad in Edinburgh, I met a bunch of lovely people through Girl Gone International, which is a community of female travel lovers who are living, working or studying abroad. They organize regular meetups in more than 100 cities around the world, so I’d highly recommend checking out their website to see if there’s a group near you. I also ended up connecting with two expats through Instagram, so don’t discount the power of social media when it comes to making new friends!”
Beth from Gingersnap Travels
“One thing that I found during my time in London, and that many of my expat friends agree upon, is that expats are mostly friends with other expats. I would say for my entire first year in London, all of my friends were either Canadians or Aussies. Part of this was because I was part of a social group called Britbound, geared toward expats who have recently moved to London.
Britbound was a great way to meet people when I first moved to London and didn’t know anybody! There were loads of people who were all in the same boat and eager to make new friends. Work is also a good place to meet people, as you will inevitably be spending lots of time with your colleagues. is a website where you can attend various social events based on your interests. They have everything from badminton games to yoga classes to picnics in the park and much much more! I attended a couple of Meetup events and met some very nice people.
Another great way to meet people is to join some sort of extra curricular activity. I joined a choir in London, which ended up being one of the best decisions I made during my two years in London! Not only was it incredibly fun, but I made some really awesome choir friends. There are so many people in London that it is virtually impossible NOT to meet people! Just be sure to put yourself out there!”
Justine from Travel Lush
“Making friends while living abroad is definitely a challenge. At least it has been for me! Because I’ve moved four times in the past four years, it’s been especially tough to make lasting friendships with people. And because I tend to be on the introverted side, I’m not the best at putting myself out there. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it to be really awkward! That being said, I have managed to meet some incredible people during this expat journey of mine and form very real friendships along the way.
Believe it or not, I’ve made so many connections through my blog. I make a habit of reaching out to fellow expat bloggers whenever I move to a new city. Travel bloggers are a friendly bunch and I’ve made lasting friendships with many fellow bloggers in each and every city I’ve lived in. Plus, people often contact me through my blog and ask to meet up. It’s been such a great way to meet new people and make friends!”
Vita from My Walk in the World
“Moving to a new place can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a support system in the form of friends. Living in Brisbane for the past two years has opened up so many new opportunities and relationships I never could have imagined. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that if you are seeking friendships you need to be proactive and patient. I usually look for events on Eventbrite, Meetup or Facebook. Usually you can also meet people in classes you enjoy — like yoga, dance or pottery.
After the first time I meet someone I usually like to follow up with something we talked about to keep the conversation going. In a week or two, I usually try set up another meeting (or earlier if you feel like they would be up for it). As you build that trust and friendship, I find you end up inviting each other out or plan to do things together more and more.
A great way to meet others is also through mutual friends. Although that can be difficult, it only takes one connection! A friend notified me that her friend from college just moved to Brisbane, so I reached out to her for coffee. We ended up meeting for coffee, had a great chat, parted ways but then the same day she invited me for drinks with her roommate and we’ve been great friends ever since! It was an unexpected friendship, but some of the best ways I’ve forged relationships have come about in similar, unpredictable ways.”
My experience: how to make friends in Australia and abroad
Fortunately, I’ve spent a lot of my 20s working part-time in hospitality, which is an industry dominated by the younger generation. In Vancouver, I found a job and the best bunch of friends at Starbucks. The team was so welcoming and we regularly met up outside of work. During my second working holiday, we picked up right where we left off and it was the best. I also met most of my friends in Melbourne through working at Hudsons Coffee.
I put a call out on Instagram in March to see if a) people had recommendations on how to make friends, and b) if anyone in Melbourne wanted to hang out. Two people got in touch through the awesome travel engagement hashtag, #teamkaptainkenny, and we had a meetup last month in Fitzroy. I actually wasn’t even nervous beforehand, which is unusual for me. But it was effortless and I hope to catch up with them again soon. Social media is a wonderful way to meet people, even if the algorithm is a constant headache!
As mentioned previously, Meetup is a fantastic website. There are hundreds of groups and meetups happening regularly around the world. When I first moved to Vancouver, I found an Australian expats group, who were meeting up at the city’s Aussie pub to watch the State of Origin. If it wasn’t for attending that event, there’s no way I would have met Kate, who was my Vancouver partner-in-crime. We have also met up in places like Sydney (her home), Melbourne (my home), San Fran, Portland and Brisbane together. That meetup has now become a Facebook group, which leads me to my next point.
Just like Meetup, there seems to be a Facebook group for everything. I have recently joined a couple connected to podcasts I love, and I will be meeting up with some girls in Melbourne soon through this random means. But as previously mentioned, there’s an Aussies in Vancouver Facebook group too. So if you’re an expat looking to make friends with people in a similar situation, do a quick Facebook search and see what happens. I find small group events are less nerve-wracking for me.
Thanks again to the bloggers who contributed to this post on making friends in new cities. If you have any other recommendations on how to make friends, please share them in the comments below! We’d love to hear them.
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