• Making Friends

It pays to make friends before a move

Published: October 26, 2016 | Last Updated: December 13, 2016 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

It’s easier to make friends before a move, says guest contributor Ali Wenzke.

Making friends in a new city can be tough, but you can get a jump start by being proactive. You may think, “I’ll focus on making friends once I get there.” That’s the same mistake I made when I moved from Chicago, IL to Knoxville, TN. I thought it would be easy to make new friends. I was wrong. After ten moves in eleven years, I’ve learned that it pays to reach out to people before you move.

Five ways to make friends before a move

1- Reach out to people you know

If you plan to move, ask your family and friends if they know someone in the city where you will be moving. It doesn’t matter whether that other person is older than you, younger, single or married. Your friend’s contact doesn’t need to become your best friend. However, this person can introduce you to other people in town. At a minimum, you’ll gain some insider knowledge of your new city.

2- Reach out to people you don’t know

Tell anyone who will listen that you’re moving to San Francisco or Denver. A friend of mine, Ava, mentioned she was moving to a woman at a dog park. It turned out this stranger knew Ava’s new neighborhood and had a friend who lived there. The woman connected them and she turned out to be a great resource for Ava. You never know where connections will be made. This is also a good excuse to practice your small talk skills since you’ll be using them all the time after the move.

3- Follow up and make connections

If friends, families, or strangers give you someone’s contact information, please reach out to that person. They’ll be expecting your call or email, so remember to follow up. Send an email that says:

“Hi, Jen! 

Brenda Arlenson gave me your contact information because I’m moving to Boise next month. I wanted to introduce myself and I was wondering if you could give me some advice. Do you know of the best _____ [pick one: neighborhoods for families, places to live with short commutes downtown, realtors, preschools, teenage hangouts, etc.]? Thank you so much for your help. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Best, Ali”

As you can see, making connections can be useful for many logistical questions. When that person turns out to be a friend, you’ve hit the jackpot.

4- Create a community through social media

Moving to a new city can feel lonely. You leave your social network behind and need to start over. That’s not the case with your social media friends. If you’re not on social media yet, consider giving it a try. I’ve made friends on Instagram from all over the world who share my interests in reading, writing, and running. It doesn’t matter where I move, because all of those friends are still a click away. Interacting with strangers online seemed foreign to me a year ago, but now I appreciate the unique communities that exist on sites like Instagram and Twitter. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

5- Sign up for activities before moving day

I recently interviewed Rebecca Conway who was leaving Chicago for Cleveland. While her husband and daughter were set up with school and work, Rebecca hadn’t thought of herself yet. Rebecca explained, “That’s in the future. We’re just worried about getting there, taking care of here and getting all through that. I can’t even think six months down the road. I can’t see it.” Many of us feel the way Rebecca feels. We worry about getting everyone else settled in before we think of our own needs. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and sign up for activities before you move. Getting involved in an activity, whether it’s an adult class, a sports team, or a religious organization, is a great way to meet other people. Don’t wait six months to look for options. You will need a social network for your own sanity.

Don’t Wait Until After Your Move

You should try to make friends before moving because it can be hard to meet people in a new town. In my experience, it’s easier to make the jump from one friend to two friends than it is to go from no friends to one friend. Even if the connection you’ve made before your move only turns out to be an acquaintance, that person can introduce you to other people. Once you know one person and you’re introduced to someone else, the circle continues to grow. As with any attempts to make new friends, realize that it does take time. It doesn’t hurt to get the clock started before you get to your new city.

Ali Wenzke, moving expert, moved with her husband ten times in eleven years. Ali blogs at The Art of Happy Moving to help others with moving, making new friends, and living happily ever after.

Ali Wenzke

Ali Wenzke

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Comments (7)

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  1. Louise says:

    I moved to a new town and had a good friend who already lived there. Before I moved she said she would help anyway she could once I relocated. I thought having a friend in the same town would definitely help me as I settled into life the town I relocated too. In the beginning it was hard, I was feeling isolated, getting a job was becoming difficult and my self confidence was down.
    I continually mentioned to this friend that i wanted to meet her friends and expand my social circle. She turned around and told me I was needy, draining and cut me out of her life.
    Not long after, I got a good job, my self confidence improved, I finally started to feel like my relocating was the right decision and I took it upon myself to meet new people.

    • Ali Wenzke says:

      Louise, I’m sorry that your move got off to a rocky start. When your self-confidence is low and you are feeling lonely, all you want to do is make new friends and feel good about things again. Asking a friend to introduce you to her friends can be tricky if it doesn’t occur naturally. I’m so happy to hear that you were able to make new friends on your own and that things got better once you found a new job. That’s wonderful that you took the initiative to meet new people without her help!

    • cts_casemod says:

      Ill agree with Ali post.

      Louise, I travel. Way too much. I Couchsurf or use AirBnB to get to know local people as they could be my number one source for information around the area.

      I also relocated for work/study purposes to a different country 3 times.

      What people going trough the same as you need to know is that most others are probably just as lonely as you. They have family and some local friends met at work/school {Insert your favorite here}. I would love to share life, go shopping, go to an event, but most people just don’t want that kind of relationship. Don’t feel bad, you’re the one trying to to something to improve your situation, not them.

  2. Sandra says:

    Lots of great tips here. Eight years ago, we bought a second home located on the other side of the state — three hours from our year-round home. We might end up retiring there, and in the meantime, we’ve made an effort to get to know our new community by getting involved in a couple of arts organizations there. One in particular has been a great place for meeting friends with common interests, and we feel that we are more “at home” there as we spend more time in this place.

    • Ali Wenzke says:

      Thank you, Sandra! What a great idea to make an effort to get to know your community before deciding to retire there. If you do decide to move there permanently, your new friendships will help make your transition a much happier one.

  3. Irene says:

    I would agree with the above. By getting to know someone via a friend they’ll already know something about you, where you come from and perhaps what you do and what your interests are. It’s so much easier to get to know people if you have shared interests. If you don’t have a hobby, try and get one. It’s amazing what good friendships can come from it.
    In Britain we have an organisation called the Women’s Institute. Women of all ages come to make or do things together, quite often for a charitable purpose. One young woman, new to the town, joined this group and got talking to another woman who shared a similar interest. They became quite friendly and the older woman invited the younger to visit her at home. The older woman’s nephew came by that day…and you’ve guessed the rest…they got married two years later.

    • Ali Wenzke says:

      The Women’s Institute sounds like a great place to meet new friends, Irene. I have found that doing community service together is one of the best ways to form true friendships. Not only do you share a hobby, but you share the same values – whether it’s helping animals, veterans, sick children, or whatever your cause may be. I love your story about the couple who met this way. You never know where or when you will meet someone!

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