• Making Friends

To make friends after moving, you may have to make the first move

Published: October 22, 2013 | Last Updated: June 15, 2015 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
Ali Wenzke

Alexandra Wenzke

Moving is hard work. It’s stressful and often accompanied by other stressful life events:  a new baby, marriage, divorce, a new job, or retirement. Last year, more than 7 million people in the U.S. moved to a different state. Many times people move without knowing anyone on the other end. So, how do you start building a new set of friends?

My husband and I moved ten times in eleven years. Some moves meant a different neighborhood within our same city. Other moves required relocating across the country (seven states in all). Regardless of the distance, we always started over with new schools, new jobs, and new communities.

Our most difficult moving experience? Moving to a close-knit community. I tried many ways to meet new friends. I smiled. I introduced myself. I took adult education classes at the local university. I took classes with my children to meet other moms. I volunteered for a local organization. I eventually made friends, but it required a great deal of effort and patience.

After trying many ways to meet new friends, I decided to make small talk with everyone I met.  I felt I had nothing to lose. Small talk doesn’t come naturally to me, but I worked hard at it. I no longer worry if talking about the weather is too dull a topic. It works. Repeated small talk usually leads to longer conversations that can evolve into friendships. It doesn’t work with everyone but if you keep at it, you are certain to click with someone.

One day I went to the zoo with my kids. I saw another mom who she seemed like someone I would like to get to know better.

“What a beautiful fall day!” I said. I introduced myself and asked her about her kids. We chatted for a while and she told me she recently moved to the area.

“Would you like to get together for coffee one day?” I asked. She agreed and we did get together! Our friendship began from a chance encounter and our small talk at the zoo.

One reason it’s hard to make friends after moving is because you don’t know who else is looking to make new friends. When you move to a new city, go out and have fun. Sign up for a class to meet other people who share your interests. Volunteer in the community.

Most importantly, though, you need to make the first move. Introduce yourself to others with a smile. Ask for local recommendations to make small talk. If small talk feels uncomfortable, start with the weather. Practice with people you encounter at the grocery or at work. Eventually it gets easier.

*Alexandra Wenzke is the president and founder of Friendmatchup.com,* a company she started to help people connect when they move to a new city. You fill out an online form that asks about your hobbies and interests. Then, they’ll connect you with people in the area who would make a good friend match for you. Once you both accept the friendship, you can choose to meet at a local coffee shop or at a park to walk your dogs.

New on the Block:

Based in Chicago, Friend Matchup* launched in that area in September. People in thirteen different states have already signed up. If you are interested in meeting new friends in your area, simply fill out the online questionnaire on that site. Alexandra says that Friendmatchup.com will provide early subscribers with a free membership when they launch in your city.


*Unfortunately, last time I looked, Friend Matchup was offline.

Previously on The Friendship Blog:

Making New Platonic Friends Online 

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Category: MAKING FRIENDS, Where to meet friends

Comments (7)

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  1. Metamorphosis says:

    Just want to say thanks you to the author of this article and to Dr. Irene. I re-read it a few times and put into practice making the first move. It wasn’t so bad. In fact when I left my apartment a lady (whom I had initiated chit chat with in the elevator) and I both looked in the direction of the front desk clerk. The front desk clerk was looking down so I wasn’t sure if I should initiate the first hello or not. Whereas, the lady in the elevator just called out a cheery hello. That inspired me so now I call out hello first even if the person seems distracted.

  2. Don says:

    Hi Everyone,
    I never had the loneliness issue’s. I lost wife 7 years ago to cancer, and have been out of a relationship of 4 years. I have always taken life for what it is. To enjoy and be helpful. I alway looked at life as an adventure. Up’s and Down’s but always made the best if every life situation. Always happy ….. Being happy is something that one has to focus on with self and in a relationship. This I believe is the key… Or at least, for me. So, if you want to be happy…. Write me…. Happiness is contagious!

  3. Tara says:

    Hi Guys,
    I don’t have an issue with approaching people and talking to them ending up in phone number exchange – I have a problem with the next phase. I never end up calling people as everytime we are doing something I cant jsutify it being interesting enough to invite others and so I put off contact until it has been months at which point I always feel like ho do I now approach this person.

    I find it a very lonely life as I have no close friends at all – although I do have an old friend who lives in a different country who I am close to and we chat regularly.

    Please repky if you have been in similar sitautions that you have managed to turn around as I am desperate for company and girl talk.

  4. Baby says:

    I wanted to make both male and female friends to exchange views and ideas and I hope I will get good friends.

  5. Ken says:

    I agree that making the first move is probably the most important step towards making friends in a new area and I do like the tips on where you could (potentially) find new friends.
    The alternative, i.e not taking the first step, seems like you’re just waiting for someone to fall into your life…

  6. Kacie says:

    Small talk is pretty easy IF people are receptive.

    One day my husband and I were out to lunch at our favorite little local fish and chips restaurant. It was packed. The news was playing on the TV, and there were two older men (60’s probably) sitting next to us who were coworkers. The four of us started talking about every topic on the news! And even a little about ourselves. It was a fun time.

    I find that women are a lot less receptive to small talk. I used to be that way when I was younger, because I went through a very shy phase when I was 18-20. People would try to make small talk with me and I’d be like “Uh, okay. Yeah.” I’d answer questions but wouldn’t know how to contribute.

    Now that I’m older, I’m the one initiating small talk with people. Generally cashiers or waiters or waitresses. I’ve tried to do this with people like me (other army wives) but they just seem to have a wall up. I really want to make new friends. How do you turn small talk into a friendship??

  7. Sheryl says:

    I agree that you have to many times make the first move. It’s hard at time but once you break down the barrier, making friends gets easy.And usually, the other person is relieved, since THEY didn’t have to do it themselves.

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