It is understandable to feel isolated and alone after an international move.  You have just moved across the world to a new community and city, where you may not know a single person.  Additionally, the foreign language, unfamiliar culture, and environment can leave you feeling cut off and lonely.

However, once you move abroad, meeting people, building relationships, and making friends is arguably the most important part of integrating into your community and creating a new life. Relationships are extremely meaningful to feeling a sense of well-being, increasing our physical and mental health, and creating happiness.   

Additionally, making friends and new connections helps us assimilate into our new culture, teaches us about our environment, and exposes us to people and places that we may not otherwise have come to know.  Traveling and moving internationally is about connecting with people around the world, and meeting new and different people.  The experience of bonding with others deepens and expands you as a person, as well as your worldview.

Making friends and meeting new people is one of the best things about moving abroad.  It has been meaningful for our entire family to spend time with new people from all over the world, and learn about their reality and life experience.  When meeting people from different cultures you learn more about yourself as a person, and it illuminates parts of your native country not previously understood as well.  It allows you to appreciate the variety and diversity of people, while also appreciating how similar we are and how much we have in common!

While feeling alone and displaced following a big move is to be expected, I can very honestly and enthusiastically say that moving abroad creates significant opportunities that you just don’t have while living in the same location.  These new experiences allow you to meet a wide variety of interesting people, as well as, some of the most lasting and meaningful friendships you may ever have. 

Here are some tips and tricks we have learned about how to build a network, develop a community, and make lasting friendships after you move abroad. 

1. Start with Your Hobbies and Interests

Start with Your Hobbies and Interests

There are countless ways to meet people after you move abroad.  Regardless of the size or population of your new location, every community will have a variety of options and resources to connect with new people.  

Here are some of the best ways to meet new people and begin building your community…

Volunteering

Volunteering provides one of the best ways to get to know not only new people but your new community as well.  There are opportunities in every field to volunteer, ranging from environmental to educational organizations. Just this year our teenage daughter volunteered at a local preschool teaching English and met incredible people while practicing her language skills.  As a family, we have met dozens of wonderful, like-minded people while volunteering building houses, cleaning up beaches, and working in community kitchens.  All of this has simultaneously helped us to explore our new environment.

Joining Clubs

This is one of the best ways to meet people who share an interest in something you love or to try something you have always wanted to pursue. Meeting people who are engaged in a similar passion is a fantastic way to have fun, learn something new, and spend time with people who are curious and interested in the same activities. These groups meet regularly and provide a consistent built-in community of people to engage with. There are book clubs, hiking groups, wine-tasting clubs, and art and music groups to name just a few.

Local Events and Workshops

Coffee shops, community centers, and newspapers offer flyers and handouts about local events and workshops in your community. Just down the street from us, there are numerous shops and a community center that dispenses handouts for local events and meetups, ranging from yoga and cooking classes to health workshops. Additionally, every week our local paper has dozens of local happenings ranging from discussions with local authors to festivals and activities around town. Most of these are offered at no cost and are open to the public.

2. Connect with Coworkers and Neighbors

Connect with Coworkers and Neighbors

Workplace

If you have a job in your new community, be sure to take advantage of getting to know and becoming familiar with your fellow employees. It can be easy to take a walk during lunch together, have a drink after work, or just strike up an engaging conversation about their experience and knowledge of your new town. Furthermore, many businesses offer social gatherings for employees that allow you to connect while not being at work.

Neighborhoods

Your new neighborhood is a natural and easy way to start building a community. There are playgrounds, local gyms and community centers in most locations. We socialize with our new neighbors while the kids have a chance to play, which is an easy way to create a sense of community.

A gathering at your home, local beach, or park is a great way to meet your neighbors as well. We live in a very international area and recently went to a potluck at our neighbor’s house where everyone had to bring a dish from their home country. It was a fun and engaging way to meet other expats, and we left the gathering knowing a dozen new neighbors! Additionally, in most neighborhoods, you can find tennis, pickleball, and football fields to play and socialize with neighbors as well.

Schools

Educational institutions are a wonderful place to meet people. If you are an adult, you can sign up for a single class at the community college, adult learning center, or university. If you have kids enrolled in school, you can reach out to other parents and have a coffee date while the kids play. I connected with another school mom who wanted to brush up on her English, while I practiced Spanish and it was a great and comfortable way for both of us to practice a new language.

Kids make friends so easily, and it is heartening to see how effortlessly they form new connections. Within the first two months of school, our son had made many new friends. In fact, within three months of moving, he had a birthday party with a dozen kids from five countries, speaking several different languages!

As adults, we have a lot to learn from children about how to stay open-minded to new connections and friendships!

3. Utilize Social Media and Apps

Utilize Social Media and Apps

Social Media platforms are an incredibly user-friendly and easy way to connect with a wide variety of people in your new community. In full disclosure, I did not have social media before we moved abroad, but heard how useful it could be after an international move. I eventually created an account and honestly, I can’t believe how tremendously useful and helpful it has been. The resources below have online groups and forums that crowdsource the best information for individuals new to a community and country. I use the online communities to ask questions and find resources weekly!

Facebook: The community forums and groups on Facebook have been a game-changer for us. We have joined groups for expats and new families that have provided an invaluable resource for things ranging from how to find a great pediatrician, to finding language tutors and advice on housing. We arranged playdates with other families new to town through Facebook, which was useful in aiding them to form connections and connect with peers. Our kids made friends before school even started with children going to the same new school, and it allowed them to not only start with some familiar faces, but these kids have proven to be some of their closest friends since moving.

Meetup: Meetup is a platform for connecting people while building local communities and gatherings. Meetup is an extensive and very helpful platform that has a wide variety of people and groups looking to connect. There are local people continually creating groups related to their passion, ranging from pet playdates to wine-tasting and hiking groups. You can also create your own group related to your passion or interest.

InterNations: This is another app and social networking platform exclusively for expats and those who have moved abroad. They have an extremely active community in 400+ cities around the world. They introduce you to a local member when you sign up, who reaches out directly and allows for an immediate personal connection. It is composed of a group of people who have also relocated and are looking to connect and have a similar mindset. There is a wide variety of activities and events with other global-minded people, and it is a very supportive and engaging community.

4. Take Classes or Learn a New Skill

Take Classes or Learn a New Skill

Some additional ways to meet people are below…

Workshops and Classes: There are classes and workshops ranging in interest and topics that you can find in the local paper, online, or community forums. I attended an amazing workshop by a nutritionist where I met a great group of women with similar interests. We have also tried several cooking and art classes where we learned so much from the locals about the history, the best places to eat and shop, and a variety of secrets that can only be gleaned from a local.

Gyms and Fitness Classes: This is not only a great way to stay healthy, but to meet people and connect with your community in a really fun way. We have joined several gyms and attended boxing and martial arts classes, as well as tennis and horseback riding groups. In every single one of these settings, we have made friendships that extend beyond the class. Our fourteen-year-old meets her friends for a trail ride with friends she made at her class, while our youngest walks down the street to play tennis with the other students in his tennis clinic. Another benefit of these classes is we get to practice our language skills while being instructed in the native language!

Language Courses: Language courses are a natural way to connect with new people because you are likely interacting with other newcomers and people in your same position. The majority of the people we know who relocated from abroad started language classes right away. They attend the language class and almost always head out for coffee or cocktails following the lesson to brush up on their skills with their classmates!

5. Be Open-Minded and Confident

Be Open-Minded and Confident

Perhaps the most critical factor when trying to meet new friends and build a community after you move abroad is your attitude and approach. It is important to keep an open mind and heart when connecting with new people. Furthermore, you need to take the initiative, and reach out and initiate a connection even if it feels a bit uncomfortable.

I always suggest putting yourself out there, trying as many new things as possible, and meeting a variety of people when you first land in a new community. Over time, you can make edits and turn your attention to the activities and people where there is a natural connection. If you are introverted, you can eventually start to focus on quality over quantity. Likewise, if you prefer larger social networks, you can choose to have a wider selection of people and activities to choose from.

Ensure you are aware of what you would like to interact and engage with as well! Pay attention to your own communication, energy, and the type of friend you are to people. It is important to show sincere regard and curiosity for others and to make an effort and take an active role in forging new relationships.

When you move abroad and are forming new friendships and connections, it might require pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. However, moving through that discomfort can create incredible opportunities to find new interests, passions, and people in your new life. Encouraging yourself to grow and stretch is also one of the most valuable parts of moving abroad and creating a new life.

Over time, and through trial and error, you will build your self-esteem and confidence and will develop lasting connections and a supportive community.

If you’re getting ready to move but find yourself short on cash, be sure to explore our blog on how to relocate to another country with limited funds!

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are countless ways to connect and meet people – regardless of if you are single, in a relationship, or family. You can find creative or outdoor opportunities, as well as arts and professional experiences. Meeting people has never been easier through social media, forums, expat communities, clubs, and classes. Keep an open mind to meeting other expats as well as locals, as you will find advantages to all types of people in your new home.

Making these connections, trying new things, learning, and growing is paramount to making the most of your move abroad and enriching your life.

There is such a passionate and engaged global community looking to connect and meet new people just like you are. Quite frankly, the problem has not been how to meet people after our international move, but rather how to fit in all the new activities and social connections. It has been a very rewarding part of our international move.

I can’t wait to hear about all the ways you meet new people and find meaningful and lasting connections!

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