How to Make Friends in a New City

Making friends as an adult is scary enough. But one of the most daunting parts of moving to a new city isn’t finding the perfect apartment, but finding new friends. As I started to think about various ways I’ve made friends in Nairobi, I thought I’d ask the Instagram crew for their best advice on how to make friends in a new city. Here are some of my favorite suggestions!

Make Friends Based on Mutual Interests

Whether at a house of worship, a dance class, or a book club, as you pursue things that you’re passionate about, you can often find people who share your similar interests. If no such group exists, don’t hesitate starting your own!

“Find activities you enjoy doing and go to them and mingle with people” – @masimasi19

“Join a young people’s group at church!” – @hotdamnitsfran

“Look for events or activities you have an interest in and buy tickets and attend. Make conversation.” – @melissamagagula

“Sign up to learn something fun and speak up during the class.” – @bluey702

“Join a social activity group like gym class, church  group, and meet and greet events.” – @theladybugbee

“Start a Facebook group and organize meetups. That’s what I did :)” – @midwestlolita

“I go to talks. Typically I connect with people with similar interests.” – @simone.sullivan

“Join internations, join a new club, attend events aligned with your interests.” – @e_vaati

Use Your Network

We often forget that networking is not only useful when you’re looking for a new job, but also when you’re looking for friends. Use your networks – your school alumni directory, friends of friends, social media, etc – to find friends in a new city. 

“Eventbrite – check for events or gatherings” – @steph.niee

“Take a leap of faith and dm/reach out to people I follow who live in said city” – @ladanoutloud

“Hang out with your in-laws and make friends with their friends” – @lucyamkoa

“Def recommend Bumble BFF. Everyone I’ve chatted with is super nice and helpful so far.” – @watch_thecrown

“Friends of friends of friends!” – @rachellenette

“Social media is a great platform. If you were already in touch online, reach out if you feel their energy.” – @justmargie_

Compliment a Stranger

For the boldest among you, sometimes just saying hi to a stranger can earn you a new friend! 

“I’ve had luck at the park, taking walks and at the local shops.” – @notorious_liv

“Smile. It’s infectious and inviting. Easy to start a conversation.” – @nyatichiee

“Talk to people at the salon!” – @doosh_do

“Chat up friendly looking strangers by giving them a compliment and asking a question.” – @omolayonkem

P.S. How to Go From Stranger to Friend

Once you’ve actually identified someone you think might be a good friend, take the relationship slow just like you would if you were dating. If messaging someone on social media, don’t just say “hi, we should be friends.” Imagine is someone came up to you and said hi, we should date! ? Introduce yourself and establish some commonality – maybe you both like classic movies or 90s R&B or have similar careers. It’s more likely that someone will be eager to respond to your friendship initiative if it doesn’t feel forced and desperate, so hang out over coffee first before inviting them to a 3 day long girls weekend. 

Any other tips for making friends in a new city? Please share them below!

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  1. I’m in the same situation 🙂
    I just found your channel while searching for tips since my husband and I are moving to Nairobi on Oct 1st for an indefinite time.
    My work is online so I’ll not be meeting any new people naturally and I’m hopeful to find some creative and inspiring people to hang out with.
    I found your post here very insightful and I agree, it’s more important to find good friends than finding a good place to live 😉
    Maybe our paths will cross in the city – good luck you!

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