Have you ever gone through a long-distance move? Did you end up leaving everything familiar to search for better opportunities and life in a new city? Welcome to the age of globalization! Packing up two suitcases and moving to different corners of the country (or the world for that matter) is not considered particularly special. In fact, it is a common practice for many including young professionals and immigrants. Backpackers and digital nomads build entire lifestyles around it.

Although usually career, quality of life, and a higher salary are the primary considerations for the move, one key aspect gets continuously overlooked: the social life. Do you actually know how to make friends in a new city without prior moving experience? Or even if you have moved before, did you end up successfully building a new social life?

In order to help you with your move and adjustment process, our team summarized some proven tips into a list. Making the first step is always difficult but once you get going, building your new social life will become a matter of weeks!

So here is a summary and review of the few approaches we discovered:

MeetUp Event Platform Logo

1. Join MeetUp

The ultimate “whatever you are interested in, there’s probably a group for it” event platform. You’ve heard of MeetUp, I’ve heard of MeetUp, almost everyone has heard about MeetUp. Have you actually ever used it though?

My experience with it has been a very definite hit or miss. From all of the MeetUps I have attended, the more friendly ones were the language exchanges and tech networking events. There are loads of group types to choose from. Examples include: social females in their 20s or 30s, barhopping, Friday casual drinks, board games, DIY… You name it! I remember the Anti-Social Social Club being a big one in Vancouver.

Although I haven’t really found groups I particularly click with, the larger scale events are definitely worth looking into. Might take a few for you to meet people you’re actually interested in being friends with but it’s a great opportunity to get out of the house and grab a couple of drinks! Definitely give them a shot.  

Man holding up business card at networking event

2. Attend Networking Events

Pick your sector, pick a related community, professional organization or platform, and sign-up for an event to meet professionals in your field! It’s true, networking events might seem exhausting at the beginning. Especially if you are not looking for a job, career switch, or professional help.

The good news is that many professionals attend these events to simply meet others similar to themselves. It’s a great opportunity to discuss the news and updates in your industry and make connections in different companies. A good chunk of the friends I made after moving came from the tech and general business networking events, and many of them weren’t even from my industry!

Examples of great networking events in Canada include TechToronto (TechVancouver for Vancouver, TechMontreal for Montreal), HackerNest, FU Nights (held in cities worldwide) and many more. A good place to start looking for these events is EventBrite.

InterNations expat community and event platform logo

3. Expat Life? Sign up for InterNations

For those of us switching countries, there is a platform that aims to bring all the expats together – InterNations. I found it to be the most useful in Bogota, Colombia. However, it comes with one downside: in order to get any practical use out of the platform you have to become a paid subscriber (at least once). Without being premium, you cannot join new groups in your area, you cannot select which events you want to attend (only certain general ones are open to the whole community), and you cannot message other users on the platform.

I used the premium version for a few months and did end up meeting a few interesting expats. However, I found the overall demographic to be significantly older (late 30s, 40s) and the platform price to be too high for the value I got out of it.

Overall, it’s a great way to get started when moving to a new country. A couple of months of the premium subscription would get you more than enough events and connections. 

Couchsurfing hospitality and backpacking community logo

4. Meet Local Couchsurfers

There is a common misconception that Couchsurfing is only for backpackers and well, couchsurfers – that’s not necessarily true. It does tend to attract the world wandering types but the community overall is about getting to know cultures, exploring, and having fun with new acquaintances. Their events are a wonderful place to start if you would like to meet new arrivals to the city and visitors. The groups are always guaranteed to be diverse and down for various activities!

It does take a few bigger social events and reaching out to individual people traveling to your area to form new connections. And it does also depends on how big or engaging the Couchsurfing community in your city is. I found it very welcoming in Vancouver but barely active in Calgary. I know they also support a live social feature for meeting up with local couchsurfers in your area at any time but I haven’t had any luck with using it.

People hanging out at a festival in a city

5. Swing by a Festival

Do you live in a big city? Is it festival season? Definitely make time to check a few out! And yes, it’s alright to go alone too. You can always make friends when you get there!

It’s always a bit scary to hit up crowded events all by yourself. Everything seems overwhelming and walking around large groups of people alone can make you feel self-conscious. However, dancing, grabbing food and drinks, and just exploring the festival gives you plenty of opportunities to get to know some of those groups! Even if you don’t end up making any new friends, you’ll definitely have a blast and gain a memorable experience. It’s a win-win.

For Toronto, BlogTO has a pretty comprehensive list of local festivals from 2019. I personally really enjoyed swinging by Salsa on St Clair.

6. Give Friend Apps a Shot

Most people still don’t consider mobile apps when they think about how to make friends in their 20s. In a way, these apps have a negative connotation like online dating had a few years back. They just haven’t yet been adopted as a common practice for building new friendships.

Regardless, there are a couple of existing friend app solutions out there. The current options do not boast high success rates but they can be useful for finding one or two new connections.

Some of the current solutions include:

Bumble dating app logo

Bumble BFF

The friend functionality comes as a part of the main Bumble dating app. A profile is simple to create and has a layout and structure similar to a dating profile. Within a few minutes you can get fully set up and start swiping on your potential new best friend.

A couple of things to keep in mind is that you can only use this app for same gender friendships (girls see girls, guys see guys) and you cannot have a Bumble BFF profile without being registered for the main Bumble app.  

My personal experience from using Bumble BFF in Vancouver is mostly a disappointment. Although I ended up messaging a few girls, we never met up. The conversations would just trail off. But I have heard of some people that actually ended up making a new friend or two.

Shapr networking app logo

Shapr

This app is primarily for networking. However, you can also indicate in your profile that you’re looking for new friendships and potentially find other interested young professionals around you.

I don’t think anybody is actively looking for friends through this app. Nor do I think it boasts high success rates of in-person interactions. But either way, networking is a good place to start expanding your social circles.

Image of soccer field

7. Sign Up for a Social Sports League

Most major cities have social sports leagues. Ever been interested in playing soccer, basketball, or any other multi person or team sport? Sign up for your local town/city sports leagues!

The games aren’t overly competitive or professional and it’s a great way to unwind after work. It’s also common to bond with your teammates and grab drinks after the game. A workout and going out combined!

If you’re living in Toronto, give its Sport and Social Club a shot.

Image of laptop and notebook in a class setting

8. Take Evening Classes

Ever wanted to learn a new language? Get into yoga? Take a cooking class? Become a writer? Here’s your perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: learn a new skill and mingle with people that have the same interests as you!

My favorite experience with classes was in Bogota, Colombia when I signed up for French. I love languages and my evenings were quite free. Within a month of French classes, I made a few local friends. It was such a simple transition – you already learn about these people during class! And the best part is that I learned basic French on top of it.

You can transform your hobby into an actual skill and make valuable connections along the way! Some Toronto evening classes to look into include French, cooking, and writing.

Delfy friend app logo

9. Check Out Delfy

Last but not least, if you’re moving to Toronto, you can always sign up to join the Delfy community! We’ll notify you of our upcoming app launch and send you any events that match your interests. You can sign up through the following link.

We hope this list makes your adjustment to a new city a breeze! If you have any other tips or suggestions that you think we missed, send them over by filling out the Contact Form. We love learning about new interesting social tools and events out there!

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