Military Life,  Personal

Starting from Scratch – Making Friends in a New City

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It’s been about 2 months since we moved to San Antonio, and I’m finally starting to figure my way around. Anytime you move to a new place there are always new things to learn. Like where everyone buys groceries (except in Texas, everyone is inexplicably obsessed with HEB, so that took 2 seconds to figure out), what the best local restaurants/coffee shops are, and what roads to avoid and when. Those things are pretty simple to get the hang of after a few times out of the house. But it can be a little trickier to find your way around a new community of friends.

As I’m sure most of you have picked up on, I’m a bit of an (*cough* a total) introvert. I don’t consider it a disadvantage in making new friends, but I do feel like I have to do things my own way. For one, I have a hard time making friends in a group setting. It’s super awkward, and there’s always someone louder to talk over me. If I’m going to a group event, I want to go with someone I already know. But in a new place where I know literally no one, it can be hard to start from scratch.

Starting from Scratch - Four Ways to Make Friends When You Move to a New City

I’ve read several blog posts on the subject of making friends after moving, and let’s just say some of the ideas aren’t quite realistic. Like who honestly makes friends in the grocery store? It’s never even occurred to me to strike up a conversation with another person on the cereal aisle. Maybe that works for you, but it doesn’t work for me.

In the past year and a half of being a military spouse, and two totally new cities in that time, I’ve learned a few ways that do work for me. Maybe some of them will work for you too. Here are four ways I’ve successfully met new friends:

1. Facebook Groups (local moms, milspouses, neighborhood, etc.)

I was very surprised when this was one of the first ways I met friends when we moved to El Paso. It had never occurred to me to find new friends on Facebook…I kind of thought Facebook was for keeping up with old friends. But after joining a local military spouse’s Facebook group, I began to notice people posting about being new to the neighborhood, or looking for a workout buddy, or wanting to have a playdate for their kids. So when I saw a few people post about being new to my neighborhood, or looking for friends with similar interests to mine, I hesitantly replied. And I ended up making some really good friends.

Two years ago, I would have never recommended making friends online, but now my opinion has totally changed. Of course, you should always be cautious when meeting a stranger from the internet – but I trust you aren’t totally without judgment. And you can tell a lot about a person from their social media, so it’s usually pretty apparent if you are going to really clash with someone.

2. Apps (Peanut, Meetup, Bumble BFF)

Since meeting people through Facebook was pretty successful for me in El Paso, when I moved to San Antonio, I figured meeting people through apps wouldn’t be so different. So I joined Peanut in the hopes of meeting some other expecting/new mothers. This ended up being a really similar experience to meeting people through Facebook…you can tell so much about a person through their profile, so as long as you use proper discretion, this can be another great way to meet people. And for me, it’s nice to be able to chat with someone one-on-one, without the pressure of finding a friend in a group setting. And you know the people you’re connecting with are actively looking to find new friends, so you’re not wasting your time pursuing a one-sided friendship.

I haven’t tried Meetup or Bumble BFF app, but these also look like good options. Meetup is more for finding existing group activities for whatever your hobbies may be. Whereas Bumble BFF looks to be more similar to Peanut where you are connected with individual people…just not specific to moms.

3. Church small groups/bible study groups/PWOC

I make an exception to my not meeting people in group settings here because small groups are set up to make it easy to meet people. There’s usually someone willing to take charge and introduce you around. And in a church setting, I often go with my husband, who’s much more outgoing than me. Plus even if we ended up visiting a super awkward group where no one talked, I’m not in it alone. Highly recommend having a friendly spouse.

I’ve also tried out some other women’s bible study groups on my own, which has been a good experience. PWOC is military wide, so as far as I know, every base has a chapter. I highly recommend this for meeting other military spouses of all ages, ranks, and stages of life.

4. Friends of friends

When I moved to El Paso, I had multiple people put me in contact with friends who lived nearby. I think it was because El Paso seemed so foreign and far away that people felt obligated to make connections. This was super nice, and even though I didn’t end up making life-long friends with any of the friends-of-friends that I met, I did end up getting some emergency contacts, and some great advice from people who had lived in the area for a while.

Strangely when I moved 500 miles closer to home, I didn’t have quite so many connections. But I did still end up with one contact. One connection may seem insignificant (especially in a city of two million people) but trust me, one phone number of someone local can be hugely comforting when you are brand new. So when someone offers to put you in contact with their second cousin’s daughter, just say yes.

These are four super simple ways to meet new people after moving. (Or after all your friends move away and leave you behind). They are super easy, and if you just make one friend through each outlet, that’s four more friends than you had before. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I can keep up with much more than four good friends at a time.

Advice for the Newbie (aka, things I have to remind myself to do)

Say Yes

Whether that means saying yes to letting your family friends second cousins daughter have your phone number. Or going to an event where you know no one. Or last minute decided to go to the zoo with 2 new friends and their 5 little girls. (I may have done that yesterday. 10/10 recommend.)

If you hesitate to say yes to these small things, for no other reason than fear, it’s going to be very difficult to make friends. You’ll never make friends by sitting at home by yourself all day (trust me.) So don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. You may have a dreadfully awkward experience. Or you may end up making a lifelong friend.

Invite

While accepting the invitations you receive is important, sitting around and waiting for an invitation to come your way will drive you crazy. So gather up some courage and take the first step. You never know who around you has been waiting and hoping to be invited and included.

I’ve never been much of an initiator. I don’t usually have a problem accepting invitations, but I just don’t always think to take the first step. But since moving twice in the past year and a half, I’ve really been working on initiating friendships.

Now when I meet someone I think could be a good friend, I try to follow up right away. I’ll ask if they want to grab coffee, or meet at the park for a walk, or join me at an event. It can feel kind of awkward or out-of-the-blue at first, but I promise it’s not as scary as you think. I’ve found that most people are so appreciative of being invited…like I said, sometimes it’s easier to say yes than to invite, so it feels good to be invited. I know how it feels to have a hand of friendship extended to me, and I want to do the same for others.

These things have definitely been a huge help to me in my last few moves, and I hope it helps you as well! Let me know what your tips and tricks are for starting from scratch when you move to a new place.

Making Friends in a New City - Four Ways to Meet Friends After Moving to a New Town | Julia Auburn | #milso #milsoblogger #armywife #militaryspouse #armyspouse #newcity #moving #adviceformoving #makingfriends #friendships #newplaces #newpeople #pcs

Making Friends in a New City - Four Ways to Meet Friends After Moving to a New Town | Julia Auburn | #milso #milsoblogger #armywife #militaryspouse #armyspouse #newcity #moving #adviceformoving #makingfriends #friendships #newplaces #newpeople

Making Friends in a New City - Four Ways to Meet Friends After Moving to a New Town | Julia Auburn | #milso #milsoblogger #armywife #militaryspouse #armyspouse #newcity #moving #adviceformoving #makingfriends #friendships #newplaces #newpeople #pcs #pcsing

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