Let me be the first to say that I have the big milestones of moving to a new area covered- picking the perfect area, finding your dream house, navigating the deal, and cruising to closing. However, the hard part? Getting settled once you land somewhere new.
When I moved from college to Florida, Florida to DC and DC to Raleigh, I had to start completely over in terms of making new friends. Gone were the days that I could text my sorority sisters to grab coffee or rely on my fellow Student Ambassadors (yes, I was a campus tour guide- act surprised) or roommates for a night out. However, through my college experience and growing up I DID pick up a few tips along the way that I think helped me make such amazing friendships everywhere I move.
1. Look for the joiners- it's no secret that leaving your house as an adult is hard, scary and generally the worst. But! As soon as you take a risk and find a group you align with, a team you can commit to or a cause you care about, you can be sure that these other "joiners", or basically people willing to go off the couch and out on a limb are the great foundation of future friendships.
As an example, when I wanted to start a tennis team, the first place I turned was Junior League. I know we are all there to make friends and get more involved, so I can count on the fact that they won't laugh at me, turn me down or stand me up. The same goes for throwing a party or starting a book club, I know that my monthly Articles Club gals will be reliable, and that my neighborhood moms group (yes I'm childless in a moms group- act surprised) are always up for a social time. People who are already raising their hand to join things are more likely to be social and on the market for friends!
2. Activities remove awkwardness- There is no better way to make friends than to bond over being newbies or growing a skill you share. I turn to Skillpop, local classes at Home Depot (YES I made a friend there), or intramural leagues like WAKA for these types of relationships. Conversation is easy because you can discuss the task at hand, and more similarities will come up as you talk and laugh more and more. It's also worth nothing that things like book club or my favorite articles club or purposeful groups like Chamber of Commerce or Junior League instantly give you something in common. Worries over conversation topics and things in common are the most common in terms of "friend dating", so having something already in mind to discuss like a book or volunteer project nixes those from the start.
3. Rely on your network- I never said making grown up friends wouldn't be awkward. With that in mind, ask your current friends to wrack their brain on who might be a good fit for you in your new city. Letting others play matchmaker takes the pressure off of you, and you have a kickstart to a friendship because hopefully friends of your friends are good friends (shoo!). I call this the "bachelorette factor", when a friend from your past brings all of THEIR friends together, everyone usually meshes without issue. Scan the audience at out of town events like weddings for locals as well, and don't be afraid to ask for help! Outside of friend blind dates, I've had luck with alumni groups from school or my sorority to grow a new set of peeps.
4. Treat it like dating- Let's face it, making true adult friendships, like dating, can be uncomfortable and frustrating. We're putting ourselves out there, testing the waters and seeing how different relationships might pan out. There's a risk of disappointment, embarrassment and maybe even a friend breakup here or there. But trust me when I tell you that 99% of my best friends have been made by just walking up and saying "I'd like to be your friend". Did I get a weird look? Sometimes. But honestly, if they don't appreciate your effort then they're not your people.
In Raleigh alone, I have met two great friends striking up a conversation at breweries, one that I cornered in a conference room at my old job and promptly burst into tears over how our jobs weren't the right fit, one I've reconnected with from1st grade and several from just piping up and admitting that I needed to make new friends.
In case you don't believe me, the most outlandish "dating" story I have is with my dear friend Allison. We met at the dog park at our apartment, had an amazing conversation and she gave me her apartment number in passing. I promptly wrote her a note, stuck it on her door and crossed my fingers! The days following were really uncertain because it turns out she was OUT OF TOWN, not ghosting me or thinking I was weird. She called me as soon as she got back, and it turns out we have a ton in common. And if you think I'm a creep, think again because that is exactly how Reese Witherspoon met her best friend, so THERE.
The long and short of making adult friends is to know that everyone feels a little weird, but 99% of people are out there looking to grow relationships and bond with others. Without the social structures we are used to in college or at work, it can make things a little slow to start, but if you take the first step and put yourself out there, friendships will start falling into place.