Making Friends in a New Country: A Guide for Expats 

7 Best Tips for Making Friends in a New Country | CIO Women Magazine

Millions of people from around the world live abroad, but moving to a foreign country comes with a unique mix of opportunities and challenges. Some people move for a job prospect or an educational opportunity. Some move to satisfy their desire to explore an unfamiliar land. Others move for economic or political or societal issues. 

No matter where you’re from or where you choose to move, many expats from around the globe face the same obstacle: 

Making friends in a new country. 

Whether you’re preparing for an international move or have already settled abroad,

Here are seven tips for making friends in a new country:

1. Befriend your neighbors 

It’s convenient to have friends that live within close proximity, so introduce yourself to your neighbors. Be friendly and approachable when you see them in the building or in the neighborhood. Make small talk and strike up a conversation whenever it’s appropriate to do so. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a great new friend. 

Before you decide where to rent or buy a home abroad, research articles like this one about the safest places to live in Paris. Safer neighborhoods often draw more expats, and it can be even easier to befriend and bond with neighbors that are expats too. 

2. Connect with coworkers 

If you’re working abroad, you’ll likely spend lots of time with your new coworkers. While it’s important to maintain professional relationships when you’re on the job, it’s also wise to partake in after-work hangouts like happy hours, coworking dinners, and networking events. Seize every opportunity to socialize with people in your company or in your industry. 

For digital nomads living abroad, renting a coworking space — even one day a week — is a great way to expose yourself to new people. Coworking spaces exist in almost every major city around the globe. In the city of London alone, there are more than 1,400 to choose from!   

3. Meet other expats 

Some expats find it easier to build friendships with other foreign-born citizens than with locals. No matter how much you want to submerge yourself in the local culture, it never hurts to have a community of friends who understand the expat experience firsthand.   

If you live in a country where you don’t speak the native language, signing up for a foreign language class is a great way for making friends in a new country and learn the local language at the same time. 

4. Join a gym 

For people who love fitness, joining a gym is an excellent way to make new friends abroad. Gyms foster a sense of belonging, and many people find it easier to strike up conversations when they’re in the company of like-minded people who share this common interest.   

7 Best Tips for Making Friends in a New Country | CIO Women Magazine

Yoga studios, dance studios, and aquatic centers are also great places to get in a workout and meet new people with similar health and wellness goals. If you sign up for specific fitness classes, show up a few minutes early. That will give you an opportunity to introduce yourself and engage in small talk with other members of the class before the workout begins.   

5. Frequent the same spots 

While it’s natural to want to explore every coffee shop, restaurant, and café in your new neighborhood, frequenting the same spots on a regular basis can help you make friends. 

Seeing the same people in the same places indicates two things: they have a similar routine and similar taste as you. Smile and say hello to the people you see every day and in a short amount of time, you might be enjoying a cup of coffee or a meal with them.    

6. Volunteer 

For making friends in a new country volunteer opportunities with charitable organizations exist all over the world. Making a difference is always the goal, but there’s an extra bonus: 

The opportunity to meet new people and form meaningful friendships with people who care about the same issues as you. 

Check out Go Overseas to find volunteer opportunities by location, type, and time frame.   

7. Pursue new hobbies 

Living abroad allows you to fully immerse yourself in a new culture, and there’s no better way to do so than to embrace the hobbies and cultural activities that the locals enjoy. 

If you’re an expat in Canada, where ice hockey is the national winter sport, consider taking ice skating lessons. 

If you’re living in Japan, frequent your neighborhood karaoke bar to sing your heart out with the locals. 

As an expat in Italy or France, you might want to take cooking classes to learn about the local cuisine and hone your skills in the kitchen. 

7 Best Tips for Making Friends in a New Country | CIO Women Magazine

Whether you’re interested in painting, baking, birdwatching, or water sports, pursuing new hobbies abroad allows you to develop new skills, embrace the local culture, and meet people with a shared interest— people that could become your new best friends.   

In Conclusion 

When living abroad and making friends in a new country, it’s important to have friends you can trust, be yourself around, and have fun with in person. But it’s also important to stay in contact with your friends and loved ones at home. No matter how many new friends you make in your new country, don’t forget about the ones you left behind.  

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