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Moving Week: 15 Tips for Making Friends after a Move

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We have moved 9 times in our 14 years of marriage. Some moves have taken us across the country and other moves have taken us to the city next door. Surprisingly, every move is hard in its own way. Making close friends quickly and easily only happened 1 out of 9 times.

After so many moves, I realized that the faster I make friends, the better I like our new spot. The longer I wait, the more I regret not becoming closer to people sooner. That being said, making friends is a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding. So, if you are new to an area (or not so new) and feeling lonely, dive in!

My 15 Tips for Making Friends After a Move

Start before you get there. If you have decided to move, tell everyone you know. You will be shocked at how many connections you already have to your new city. Use that “friend of a friend” or “sister’s husband’s cousin” to really acquaint yourself to your new area from afar. If people are willing, grab their email address and phone number and use them to find answers to your questions. Let them know when you will be arriving and meet up with them. It’s fantastic to feel like you have any connection to an unfamiliar city.

Play the new card. This might sound funny, but people are SO willing to help people out who are new to their area. Any time we move, I ask random people every where about everything regarding our new city: dentists and doctors, fun things to do with your family, local restaurants, etc. Take advantage of being new and create easy friendships through these types of conversations. Which leads me to #3…

Get a phone number. I know, you probably thought you were past the whole, “Can I get your number” stage, but when you move it is like dating all over again. If you meet a mom you click with in the classroom, neighborhood or at a park, get her number and ask if she and her child would like to meet up some time, and then call her!

Start meet ups. After you have gotten a number or two, text your new friends when you decide to do something fun. You can give them notice for a big outing like the zoo, or you can shoot a quick text to let them know you are heading to a favorite park, lunch spot, or going on a walk and see if they want to join you. This method is so easy and pressure-free for everyone; they can come and mingle without feeling obligated to stay too long, plus it allows you to bow out when you need to go too. I have found that people are usually very happy for an invite to be social. This works with older kids and entire families on a weekend…we like to bring take out to a park or pool and let the kids and adults play and chat. I also love that it limits my investment in the get-together since the invite is casual and to a place I was already planning on going. If no one can come, it’s fine; if someone joins us, it’s a bonus.

Find a group. In order to make friends, you have to put yourself out there. I have always found great friends through my church and my neighbors. If you are not a church going person or don’t have many neighbors in your stage of life, join a mom’s group, a gym, the PTA, take a class or volunteer. Try to make yourself a part of something as quickly as possible and don’t limit your friendships by age or stage of life…some of my favorite relationships have been with women significantly older or a bit younger than I am.

Start or join a club. I love to read, so one of the first things I find in a new area is a book club. If one doesn’t exist, I start one. The great thing about starting something you love is that it doesn’t feel like work and it’s okay if only a few people are interested. If books are not your thing, how about a crafting or cooking group, a card or running club?

Don’t complain about your new city. There is no better way to alienate new friends than to talk about how horrible their town is. Go ahead and share some of the differences between your new and old city or some of the funny quirks you’ve found, but no one wants to hear that their neighborhood is a million steps down from where you came from. See the good, and if it is hard, let your new friends help you find it.

Don’t glorify your old spot. People are generally interested in what life is like in other parts of the country and world, but talking about your old stomping grounds like they are celestial gets old. Share the good and the bad about where you came from, but don’t make your neighbors feel like you wish you were still there. Show them you are happy to start fresh.

Open up. I know it can be tough when you are new, but closeness comes so much more quickly when you are willing to be open (of course, within reason). No one I’ve met is interested in being friends with someone who is perfect or emotionless. Honestly share things that are hard for you and be willing to be open about the things you love and enjoy. In return, ask your new friends questions and take the opportunity to get to know them too. When you are new, it can be easy to forget to reciprocate that kindness and interest in others.

Say yes. Moving is busy, but take a break for a little fun. I have found that in the beginning, people are especially nice and welcoming, so take advantage of that and say yes as often as possible when you get an invitation to connect with new friends and neighbors.

Give service. Look for ways you can help in your neighborhood or with your new friends. Offer to watch kids during a doctor’s appointment, drive some extra boys to soccer practice, or bring in dinner after a baby. Going out of your way to be kind really helps people feel more comfortable in making a connection with you.

Accept service. I know this sounds a bit strange, but some of our closest relationships have blossomed because we allowed others to help us out. Multiple times we have had men offer to help us unload our items from the moving truck and women offer to keep an eye on our little boys while we unpack. Their generosity was incredibly meaningful and we felt close to them instantly. That being said, don’t be a drain on others’ time or resources; take help when you really need it, but don’t cross the line of taking advantage of kindness.

Feed people. If you really want to get to know someone, offer them food. It is rare that an invitation to our home for dinner or dessert gets passed up, and it is our favorite way to really get to know a family. I usually cook (check out my easy recipes for a crowd HERE.) and keep it simple with paper plates and utensils, or you can always just order pizza. If that seems like more than you can handle, invite people over for dessert (ice cream sundae bars are easy and everyone loves them). Breaking bread together offers entire families a chance to chat and get to know one another on a more personal level. We often have a game to play (indoors or outside) after the talking and eating just in case things are a little slow. We have found that this is the most effective way to meet new friends.

Deliver dessert. Have you ever lived somewhere for years and never met your neighbors? I am ashamed to say that we have, and it is so embarrassing. This problem can be remedied by taking cookies to your neighbors soon after you move in, if they don’t come over first. It allows you to skip all those awkward encounters years later when you realize you’ve lived next to each other for 5 years and don’t even know each other’s first names. It can also be the beginning of a great friendship. It’s so easy to deliver dessert and say, “Hey, we just moved in on the corner and wanted to meet our neighbors.” Breaks down barriers right away.

Start a tradition. I saved my favorite tip for the end. Decide, as a family, if there is a tradition you would like to start in your new area that happens yearly and people look forward to. For example, our family, regardless of our location, has decided to do a Marshmallow Snowball Fight during December. We invite all our friends and neighbors and have the best time. We have taken part in Valentine cookie decorating nights, 4th of July BBQs with potluck fireworks, outdoor summer movie nights with popcorn and candy; a Halloweenie roast with hot dogs, s’mores and homemade root beer, neighborhood Easter egg hunts, caroling parties, water fights, Superbowl parties, etc. There are lots of fun things you can do, but make it something you love and look forward to. It is an especially great way to meet people when you are new to an area.

 

TWO QUICK NOTES

Reciprocity. Please realize that just because you have people to your home for dinner or invite them to fun activities does not mean that they will reciprocate the invitation. It also does not mean that they don’t enjoy their time with you or your family. I did not realize this in the beginning and felt bummed that few people ever invited us to their home or to their planned fun. We have probably had 10 times as many people to our home than have ever invited us to theirs and I have probably coordinated 10 times the get togethers as I have ever been invited to, but I know that people have enjoyed our nights together and our acquaintances have blossomed into real and lasting friendships because of it. It no longer bothers me at all. People are comfortable showing friendship in different ways (and some hate to cook or have a limited budget), so don’t wait around for someone to invite you back…you might be waiting forever and really miss out.

3 Strikes, You’re Out. While I don’t expect a reciprocal invitation, I am not a glutton for humiliation. So, we have a 3 strike rule. If I invite someone to join us 3 times and they say no without saying something like, “Invite us next time though, I’m sorry our schedules are so off!” or if they don’t respond at all, I will wait for them to initiate something before I invite again. There are lots of people in the world who need and want friends, so we try to focus our efforts on people who are excited about getting to know us too!

For more moving advice, check out: 
13 Practical Ways to Help Kids Adjust to a Move
21 Great Ways to Welcome New Neighbors

To see Mom Explores Michigan most loved article, click HERE!

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12 thoughts on “Moving Week: 15 Tips for Making Friends after a Move

  1. You read my mind. It's crazy. Derek and I have been talking about moving, and I told him that I wanted to do it soon, because I am worried about making friends. Next year, my youngest starts preschool, which means I am getting out of the play group, going-to-the-zoo-before-lunch phase, which is how I really got to be good friends with a lot of my neighbors. This was really helpful for me. Also, we still need to get together with the Pughs.

  2. We've also moved a *lot*. I grew up moving every couple of years. These tips are spot on. I always tell people that you just have to put yourself out there. Sometimes I have found myself unhappy where we are despite doing everything on the list, and I have had to accept that sometimes we just didn't fit in there, but that isn't the case for other people moving to that same place. So I try to keep myself positive, even if I'm unhappy with the area and I keep putting myself out there, trying new things and meeting new people. There is no time to be shy when you're new!

  3. LOL I Hosted the Easter Egg Hunt, Outside Summer Movies, Halloween Parties& Christmas Caroling! I sure miss the Gardens! But we have moved too and met new friends and reconnected with REALLY great ones! PLUS I joined Younique! We are moving again, around the same area but it's still scary! But I know it will bring new friends&memories too! Thanks Brooke! And the BIGGEST thanks to ALWAYS coming to ALL my crazy, fun, activities!

  4. Thanks Jenny! It's funny how some places friends come so easily and with others it takes so much work. It is a little different as they get older too and that did make me nervous when we moved to Michigan, but these things really have helped us feel at home everywhere we have been.

  5. Thanks for your comment Vicky. It can be really overwhelming, but we have had some really amazing experiences and made friends in every corner of the country because of it. I wouldn't change it if I could!

  6. Thanks Sariah! It is true that the perfect neighborhood for one is not the perfect place for another and the key is to keep trying…it's interesting how one person can completely transform an area and make it a place you love.

  7. This is such a great list! I have to comment though on the "Deliver Dessert" tip. When we moved to Vermont, no one came to us, so we decided to go to them and brought cookies to meet our neighbors. They all thought we were such weirdos! They were nice, but absolutely stunned that we wanted to meet them! Haha! Only someone who has lived in New England will understand this, but it is so how New England is! Everyone kind of keeps to themselves. It was by far the hardest move we've had, but in the end, we came out of it with some great friends.

    I absolutely LOVE your idea of starting a tradition! I've had one in mind for a year now, and now that the weather is better, I'm so excited to get going on it! This is a great reminder! We moved to a gigantic cul-de-sac (17 houses!) and go figure – there are no kids younger than teens (other than ours) on the entire street! I've been trying to think of how to get people from the neighborhood across from ours to venture down our way more often and I think this is just the thing needed. All of this is such great advice!

  8. I'm loving this!!! Perfect time for me to read all your advice. Thanks!!! So fun to talk to you the other day, thanks for the info, it was a huge help. We're so excited to be close again and see you and your boys a little more:)

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