How to Make Friends in a New City

5 easy-to-follow tips for making meaningful friendships.
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5 easy-to-follow tips for making meaningful friendships.

Since working at Cupcakes and Cashmere, one of the most frequent questions I've gotten from readers is: "How did you make friends so quickly in a new city?" If you've ever moved, you already know that making friends can be one of the scariest parts, but by taking a few risks and keeping an open mind, you'll find that it's easy. 

Having lived in L.A. for almost a year now, the small circle of three or four people I already knew has grown to include a community of people I love, go on adventures with, plan parties around, and brave traffic for, just so I can have a glass of wine with them. Here are some of my tips for making friends in a new city:

1. Be open to blind meetings with strangers.

Shortly after moving to L.A., I received an email from a reader inviting me to coffee. I didn't know anything about her, aside from the fact that she had recently moved from Virginia, owned an event planning company, and read Cupcakes and Cashmere, but we immediately hit it off. Flash-forward to now and she's one of my best friends—I rarely go a few days without seeing her and recently co-hosted an oyster and rosé party with her. A different friend of mine moved here without knowing a single person, then started a fitness Instagram, and met some amazing women through that. The same is true of meeting people not only online, but in line, for coffee, for example—strike up a conversation and ask them if want to join you for a coffee. The worst that can happen is they turn you down and you feel like an idiot—but the good news is you'll never see them again. 

Other great places to meet friends: Meetups (I joined a capture-the-flag Meetup to meet new friends in a city years ago—so random, but so fun), recreational sports teams, and running groups or workout classes (grab coffee with that girl you always see in your yoga class!).

2. Don't get discouraged.  

Like dating, finding new friends can mean meeting a lot of people you don't connect with, which can be discouraging. Part of creating a meaningful friend group means accepting when you don't actually get along with someone. Don't settle for friends you don't absolutely love and don't get discouraged when you feel lonely or "friendless," but instead think of it as part of the friend-making process. It takes time to make a solid friend group and there were absolutely plan-less Friday nights when I first moved here and it was easy to feel incredibly disheartened, but it all works out with time. 

3. Set up regular "friend dates."

The same friend who randomly emailed me does something I consider brilliant—once she'd made three friends in L.A., she started hosting wine nights with us at her house every week. It created an environment where we were able to get to know each other much quicker than we would have shouting to speak in a loud bar, and we now have a standing date to meet every Wednesday. It's a day of the week that isn't usually utilized for plans so we're almost always all free, and it guarantees that no matter our hectic weekend plans, we see each other at least once a week. It also meant that she forged her own clique of girlfriends instead of waiting for it to happen. 

4. Don't overlook friends of friends.

One of the biggest mistakes to be made in making friends is categorizing friends of friends as exactly that, and overlooking the fact that you can form your own relationship with them. If you click with a friend's friend at a party, ask for their number and invite them out with you the next week. The connecting friend will likely be thrilled that two people they like want to be friends with each other as well.  I've also found that the older I get, the more quality my friend's friends are, since we've all become more selective about the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Gone are the days when we were friends with people simply out of convenience. Side note: When I was camping in Big Sur for New Year's, it occurred to me that every person there was a friend of a friend (of a friend). My boyfriend's best friend's roommate's college friend is one of my closest girlfriends now (go figure). 

5. Reach out to anyone and everyone you have a connection to.

I moved to New York the day of my college graduation and literally didn't know a soul. Most of my college friends, including my boyfriend, were taking time off to travel or return home so I had to grasp at straws to meet friends that summer—and by straws, I mean people I literally hadn't spoken to in twenty years. My mom would call me saying something along the lines of, "Oh but you were such good friends with Shelby when you were two!" And then I'd actually call Shelby and invite her to drinks. Yes, it may feel awkward reaching out to someone you barely know, but I found that if you tell anyone, "I'm new to the city and don't know that many people! Do you want to hang out?" no one will think you're sad/desperate because we've all been there. Many of the people I called during those first few weeks in the city were the same people at my going away party two years later. 

Hero and top photo by Evangeline Lane. You can follow her on Instagram here.