How to meet people in a new city by following this one step

Beach at Point Reyes

Beach at Point Reyes

Did you recently move to a new city or even to a different country? Find out how to meet people in a new city by following this one step. This is the one step I took each time I moved to a new place. This is the one step you have to take to be successful as well.

Do you ever wonder if you are the only expat that doesn’t have any friends? Are you asking yourself how are other expats connected with so many people? How do you meet people in a new city?


One single step

The key to beating loneliness is to take ONE STEP TODAY.


One step, you ask! How can one step help me feel less lonely in my new environment?

I took this one step when I moved to Atlanta, to Germany and now to Oakland. Each time this step helped me to connect with people and ultimately helped me to make friends. I mean friends, not just acquaintances. Friends, who I can call when I am up or down, meet for a coffee, share news and feelings with.

When I moved to Atlanta for the first time, I joined a volleyball league at the YMCA. There I met several nice people and: my BFF, my husband.

In Germany, I took some French classes and participated at a mother-child club.

When I moved back to Atlanta, it was easy. I just had to reconnect with old friends.

Now here in Oakland, I took again some French classes. I just love the French language! I teach part-time at a school, where I invited several colleagues for brunch. Our brunch has become a tradition since then and friendships  have developed through our brunch get-togethers. When we first moved into our new home, we invited several neighbors. We got invited back and now enjoy having closer contact to some wonderful people. Additionally, I went to some meetings organized by and .


How to meet people in a new city

What is the one step? The step on how to meet people in a new city?

So what do all these examples have in common?

YOU have to take the INITIATIVE!

I took the INITIATIVE! The initiative to meet people.

YOU can too!

The world is not coming to greet you!

You have to make the conscious choice of wanting to meet people!

YOU have to take the INITIATIVE!

Take the initiative to:

Invite a neighbor for coffee.

Invite several coworkers or other spouses to an informal get-together at your house.

Join a club.

Participate at a course.


Difficulties you might experience

I know it isn’t always easy to take the initiative. But if you don’t do it, you can easily become stuck in a vicious cycle. You need to escape this cycle. When you feel lonely, it is so simple to stay home and cuddle up with a book and a cup of tea, rather than going out into the world to meet people.

Andrew Couch of the blog Grounded Traveler describes this vicious cycle well: “The hurt of the loneliness makes me feel more vulnerable and thus less likely to go out in a situation that may be stressful either linguistically or culturally. I don’t want to risk being spurned.”

However, staying home will only exacerbate your feeling of loneliness.  If you are longing for human interaction, read my article about how to connect with strangers to feel less homesick and lonely.

Additionally, you need to let go of preconceptions. You might think that everybody already has friends and that you will be the fifth wheel. Know, that many expats feel lonely. They will be delighted that you took the initiative to get to know them.

The language and culture differences can present a barrier between expats and locals. Try to overcome this obstacle. Take language classes.

Facebook might give you a false sense of being connected with your friends. Don’t spend hours following these exciting journeys that your friends are taking. The digital world can consume you! Instead get out and experience real life interactions. There is just no substitute for that. Get out and explore your new town! I am giving you a detailed list on how to get to know your new town in a previous article.


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Once you are settled in your new place and made it a home, you need to take the next step: making social connections and ultimately finding friends. Everyone must have their need satisfied for social interaction, their need of belonging somewhere.


Take a look at the model of Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. Maslow’s theory suggests that access to higher level needs requires satisfaction in the lower level. An individual will only have a strong desire to achieve the higher levels when the basic levels of needs are met. So this means the individual can only actualize self-esteem and confidence when he feels love and belonging. And the individual will achieve his full potential, his self-actualization, when all needs are realized.

You will not find friends over night. It is a process. Be open to many people, so that you will find true friends. It takes effort and time to build new friendships.

Set realistic goals for yourself and write them down. Be proactive. Once you have a social network, your other problems will be solved faster and easier as well.


So now take the one step

Take the initiative and connect with someone this weekend! Pick up the phone and call. Get outside, join a club and meet people in your new city.


One last thing

Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.

I just went through papers that I had in my purse and I came across a torn piece of paper where I had scribbled down a quote by the Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan. His quote fits so well into this context: “Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”

Make your place beautiful.


3 Responses to How to meet people in a new city by following this one step

  1. Nancy February 18, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Just the inspiration I needed today to reach out, instead of waiting for the world to come to me! Thanks.

    • Heike February 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

      Hi Nancy, I am glad that my article was helpful for you.
      I often have to remind myself that I have to be the one who has to take the initiative.

  2. Kabiru February 17, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    I’m loving these posts, we have all had such denrifeft experiences. I’m a lot like you I came to England on my own, to find’ myself, explore somewhere new and experience the world. How you were brave enough to do in another language really holds me in awe did you sometime find with your shopping roulette that it wasn’t what you wanted, but delicious anyway? Sure, there are things I miss from home, but I am not plagued by an overwhelming desire to go back. Still there are times when I miss the people, the food and the culture and they sneak up unaware and seem to have nothing to do with the time of year or big occasions. I’m the same, and it’s great to find that I’m not alone!! Maybe it’s the head space you travel to that makes a difference?

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