I learned at a huge cost that the most important thing in life is to find people you enjoy.
Being lonely, even in the most exciting city in the world, will suck the life out of you and you’ll move out — or jump out of the window.
Likewise, being with your favorite people (even in the middle of nowhere) will always help you have an amazing time.
Making friends is a matter of life or death, literally. People say it’s easier to befriend others when you’re young.
But is it true?
When you’re young, you’re constantly going to new places for the first time, so you’re forced to make new friends.
When you’re old, you can just live in your bedroom and never come out (working remotely + Uber Eat = no social life).
Or you have a full time job, less time, and less energy.
As a result, you lose the habit of making new friends and forget how it’s done.
Your parents are no longer there to force you to attend music practice or quit the Xbox.
So you get lazy and stay in instead of going out.
And you end up lonely.
Who Do We Become Friends With?
We make friends with people we share stuff with.
This explains why kids get along with almost all kids.
When you’re five years old, you live the same life as pretty much any other five-year-old. Even if families diverge in income, rich and poor five-years-old have the same experience, broadly.
When you’re 25, it’s already different. You made some choices that led you to certain places.
Let’s take an example.
Robert and Patrick were best friends when they were five years old.
Twenty years later, Robert is building his business and is already making tens of thousands per month.
Patrick is playing video games in his mom’s basement.
Are Patrick and Robert still friends at 25? Absolutely not.
Could they become friends again? Neither.
You become friends with people you share stuff with.
That can be:
- Levels of energy
- Diet (you have dating apps for vegans and vegetarians)
- Net worth
- Favorite TV-show
And many more.
From experience, morphology even plays a role (handsome people hang out with handsome people), but there is no scientific proof of that so we’ll leave it out.
When you’re five years old, you have the same ambition, net worth, level of energy, hobbies, and interests as the other five-year-olds.
This isn’t the case when you’re an adult.
As you grow older, your life and your identity are becoming more and more complex.
As a result, chances that you’ll find someone to relate to decrease as you age.
This is why culture encourages people to get married “young”. The more you age, the harder it gets.
That’s for the bad part.
Now, the good part.
Despite that it’s harder to find people to connect to when you’re older, you also have ten times more opportunities to meet new people as an adult than you did as a child.
The main reason why you haven’t enjoyed these opportunities yet is that you don’t know about them.
So, I came up with a list of every single possible way you can meet new people absolutely anywhere in the world.
Please prioritize the options that ensure you will meet people you’ll get along with.
There is no point hanging out with people that play bowling every Saturday night if all you want to do is hiking in the mountain.
Side note: making friends will significantly be easier if you speak the local language. If you plan on staying in the same country for more than 10 years, by all means, learn it.
Similarly, there are places where it’s very easy to make friends (Spain) and others where it’s nearly impossible (Estonia).
Take that into account!
Every Possible Way to Meet People in a New City or Country (In no Particular Order)
1. Join a hobby club
Whatever you like to do (painting, yoga, meditation, darts, skydiving, aquaponey), join a club that practices this hobby.
2. Take a class
If you don’t know the foreign language, take a class. You’ll meet other expats with whom you’ll be able to share your experience and ask advice to.
This is also valid for anything else you want to learn.
Of course, there are some skills that are more social than others. Dancing is more social than karate, for example.
3. Find events online
Facebook, Meetup, Couchsurfing (although it’s half-dead now), InterNations (I’ve heard bad stuff about them) are a few of the platforms designed to meet new people.
Meetup was built only for that, and you’ll find expat Facebook groups nowadays in almost all cities on earth.
The problem with these is that they tend to gather people that have no social skills, so you don’t find la crème de la crème there, if you know what I mean.
They’re usually full of men desperate to find a girlfriend, and a few ladies that already have boyfriends.
I don’t especially recommend them, but they’re better than nothing, at least at the beginning.
The city you choose will also have an impact on the people. You won’t find the same people in Łódź as you will in London.
4. Go to bars and nightclubs
I know it’s weird in a post-virus world, but these places are crazy good to meet new people.
- People get drunk: let’s be honest, it’s much easier to make friends when you’re drunk than when you are sober.
- They’re made to talk: while inside is made for dancing (in clubs at least), outside is made for talking. Buy a lighter (even if you don’t smoke) and just wait for someone to ask you…for a lighter. Share it, and start a conversation.
- It’s dark: people are less inhibited in the dark than during the day.
The place you choose will also have an impact on the people you meet. A college bar will be different than a fancy jazz & cheese night at the Swisshotel.
5. Go to private parties
You’ll have to know at least one person in advance to get to private parties.
In my experience, they’re great ways to meet people because they’re much more restrictive. Restriction means trust.
You can pretty much talk to anyone because the person you’ll talk to will have assumed that you’re somehow connected to the host.
It’s also more chilled, and cheaper.
6. Volunteer at an event, fair, or conference
There are plenty of festivals, fairs, and trade shows to volunteer at.
This is particularly good if you’re trying to break into a specific industry (music festivals).
You’ll be assigned a team to work with and will befriend them quickly.
I’ve met dozens of people this way.
7. Go to fairs, conferences, and events
Not as good as volunteering as it’s harder to just strike a convo — but it’s possible.
Social times happen at the very end of the event, when people go to the bar and want to relax.
8. Do charity work
Same as number 6.
9. Teach language classes
If you don’t want to learn a language, teach yours!
You’ll meet a lot of people that are interested in your culture.
It’s one of the best options to meet a potential girlfriend or boyfriend.
10. Build a small business
Opening a bar, restaurant, or a café, or simply becoming a tour guide will help you meet people. The problem is that it will seldom be people you’ll strike a long-lasting friendship with, but it’s at least something.
Once you’re a small business owner, you can join a network or association and go from there.
11. Find an expat community
They’re usually on Facebook.
If you’re from a big country, you’ll find groups such as “French in London”, “Spanish in Sidney”, “Germans in Warsaw”, “Americans in Mexico” and stuff like that.
You don’t necessarily need to be a part of these countries. Just speaking the language is enough.
12. Talk to your neighbors
Some neighborhoods organize neighbors’ parties, or have a neighborhood association that you can be a part of.
You can also speak with the parents of the other kids at your kids’ school.
13. Organize parties (at your place)
All you need is to know one or two people that know a lot of people.
Tell your popular friends that you’re throwing a party and ask them to invite people.
That’s how I met most of the people when I did my internship at the EU Commission.
14. Use dating apps
There are two ways to do it.
- You make it clear you don’t want to date and are looking for friends from the get-go.
- Become friends with the people you’ve been on a date with but with whom it didn’t click romantically.
15. Join a sports club
Like number 1.
16. Go back to university
Most universities have evening classes in English (business or IT) where you can meet people interested in the things you want to learn.
Universities have also amazing socializing opportunities.
17. Join a co-living
That’s how I’ve met 80% of the people I know in Estonia. I haven’t yet lived in an apartment, only in co-livings.
18. Get roommates
I’ve met a lot of people and remained friends with them simply because we were roommates.
You have two ways to go about this.
- Rent out a 2–5 bedroom apartment and choose your roommates yourself. The financial risk is bigger but if you do it well, you can build your own community.
- Rent a room in an apartment where there are already roommates.
19. Organize events (afterwork, entrepreneur meetups, etc)
That’s not for everyone, but it’s one of the BEST ways to meet new people.
I’ve met people that organized events in Spain, Paris, Sidney, Brussels, etc. Some had transformed their hobbies into a full-fledged event business. Others had unlimited drinks at the bar.
In any way, because they were organizers, they knew everyone that showed up. If the party was good, people would return with more people.
20. Organize get-to-know-each-other dinners
This necessitates that you already made at least two friends.
Find a date, a restaurant, or a place big enough to host 5 or 6 people. Ask each of your friends to invite the most interesting/funny/intelligent person they know.
Repeat, with different people. After 2 or 3 dinners, you’ll already have massively increased your network.
21. Help people
Here are places where you can find people that need help.
- Online: some people are always asking questions in Facebook groups. Identify a pattern for specific questions and write a blog post with the answer, for example.
- On forums/announcement sites: whether it’s fixing the dishwasher or teaching math, you can help these people. I taught English privately to a French girl in Paris and became friends with the family.
- On supermarket/public library boards. Some people are looking for language courses, for example.
22. Find a (new) job
If you work in a very small company, or the people aren’t interesting, or you don’t like your colleagues…then change job.
23. Work in the tourism/event/HORECA industry
The people working there are super social, always headed for a party and always inviting others to join them.
You don’t earn much money so it could just be a weekend side-hustle.
24. Join a network (investors, digital nomads, etc)
If you have money, you can join a business angel or investor network. If you don’t, you can join digital nomad networks. They’re a bit pricey, but that also means you’ll meet people that have the means to join them.
25. Find “connectors” and ask for introductions
Today, you can link anyone on earth to anyone on earth in five or six connections because of people called “super-connectors”.
These people are the most social people on earth and know thousands of other people.
Once you know them and take the initiative to speak with them, they will tell you:
- Which events are happening
- Which people you should talk to
- Where to meet cool people
And much, much more!
You can also read the books “Never eat alone”, “Charisma on Command”, and “Win Friends and Influence People” and become a super-connector yourself!
26. Join a co-working space
These places are communities. They’re expensive, so you can join a co-working café instead.
27. Build a local newsletter
You have several choices, such as local news, local events, local places, etc.
Let’s say you build a local events newsletter.
Here’s how I would do it.
- Find all websites and Facebook pages that aggregate events. Follow concert halls, nightclubs, theaters, and parks on Facebook. Make sure you aggregate all events happening in your city.
- Write about all of these events in your weekly newsletter.
- Advertise your newsletter in expat and student Facebook groups. Tell the people you know about it, contact local newspapers so they make an article about it, etc.
- You’ll get to know people simply by getting in touch with promoters, owners, and other event organizers. Once your newsletter reaches 10k-15k subscribers, charge a fee to advertise. This way you not only got yourself a network of highly influential people, but also a small business!
28. Join online communities
I met two good friends in a Discord server I had joined after joining a forum. When I found out they weren’t living far from me, we met in real life!
29. Do Airbnb/Couchsurfing/Warmshowers
I became friends with my Airbnb hosts in Riga and Tunis, and met dozens of people through Couchsurfing.
Of course one of us eventually left, but it’s better than nothing!!
30. Participate in hackathons
I’ve never done this but I met a guy that did it and told me he met all of his “mates” in hackathons.
It’s not my thing, but it may be yours.
31. Join an NGO
Like 21, 15, or 1.
32. Join a religious institution
It’s something I personally don’t do, but a good friend of mine met many of his friends at church.
In Medellin, there was a club for Orthodox Jews, for example.
33. Stay at a hostel
Hostels are social by design. I’ve always spent a few weeks at hostels before finding a place to live in.
This enabled me to meet people that were also moving into the city. Some people would find an apartment to live together.
34. Try to only sleep (and cook) at home
If you force yourself to never be home besides for sleeping and cooking, then you will inevitably hang out more outside and meet some people.
Here are a few places to hang out at:
- Public libraries
- University campuses
- Public squares
- Book shops
35. Reach Out
If there’s someone (famous or not) you want to reach out to, do it!
You’ll be surprised how easily you can become friends with people you admire the work of.
36. Take the initiative
Unless you’re a super-connector, people won’t constantly invite you out. You have to take the initiative, plan events, and invite people yourself.
“bUt wHAt if NobOdY coMeS?”
That’s life. I’ve organized a few events and had 5–10 people signing up, but ended up going alone.
It’s sad, but I’m still alive.
37. Above all, Be VALUABLE
Let’s be honest.
People that don’t have friends are alone because they’re awful to hang out with.
They’re annoying, they know nothing, they’re mean, they’re depressed, they’re too serious, they don’t speak, they’re not respectful, they’re not trustworthy, etc.
When you become a valuable person, you won’t be looking for friends: friends will be looking for you.
People will call you and ask to hang out, they’ll invite you to parties, to the movies…
When you’re nice to hang around, people will naturally come to you.
Out of all of the options on this list, this one is the one that will bring you the most high-quality people in your life.
It’s also the hardest one to practice.
You won’t be able to remember all of the people you’ve met once the number goes over 30.
That’s why I have created a Rolodex.
Now, full disclosure, I am not using it because I am lazy, and I don’t really want to keep in touch with +99% of people I meet (yeah, I know I come across as a moron, that’s the sad reality of life).
When I do meet someone that I have a genuine connection with, then I remember them.
But don’t do like me! Remember, your network = your net worth.
You can download the Rolodex here and then upload it back to your Google Drive (if you want).
This is what it looks like:
I find it useful to write down how and where you’ve met. I have hundreds of contacts in my phone, I don’t remember the tenth of these people.
Dan Bilzerian told the story of how he kicked out of his room a girl that smashed his phone by throwing it off the balcony of their hotel room.
All of his network was inside it.
That highlights how priceless contacts really are (his phone, luckily, didn’t break).
Of course, you can also build your lists on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, but not everyone are on the same platforms, so Google sheet is, I believe, easier.
For more expat resources, head to auresnotes.com.
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