I learned at a huge cost that the most important thing in life is to be surrounded by people you enjoy.
Being lonely, even in the most exciting city in the world, will suck the life out of you. Being with your best friends and family members, even in remote places, will ensure you’ll have a good time.
Making friends is a matter of life or death, literally.
It’s also much easier when you’re young.
- You have more time
- You’re constantly going to new places for the first time
- You’re constantly surrounded by people.
When you’re old though:
- You can just live in your bedroom and never come out (working remotely + Uber Eat = no social life).
- You have fewer opportunities to meet friends (your colleagues don’t necessarily make good candidates for friendship).
- You have less time and less energy.
And you end up lonely.
Jump now to “how to make friends in 2023” or keep on reading.
Who Do We Become Friends With?
We make friends with people we have stuff in common with.
But what about diversity?
Diversity is great for creative endeavors, but a diverse set of people will have poor relationships.
Humans bond with other humans that feel how they feel about the same stuff.
This is the definition of “having a connection” with somebody.
This means three things:
- You will find your friends in places where people with your profile hang out at.
- The more rare and specific your interests are, the harder it will be to find friends.
- The older you are, the harder it is to find friends.
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, more or less.
When you’re 25, it’s already different. You made some choices that led you to a certain place.
Some 25-year-olds spend the day playing video games. Others build businesses.
Could these two types of people be friends with each other? It’s unlikely.
You need to find people that share with you:
- Levels of energy
- Diet (you have dating apps for vegans and vegetarians)
- Net worth
- Favorite TV-shows
- The “experience of life” or outlook
And many more.
From experience, morphology even plays a role (handsome people hang out with handsome people, fat people with fat people, ugly people with ugly people, tall people with tall people, short people with short people, gym bros with gym bros, etc), but there is no scientific proof of that so we’ll leave it out.
Why Is Making Friends as an Adult Harder?
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, more unique, because you have made choices that shaped your identity and personality.
Since life makes you more unique as you age, the chance to find someone to share stuff with decreases.
This is why cultures encourage people to get married “young”.
The more you age, the harder it gets.
That was the bad part.
Now, the good part.
You have ten times more opportunities to meet new people as an adult than you did as a child.
Children don’t choose the school or they go to. They’re not in charge of their own schedule.
But you are.
The hardest part of meeting new people as an adult is finding where these people are.
So, I came up with a list of every single possible way to meet people in a new city.
How to Make Friends in a New City in 2023
1. Join a hobby club
Whatever you like to do (painting, yoga, meditation, darts, skydiving, music, reading, aquaponey), join a club that practices this hobby.
2. Take a class
Learn music, martial arts, Korean, sewing, finance, chocolate making, or whatever else you like.
Consider that there are some skills that are more social than others. Dancing is more social than skydiving, for example. You’ll also be more likely to meet women in a dancing class than in a C++ class.
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 Facebook groups nowadays in almost all cities on earth.
The only problem with these Facebook groups 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.
I don’t especially recommend them, but they’re better than nothing, at least at the beginning.
4. Go to bars and nightclubs
I know it’s weird in a post-v**** 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 designed to socialize: dance inside, talk outside.
- It’s dark: people are less inhibited in the dark than in the light.
The place you choose will also have an impact on the people you meet. A college bar will be different than a fancy jazz club.
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.
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 with dumb colleagues…then change jobs.
Highly social jobs are:
- Any HORECA job (receptionist, bartender, waiter, nightclub security, cook, dishwasher, etc)
- Any tourism job (tourist office receptionist, tour guide, pub crawl leader)
- Events jobs
- Other jobs: makeup artist, massage therapist, hairdresser, roofer, fitness coach, teacher (any type), shopkeeper…
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)
From business angel or investor networks to digital nomads, vegans, or religious associations…sky’s limit.
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!
26. Join a co-working space
These places can be quite 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 and Twitter. Make sure you aggregate all events happening in your city.
- Write about all of these events in your weekly newsletter.
- Advertise your newsletter in relevant Facebook groups (students, expats, neighborhood, etc). Contact local newspapers and bloggers to promote your newsletter.
- You’ll get to know people simply by getting in touch with event promoters, owners, and other organizers. Once your newsletter reaches 2k 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
A good friend of mine met many of his friends at church.
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.
Remember, your network = your net worth.
You can get the Rolodex here and then copy it to your Google Drive account.
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 girl out of his room after she smashed his phone.
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 resources, head to auresnotes.com.
Subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter and I'll send you a list of the articles I wrote during the two previous weeks + insights from the books I am reading + a short bullet list of savvy facts that will expand your mind. I keep the whole thing under three minutes.
Oh, and you'll also receive a hidden article for new subscribers only!
How does that sound?