Making new friends abroad (post international move) – 10 tips

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Following an international move, the initial couple of months as an ex-pat in a brand-new area have a tendency to pass by in a haziness of commotion and elation. There are a hundred issues to attend to, and additionally, everything around you is new and rather mesmerizing. Every once in a while there is a spectacle or experience you want to share with somebody you care for, however on the whole, even if you had friends around, you would barely have the time for them.

The absence of a support network and the feeling of isolation can be the toughest part of being an ex-pat. Irrespective of how quickly things come together in your new location and regardless of much you keep on top of communicating with individuals back home, without a close group of friends it’s very tough to ever completely settle in. On the other hand, if you have friends around, it’s typically a lot easier to handle the many inconveniences and aggravations that accompany the life of most ex-pats.

Making friends in a brand-new location can be tough. In many cases this effects travelling spouses, who in many cases do not work. This removes the initial exposure to new colleagues which a working member of the family experiences. So it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here are 10 pointers that will ideally help any ex-pat to develop some friends in their new surroundings.

1. Use your network and plan ahead

Communication is making the world a smaller place and increasingly these days it is possible you may know someone there or know someone who knows someone there.

Even if you do not eventually become close friends with these initial people it is likely they will introduce you to their friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Make sure you alert these initial contacts of your arrival and making clear you’re keen to meet up.

2. Focus on setting priorities and be active

Individuals are accustomed to friendships developing naturally and not having to necessarily go out looking for or actively pursuing friends.

As an ex-pat, nevertheless, you’re beginning with absolutely nothing, so the reality is you are going to have to invest some time and effort.

People tend to treat finding new friends as a low priority but this activity should be top of your list.

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3. Live with other people

If you are moving overseas without a family or spouse the option of sharing a house or apartment with other people is an excellent way to find new friends.

Once again your housemate(s) may not end up as bosom buddies but they are likely to introduce you to their network of friends allowing you to meet an extended number of people.

4. Spend time with co-workers

Whilst this may sound obvious it is very surprising how many freight forwarders/ Express package companies and even storage firms who offer International removals services.

In many cases, this is treated as a sideline with crucial aspects of the moving process compromised and often subcontracted, in particular the packers and crew leader who oversee the packing of your precious belongings.

This often has a negative impact, especially when it comes to quality control and communication. Companies such as this often struggle to meet and manage the expectation levels of their clients. You only need to go online to read some of the horror stories

Having your co-workers around for a BBQ can help form better bonds

5. Sign up to a group or club

Joining a club or group of people with like-minded interests is an ideal way of finding new friends. This might take the form of something completely new or perhaps an opportunity to pick up and old hobby, perhaps yoga or tennis. Language classes are ideal, as you may well meet people who are also new. Again, you can plan things in advance and check the activities which interest you – get involved!

6. Join a networking group

For some people, the idea of joining a group for the sole purpose of meeting others is quite distressing. However many ex-pats have testified to the fact that they have made long-lasting relationships in this environment.

The other thing to consider is that everyone else is in a similar situation within the group and a high percentage of them may be new arrivals. This can create a feeling of solidarity and calm the nerves.

7. Volunteer for some charity work

Whether it’s animal rescue a homeless shelter or a local charity there are always people around the world and in your new local community that can use help.

Not only can this be an excellent investment of your time, but the likelihood is also you will find it easy to relate and bond with people who share your strength of conviction and feelings towards a cause.

Volunteers come from all walks of life and this may open up a new category of people who you may not necessarily gravitate to under normal social circumstances.

8. Step out of your comfort zone

As an ex-pat you do not have the luxury of waiting for friends to come to you, you should be prepared to find them. This often means participating in the event, which you wouldn’t bother with a home.

For example, you are invited to watch a sports event at the local bar. Perhaps you are not into sport, or bars (or both), but make the effort to attend. If you enjoy their company but don’t enjoy the bar you can always invite them to join you pursuing a different activity at a later date

Trying a new sport is a great way of meeting new friends

9. A remote location can be “friend heaven”

If you are facing an international move to somewhere off the beaten track, or perhaps a “hardship posting”, don’t despair. Places like this may not have a high level of infrastructure or a huge number of ex-pats, however, in situations such as this people cannot afford to be too selective about who they befriend.

There is little room for cliques in environments like this and you may find it easier to be accepted into small groups and make friends quickly. Many ex-pats find this type of experience preferable to an international relocation to somewhere like Hong Kong or Dubai.

10. Be prepared for an increased turnover of friends

If you find you have narrowed your choice to 2 companies it may be worth visiting both companies in person to see their office and just as importantly their warehousing facility.

You may even want to turn up unannounced. If the company is happy to show you around and everything appears to be clean and orderly then it is a strong indicator the company is being run professionally and efficiently.

Bonus tip – Remember that it takes time

Depending on where your move takes you, it is likely that making good friends will take time. It is not going to happen overnight, so be prepared to work at it but don’t become too disillusioned if some people are awkward, stand-offish or even unpleasant.

Avoid trying to force things, remain as genuine as you can and you will find the people who gravitate to you are likely to remain firm, perhaps life-long, friends. Good luck!