Moving abroad is tough, but sometimes making friends as an expat is even harder. Here’s everything you need to know on how to make friends as an expat in the UK – especially if you’re an introvert like me!
Join Facebook groups
As an introvert, making friends online can be a blessing. Try finding local Facebook groups nearby based on your interests. This is a great way to make friends as an expat because you’ll know the group is local and you already have an interest in common!
These types of groups could be based around anything from photography, book clubs or even a group dedicated to your town or village. I’ve seen groups dedicated to those who want hiking buddies, interests in True Crime or even those who love arty films. Once you find a group that you’re interested in, make a post to see if anyone is up for a group meet-up!
It’s important to remember to meet up in a public place, ideally as a group rather than one-on-one. And always make sure someone knows where you are going. It’s important to practice internet safety, especially as an expat in a new country.
Expat Facebook Communities
Expat Facebook communities for your new country is a great place to meet like-minded people, but there’s a few issues. Making friends solely with expats can be short-lived, as people move back home (or onward to another country). It can also be more difficult assimilating to your new country if you only socialise with other expats.
While making friends with expats is great, especially when you’re a new expat, it’s not always the best long-term.
If you’re working abroad, it’s likely that your employer or business will organise certain work activities. While it may feel silly or boring, attending work events is a great way to meet coworkers but also to get to know your fellow employees. These could be Christmas parties each year, or maybe teamwork-building getaways or professional development activities.
If any coworkers invite you to join them for a pint at a pub, accept! In the UK, many workplaces have long-stranding routines to meet at the pub after work on a Friday. These are great opportunities to get to know your coworkers and relax. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, these pub visits are an integral part of life in the UK.
It’s also super important to balance your new life working in a foreign country and also taking a break. You always need a good work-life balance, even as an expat.
Meet your partner’s friends
If you’ve moved abroad to live with your long-distance partner, meeting their friends is a great way to socialise. While it’s not ideal that you’re joining a group already well-formed and established over the years, it’s still a good way to make friends. You might find that you click well with a partner of your partner’s friend! Who knows.
Your gut instinct may be to find “your own friends” but meeting your partner’s friends is always a good place to start.
Using MeetUp can be an easy way to meet new people in your area. You can make a profile for free, add your interests and hobbies, then search for local groups. These “MeetUps” are usually based around hobbies and interests and will schedule outings that you can attend.
This is a great opportunity because many of these people are also looking for new friends, so everyone is in the same boat. Plus, you’ll know that you have at least one interest in common! While the first few meet-ups can be awkward, you may find long-lasting friendships this way.
Join a team or sports club
If you’re athletic or enjoy sports, joining a team is a great way to make friends as an introverted expat. Not only will you get some exercise and be able to participate in a sport you enjoy, you’ll also be able to meet local people!
Many teams or sports club also organise trips to the local pub that can be another great way to get to know your teammates better. Of course, joining a sports team usually isn’t free, especially if you’re playing in a league, so it’s something to keep in mind.
While you might know Bumble as a dating app, they also have BumbleBFF specifically for finding new friends. Simply create a free profile, add your interests and what you’re looking for, and start searching! You’ll be matched with other people looking for friends in your particular area. You can also add some filters to narrow down the search, such as people look for travel buddies or those who love to exercise.
This can be a great way to make some friendships online before meeting in person, especially if you feel a bit socially awkward!
How to make friends as an expat
While making friends abroad isn’t always easy (especially for those of us who are introverted) it’s still possible! By trying out some of these tips, you should be able to meet new people and hopefully make some lasting friendships.