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Making Friends

March 12, 2009

I was over at zenhabits last night and one of Leo’s blog readers was asking about the best way to find friends in a new city.

Making friends in a new city is always a challenge for military wives. The military member at least has a job to go to on arrival. He (or she, as the case may be) immediately has co-workers to talk to. While he may not become friends with them, at least it is a starting point for developing a personal life.

The military wife on the other hand on top of managing her fair share of the DHG&E, may have to find a job in her new location. And what happens if she doesn’t speak the language?

It certainly is a challenge meeting new people so here is a list of a few things I’ve learned over the years.

Ask questions that anyone can answer. For example, walk up to someone and say, “Hi, I’m new in the neighbourhood/city and I noticed your lovely hair style. Would you mind if I got the name of your hair dresser?” – Women love that one but men, not so much. So for a guy you could try “Hey, nice car/bike/chainsaw/lawnmower. I’m in the market for one of those. Where did you get yours?”

If you’re a parent talking to another parent you’ve got an edge because you can ask, “Would you be able to recommend a good coach for [insert sport or activty here]?” or “What [insert sport or activty here] do you recommend that my kids get involved in?”

Just to start a conversation. You will at least start meeting people who will connect you with more people…and so on and so on.

Other options:

Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) – This is the community centre for military families. They have lots of activities for people of all ages. They also provide connections to the civilian community.

Faith Place (eg. church) – We always try to attend services at a local church. Many of the people that attend services are well established in the local community and are great resources for information on all types of things from finding a quality auto mechanic to finding a great babysitter.

Activities – We try to participate in activities that we’re interested in. We usually meet like-minded people. These activities can be organized sports or volunteering at the library.

The Internet – Ask your Tweets or Facebook friends to connect you with people in your new area. Use Google to look for meet-ups, networking groups or hobby groups in the area that you’re going to move to.

Language – When I first moved to Québec in 1993 I was not fluent in French. I walked around with dictionary. I smiled. I made an effort. I met amazing people who tried to help me learn French better. I also learned those people who weren’t willing to help and had no patience weren’t worth getting to know. You can take a class to learn the language a little better. This will not only help you speak to the locals, but you’re sure to meet some cool people in your class.

While you may never have a friend like the “best friend back home” with a positive attitude and a smile you’ll meet a many fascinating people.

What tips and tricks to you use to make friends in new places?

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7 Comments
  1. March 12, 2009 14:24

    I found some great friends at a moms group help at a large church. There is daycare provided so you get several hours to talk and meet other mom’s. Most major churches have a group like this that anyone can go and do not necessarily have to be part of the congregation

  2. March 12, 2009 22:16

    Volunteer! There is always a need for extra hands doing something. Look for an activity or group that might attract the kind of people you like, and go for it. Deliver meals to shut-ins, be a school crossing guard, sing in a choir, staff a bake sale table for the volunteer fire department. While not a military wife, I have moved a lot in my life, and I’ve found this by far the best way to make friends.

    • Canadian Army Wife permalink
      March 13, 2009 22:40

      @Niki – Thanks for the tip about the mom’s group at the church. Moms automatically have something in common with other Moms!

      @Stephanie – You’re right! Volunteering is a great way to make friends and become established in the community. Personally though, I think I’ll stay away from choir groups. My singing talent won’t make me any friends!

  3. Julie permalink
    March 14, 2009 02:04

    The local library! It amazes me that more people do not know about the resources available at libraries. It’s a great place to meet other families. Local librarians are also terrific at sharing community info. Oh, and let’s not forget the best part about libraries… you can borrow books, CDs and DVDs for FREE!! The price it right, it makes a great weekly outing for the family, and it is definitely a wonderful place to make new friends in a new community.

    • Canadian Army Wife permalink
      March 15, 2009 22:00

      Great idea Julie! The local library would be a great place to meet new people AND get help if you’re just learning the language AND occupy the kids too!
      Meet new people, learn new stuff – what could be better?? (maybe eat good food?)

  4. March 16, 2009 23:34

    I have moved many times in my adult life (nope, not because of the army). I found the best way to meet people was to host a party and invite people I had only met in passing. Most people are quite pleased with the invite, and not shy about coming.

    The Urbane Lion and I entered our relationship with our own set of established friends. We started off hosting parties combining these two groups. That worked really well. Now we are expanding that to invite people new to both of us.

    You don’t have to go to a lot of work. Some food, some music, some mingling, and the guests take over and do the rest.

    Oh, and I NEVER bother dusting before a party. Seriously, if a person is looking that hard, they really aren’t into the party that much 🙂

    • Canadian Army Wife permalink
      March 17, 2009 15:32

      @ Urban Panther – Good idea about the party – especially the bit about dusting!

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