10 Ways for expats to meet new people

Written by Diane on. Posted in on life in France

Ways for expats to meet new people

Making friends abroad is one of the hardest parts of expat life for me, and I’ve heard from a lot of you out there who are struggling with the same thing. There are so many reasons that contribute to the difficulty of making friends abroad, but it doesn’t have to be a continuous uphill battle. With a bit of effort, persistence and luck, you’ll be well on your way to creating a social circle in your new home.

Read on for my top ways for expats to meet new people!

Ways for expats to meet new people

First, keep in mind not all of these will work for everyone. If you’re married, you probably shouldn’t be poking around on a dating site. If you don’t have a dog, it might be weird to show up at a dog park. But my list should have at least one area that will work for you. 😉

My biggest tip is to put yourself out there and talk to people ALL THE TIME. If you have a dog, connecting with other dog owners at the park is a great place to start. A simple hello can turn into a few words which can turn into a friendship down the road. Sometimes people will ignore you or just reply to be polite but if you don’t try, nothing will change. Some of my efforts have majorly bombed — like when I made cupcakes for my new neighbors and they looked legitimately frightened — but my point is that I tried.

My list of ways for expats to meet new people:

Language classes

If you’ve moved to a country that doesn’t speak your native tongue, invest in a semester of language classes to both better your language skills and meet new people who are in the same boat as you are. Your desire to learn will unite you with others struggling with the same things. If you have teaching experience, you can also teach English either informally or through a language school.

FB groups

Sometimes you don’t need to look much farther than the internet to find people in similar situations. Search for expat groups in your new country and see what turns up.

Local meetup sites

If you’re looking to meet a friend, try a site like Meetup. In France the free site On Va Sortir is a popular one. Everything from hiking trips to group dinners to one-on-one meetings are posted across a variety of topics. You’ll find someone interested in the same stuff for sure.

Dating sites

Single? Looking to mingle? Sign up for Attractive World or Expat Dating in France. I hope you find a love connection!

The gym

This one is my favorite because you’re all there to work on your fitness so you already have a conversation starter and something in common. People’s guards are down at the gym so they’re easy to approach. Group fitness classes are where I’ve met all my gym acquaintances, so hit up one in your neighborhood.

Why the gym is essential to being a happy expat >>

how to meet expats book club

Book clubs

In bigger cities, you may have more of a selection and even a club or two in English. Regardless, if reading is your favorite way to unwind, absolutely find a book club in your area and dive in head first. Even if your grasp of the local language isn’t where it needs to be to understand a book, you will get there with time, so stick with it.

Career fairs

Job-focused events kill 2 birds with 1 stone.  You may find a friend and a job. Or at least others to network with and add to your professional circle.

Community events

Is there a jazz festival in your town? A charity event? A parade? Go to all of them. Just plan to walk around with no expectations.. You never know who you may bump into when out and about.

Volunteer opportunities

No matter where you live in the world, people always need a helping hand. If you have time to spare, find a volunteer opportunity that aligns with your interests. Food banks, nursing homes and animal shelters are all great places to start.


Even if you’re not religious, joining a church for the community aspect can be really helpful if you’re new to an area. A few years ago some Mormon missionaries stopped me on the street and invited me to church, so I went. It was my first and last visit because it just wasn’t my crowd, but the point is that I was open to it and went. People like feeling a part of something so if you’re open to religion, find a congregation that welcomes you with open arms.  

How have you met new people abroad?

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Comments (2)

  • Malia


    I would add the site : couchsurfing as well. They propose different groups such as language classes or various sports and can be a good way to meet people. I’ve used it several times for meeting people without using my couch. 😉


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