Just arrived and looking to make new friends in London? Ok, don’t despair, help is at hand.
Moving to a new city can be exhilarating – there’s so much to see and do – new food, new places, new architecture, new people. However, leaving friends and family behind can be daunting too. You might have a new course or job to get to grips with, unfamiliar areas to navigate, a new language to learn, not to mention having to cope with the occasional bout of homesickness.
Making friends can certainly help, of course. However, finding people you have something in common with is not always easy. It’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive about meeting new people. After all, London can be a bit intimidating at times, given the sheer size and scale of the place. If you know where to go and what to do, however, making new friends in the city can be as easy as child’s play. In order to help you find your feet, here’s City Countdown’s guide to the 10 best ways to make new friends in London.
1. Choose your accommodation wisely
Get this one right and you might not have to worry about making new friends in London at all. The right accommodation can easily unlock a world of social possibilities, and possibly a ready made gang of friends, just waiting to discover the town together. However finding the right place can be a difficult task. Here are our tips:
Ask questions when you go to see the property. Questions like “how many of you are there?”, “Is there a communal area?” and “do you socialise together?” will help you establish if it’s the right place for you.
Make sure you get to meet ALL of your potential flat mates before you commit to anything too. You can tell an awful about a person from the first meeting, so do take the opportunity to probe them gently (by which we mean conduct a full interrogation).
Spare Room is a great place to start, if you are looking for accommodation. The app is really comprehensive and the listings contain useful information about the makeup and preferences of each household.
2. Start frequenting a local pub or cafe
Don’t leave it for a couple of weeks or months, check out your local area as soon as you possible. Where do the locals go? Is there a popular pub or cafe? If there is: is it frequented by the type of people you’d like to meet? If your answer to the last two questions is yes, then you need to make yourself a permanent fixture there. Now.
Better yet, if you get to know the owners of the venue, they might even introduce you to some of the regulars. If your local hangout is a pub, then a bevvy might just help to loosen you up – don’t go overboard however, as to our knowledge, nothing good has ever come from vomiting on someone’s shoes.
3. Join a gym
OK, I know this sounds desperate, but it really is a win-win strategy. The worst case scenario is that you get impressively fit, the best is that you get impressively fit and you also meet someone who is er…impressively fit. Either seems like a winner to us.
There are an impressive number of new sports clubs that mix getting fit with getting social these days. Project Awesome is a great example. Billing themselves as “the rainbow chinks in a city of grey”, Project Awesome (every time we say it, it makes us smile) are a free fitness movement offering ‘badass workouts’. The organisers say “we hug. we high five, we behave like overgrown children and get ‘accidentally’ badass fit in the process”. Honestly, what’s not to like?
Another win win strategy. Volunteering benefits the community, it help makes the world a better place, and it can make you feel good about yourself in the process. It can seriously increase your social circle too. If you’re not sure where to start, do a quick Google search. It should turn up lots of good opportunities.
For example, why not check out The Sock Mob. A group of friendly volunteers, the Sock Mob are dedicating to helping homeless people in the city. The group spend their days getting to know individuals who have found themselves on the streets and providing some much needed tlc.
The group say “we are a group who engage with the homeless in London by cutting through the misconceptions, prejudice and fear that often accompany stereotypes of rough sleepers and other vulnerable groups in the city. We walk, sit and talk with them in a moment of mutual learning and trust, driven by the ethos of unconditional human contact and friendship”. Nice.
5. Take up a new hobby
Whether you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook, paint or swim, now’s the time to seize the opportunity and do something. You’ll add another string to your bow and maybe even make some like minded new friends. There’s no better time to bond than when you are mutually engaged in a challenging activity. Attending a class on a regular basis will give you enough time to get to know each other, and the activity itself should provide you with ample subject matter for conversation.
London has a bewildering array of day and evening courses and so there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy. Check out the following links for some great ideas: City Lit London, Imperial College, City of Westminister College.
6. Go online to get offline
I know, I know. The world and its dog is encouraging you to limit the amount of time you spend online, but sometimes the best way to find new friends offline is to go online.
Bumble BFF, Peanutand Huggle are all great choices for meeting new people in London and the great thing about using a friendship app to find people is that everyone should be on the same page from the beginning. This means you are more like to find people who are genuinely looking for friendship and less likely to find people who confuse your friendly advances for something more.
7. Make friends at work
OK, easier said than done right? Well, not necessarily. The secret to making friends at work is getting away from your desk and finding the place where everyone suddenly dissapears to. Whether it be the watercooler or the kitchen, find that place and make it yours.
Start reading a daily newspaper (if you don’t already) so that you know what’s going on IRL and bone up on the latest must see terrestrial and Netflix shows so you know what the latest craze is. Oh, we know it’s corny but there really is no better ice breaker when getting to know people in London than talking about the weather. Strange but true.
8. Join a dining group
One of the very best ways of meeting new people in London is sharing food together. There are a variety of clubs out there but we particularly like EatWith (formally the Grub Club).
Eatwith is a platform that allows pre-selected hosts to share their culinary skills with other members of the network. Events are hosted in a variety of locations, from a member’s two bedroom flat in Hackney to a swanky new tower block. The club’s events give members the perfect opportunity to bond while discovering some truly amazing cuisine.
9. Take a London walking tour
There are so many benefits to going on a walking tour. You get to discover parts of the city that you probably never knew existed, you get to experience the great outdoors, and walking is a fantastic form of exercise. However, in addition to all of that, walking tours are a great way of making friends and meeting new people.
There is something really natural and relaxed about chatting to people while taking a stroll. The fact that you are pursuing an activity together lessens the pressure to keep up a conversation and you can always just admire the view if the conversation dries up.
There are countless walks and tours to choose from but if you’d like to meet new people then the London Walks company are absolutely excellent.
10. Join the Meetup community
No guide to how to make friends in London would be complete without mentioning Meetup. If you don’t know the platform already, then there will never be a better time to change that. The website allows users to make new friends by joining or hosting a group. The groups are designed to allow the members to pursue an interest or hobby with group organisers arranging events so that members can get together to pursue these hobbies.
Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the ten best ways to make new friends in London. We know that moving to a new city can be difficult, and London can certainly be an intimidating place at first, but if you follow our simple tips, you’ll be establishing your own friend group in no time.
Finding suitable accommodation, checking out the local area, making the most of technology, and joining a group or club can all help you make new friends in London. However, the best possible strategy is also the simplest – just smile and be yourself. Who knows what could happen?
If you are looking for cool things to do in the city, check out our section on the best activities in London.
For more help and guidance on finding your feet in the capital, please click here: New To London