Top 10 Ways to Meet People – (And You Don’t Have to be New in Town)

I wrote a post last week about what moving to a new country can really look like. So many of you wrote me notes with your own horror stories. Holy guacamole, I thought my goat in the basement story was good but a few of you have really done it tough on arrival!

Which brings me to my next post.

Many of you mentioned that although you can laugh about it now, finding your feet in a new location can be a soul destroying exercise. The most common question I’m asked is “How do you make new friends or meet people?”

I recently wrote a post for Time Out Kids. It’s not online so I can’t include a link, but if you’re in Doha you can find the lift out in this month’s Time Out, it’s a back to school feature and full of ideas on great activities for families. However, if you’re further afield, here’s my top 10 tips on how to make friends if you’re new in town:

1. Park it

Although the summer heat in my neck of the woods can limit outdoor time at the park, on cooler days you will find play equipment and bike tracks well used. Take a picnic with some extra snacks and settle in under a tree. A ball to share, or an extra tennis racket will provide a great opportunity for new friends to join in on the fun. Encourage your children to ask others if they want to join in. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve picked up at the park 😉

2. Have you ever been to?

Perhaps you could invite a neighbour or work colleague to the beach, water park or local venue? Use your lack of local knowledge as the perfect excuse to convoy somewhere together. Have you ever been to the camel races? Do you know how we get there? Could we follow you out there next time you go?

3. Accept All Invitations

Dinner? Yes. Coffee? Yes. Playdate? Yes. Yoga for beginners? Why not, yes! Your answer to every invitation in those first couple of months should be yes. Okay, so maybe you’ve never watched a game of rugby in your life but an invitation to the local club is a great way to meet new friends. It’s time to forget about how you filled your weekends “at home” and open yourself up to some new experiences. Maybe the tour of the museum doesn’t initially sound like your thing, but the coffee and chat afterwards may provide the giggle that you’ve been missing.

4. Don’t Forget the Children

Children can provide the best icebreakers and opportunities to strike up a chat. How old is your son? I remember when my daughter was that age. Do you mind me asking which school you’re at? We’re not sure which one to choose. Are you in a playgroup? Do your children play sport here? Children often allow us to find a common parenting denominator with a stranger. If your children are younger, joining a baby or playgroup is a great opportunity to meet others who are going through a similar experience as yourself. Here in Doha, Doha Mums has connected hundreds of women who meet in various locations in Doha on a daily basis. The Doha Mum’s private forum is a great source of gossip information, advice and support. If there isn’t an official group in your area, maybe it’s time to start one?

Doha Mums:

5. Join a Club

Most cities offer the opportunity to network at a business breakfast or drinks. Don’t worry if you haven’t secured a job as yet, what better way to find one?! Be honest, tell people you’re new in town and starting to put feelers out in the local job market. If you’d prefer a more informal get together for coffee or lunch, joining a club or group will provide an instant introduction to others with similar interests. Hop online and see if you can find a community page in your current destination. 

6. Take a Course

Whether it’s silk painting, photography or web design, this could be the time for you to explore your creativity while meeting new people. Taking part in a class will not only provide the endorphins associated with learning a new skill but it’s also a pressure free environment to introduce yourself to others who share a similar interest. 

7. Ask Questions

This isn’t the time to keep quiet and just hope you’ve got it right. Ask questions. Everyone understands what it’s like to be new. If you’re not sure about where to park the car, or how to find the school uniform shop, just take a deep breath and ask someone nearby. Keep smiling, every day provides a new discovery, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’ve all been there.

8. Go Local

It’s easy as an expat to seek company in those who offer familiarity. Part of the excitement of moving to a new country is discovering new cultural nuances and a different way of living. Who better to show you Qatar than a Qatari? Expats are known for their transient nature but a local friend can often supply comfort in the fact that he or she is not about to pack up and leave.

9. Learn a new language

Has there been a more perfect time to learn a new language? Surrounded by locals, you can practice with colleagues at work or perhaps with other parents while waiting to collect the children from school. Signing up for a course is a great way to find yourself new friends and study buddies.

10. Get Sporty

Start the couch to 5k program and sign up for your first run. Join a gym, find a club, or suggest making a team with colleagues. If you have children bowling and skating are great family activities which makes them an obvious place to find other families like yours. While collecting your skates or tying up your children’s laces, you can strike up a chat with another parent. Signing your children up for soccer, baseball or tennis will guarantee time spent with other parents on the bleachers. It’s a great way for you and your children to make new friends together. If you have skills in coaching there are many clubs who would love to have your assistance. 

Okay, tell me what I’ve missed. Do you have any tips for meeting people when you’re new in town? Or even if you’re not, how do you meet people?

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