Many people relocate from a longtime hometown as they get older. It might be for a new job, to be closer to adult children or grandchildren, to assist an aging parent, or for a change of climate. Regardless of the reason, making new friends after a move is one of the toughest things to do. Once the boxes are unpacked and house has been set up, you realize that finding people to share time with might just be a bigger job than the actual move.
Socialization has long been believed to improve a person’s psychological well-being. Having a circle of friends can enrich brain health and even mortality. When we move as older adults meeting new people may not come as easily as when we were younger. Gone are the days when we meet other parents at the elementary school or at weekend soccer games.
We may have to search a little harder for a new friend, but there are ways to do it, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Following a recent move from my hometown in another state, my husband and I have found that we have had to step out of our comfort level, but our individual happiness is more important than feeling awkward. Not only that, the reward is worth the effort.
Here are several ways to meet new people and make new friends.
- Volunteer: Find an organization in your community that serves a purpose you are passionate about and jump in. People love volunteers, and you will feel good about helping others while meeting new folks.
- Find a church: It may take a few visits to several different ones before you find the right fit, but it will be worth it when you feel a part of that community.
- Get a dog!: I have two, but if you don’t have one, I strongly suggest owning a furry friend. Walking dogs to the nearby park on a regular basis has allowed me the opportunity to meet a number of other dog-loving people.
- Take a class: If there is something that you have always wanted to learn, there is no better time than now. Whether it’s discovering photography or becoming skilled at fly-fishing, you will certainly meet others who share your same interest.
- Put yourself out there: My husband and I recently attended a neighborhood event and met a number of people who we enjoyed talking to. Although it wasn’t easy, we recently contacted one couple and made dinner plans. Remember that when you move to a new area, many friendships are already established. If you want to make new friends, you will have to reach out.
If it’s lifelong friendships you’ve left behind, it will take some time to create new ones. Keep in contact with old friends, but seek out new ones as well. There is great joy in meeting people and developing new friendships.