Finding Your Community in a New Town: A Proven Approach to Making Friends

May 14, 2024

Moving to a new place and trying to make friends can be tough. It's easy to feel lost and isolated in an unfamiliar environment, where everything and everyone is new.

When I first moved, I struggled with this too. But then I found a surprisingly effective strategy: being a regular at a local bar. You don’t have to drink alcohol; in fact, I recommend you don't. I've tested this method in three different cities—Tucson, Bellingham (WA), and Seattle—and it consistently helped me get to know people in the area and cultivate friendships.

By frequenting a local bar, I turned a new town into a familiar community. This approach provided me with a structured way to meet new people and build lasting connections, making each new city feel like home.

The Importance of Being Social

Being social is crucial for our happiness and well-being, both physically and mentally. When we see and listen to people, and are seen and listened to by them, we feel more connected and less lonely. Here are three reasons why people struggle with finding communities and friends:

  • Fear of Rejection: Many people fear being rejected or judged when they put themselves out there. This fear can prevent them from making the first move to talk to someone new.
  • Lack of Time: Busy schedules and demanding jobs can leave little time for socializing. People might feel too exhausted to go out and meet new people after a long day of work.
  • Difficulty Finding Common Interests: It can be challenging to find a community or group of friends who share the same interests, especially in a new town where you don't know anyone.

My Method for Making Friends

When I move to a new town, I have a strategy that has worked well for me. Here's how I do it:

  • First, choose a bar that you like, that is close to where you live, and preferably has a pool table. A local spot makes it easier to be consistent, and a pool table is a great way to break the ice and bond with others.

  • Second, go there daily or every other day. Wear clean, presentable clothes for a night at the bar, and make sure you don’t smell bad. Skip the alcoholic drinks and food; it can get expensive if you're there often, and you don't want to risk gaining weight or developing a drinking problem.

  • Third, tip generously. If you decided that you won't be spending much on drinks or food, make up for it by tipping generously. If you usually tip 20%, go for 40%. Sometimes I spend the whole evening with just a Diet Coke, but I still tip $20. This makes you a favorite among the staff and can lead to quicker introductions to other regulars.

  • Fourth, don't stay more than two hours. Give people a chance to be curious about you. Just hang out on your phone or read a book, letting the bartenders and regulars see you and get familiar with you.

  • Fifth, be patient. Trust takes time. Don’t come across as needy right away. Slowly start learning people’s names and use them when you talk to them.

  • Sixth, be friendly and curious. Avoid disagreements or talking at people to prove how important or smart you are. Maybe buy someone a drink once a week. This shows goodwill and makes people more likely to want to talk to you.

  • Seventh, use the pool table. It's a great way to get out of conversations when needed and is also a great male bonding game. Furthermore, the skill to play pool well is respected and admired in that environment. You’ll meet many people and can pick and choose who to be friends with, but being gracious to everyone helps.


Making friends in a new town doesn't have to be daunting. When I moved to new cities, I found that becoming a regular at a local bar made all the difference. By tipping generously, being patient, and engaging in friendly conversations, I was able to build a solid network of acquaintances and friends. This strategy has worked for me in multiple cities, and I'm confident it can work for you too.

Give it a try, and in just two months, you'll likely have made some good acquaintances. The key is consistency and approachability. Keep me posted if you wind up taking this approach; I'd love to hear about your experiences and successes.

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