Wondering how to make friends in London? Here’s all my tips and advice for making friends in a new city — from a five year London expat. Enjoy!
Leaving all my family and friends behind at 18, I hopped on a plane 3,000 miles away and never looked back.
Okay, that was dramatic…but it’s what happened! Moving to London without knowing anyone was definitely the hardest part of moving abroad, but five years later I’ve been able to find some of my closest friends in this city, and it’s because of the tips below. From me to you, here’s how to make friends in London (or any city).
Why is it Important to Make Friends in London?
When people ask me what are the cons of living in London I always say it’s a transient city. That means people are always coming and going, which can make it hard to maintain friendships.
But, in Candace nature, if you flip this to the positive side you’ll realize the more friends you make in London (assuming you don’t stick to the expat bubble, which we’ll get to…) the more international friends you’ll have for the future.
Should I Find a ‘Squad’ or Friend Group in London?
If you’ve watched any big city movie, it’s easy to think that you need a group of your 5 closest friends all together Friends style in order to have a healthy friend group. Personally, I’ve tried it, and it didn’t work for me.
Not only do you have to deal with group dynamics, but it can make it harder to branch out and make new friends with different interests if you’re always hanging around the same people.
Of course, if you naturally make a group of friends, go for it! But I highly suggest seeking individual relationships when you’re making friends in London. This allows you to get to know someone more deeply and meet their friends to make new friends.
Like I said, London is a transient city, so having lots of friendships with one other person really comes in handy if people around you start leaving London…
Now that you now why you need to make friends in London, here’s how to find them:
How to Make Friends in London With ‘HWS’
Most people make friends in three places — home, work, and school. If you’ve got flatmates, a new job in London, or you’re just starting at university, this puts you in a prime position to start making friends from the moment you land in London.
Making Friends in London at Home
Moving into a flatshare is a great way to make new friends when you first move to a new city.
If you’re still on the flathunt, use sites like Idealflatmate.co.uk to find compatible roommates from the start! Otherwise, make sure you hang around communal areas like the kitchen or living room (when you know your flatmates will be around) and start by asking a question.
It’s a super easy way to break the ice with someone new as its non intrusive, and shows you trust them with giving you advice. For example “Hey, do you know where the best pub is around here?” etc…
Who knows, you may be off to the pub with them now!
Making Friends in London at Work
Some people feel a bit iffy about befriending their colleagues, but in London, work is very much mixed with play, and you’ll often find co-workers out and about post 9-5.
Because of this (depending on your job), you should be asked to join social outings from the start. This includes everything from Happy Hours to Ping Pongs nights, and really anything to get a bit social after working the 9-5. If your workplace it’s particularly social, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask a colleague you get on with if they’d like to meet up outside of work sometime.
But, if like me, you work remote or you’re a freelancer, you’ll have to go about this a bit differently. I suggest working from co-working spaces or coffee shops in London when you can. Co-working spaces especially encourage people to be social and connect, so be sure to test that water cooler chat of yours to see if you share similar interests with anyone!
Remember, if you’re feeling a little shy, a question is the best way to avoid being intrusive while starting a conversation.
Making Friends in London at School
Moving to London for university is the easiest way to make friends in the city, but you still have to be proactive.
Most universities in the UK hold an annual “Fresher’s week” to welcome new students with tons of social events. If you want to make friends in London, I highly suggest going to as many as you can, as well as the events and fairs your university offers. Here you’ll be able to join different clubs and societies and I highly joining at least one.
Everyone is also way more open and friendly pre exams, so be sure to capatilize on the friend making opportunities at the start of university!
Join Walking Tours
Walking tours are one of my favorite ways to see a city from a new perspective. Not only are the guides super knowledgeable, but you’re surrounded people that want to soak in the city as much as you do!
Now, I know what you’re thinking, won’t there just be tourists on my walking tour? — it depends! Of course, you’ll get your visitors (which can still be cool friendships to make for the future) but you’ll often get people like me too, Londoners that want to see more of their city.
Since it’s an environment where you’re expected to talk and engage, it’s easy to start chatting to someone and possibly leave with a newfound friendship.
You can find some cool walking tours in London here.
I know I know, this sounds totally counterproductive. But do you ever notice people are more willing to approach you when you’re by your ones?
Maybe it’s some weird herd mentality thing, but it works! When you’re out exploring London with no “herd” people are suddenly a little more open to starting conversations.
Now, I’ll admit, London isn’t the friendliest place in the world, so it won’t happen all the time (and they may not always be looking friendship if you know what I mean), but always leave your options open for the possibility of finding friends on a day out alone in London.
Read More: 25+ Things to do Solo in London
Join Hobby Groups
Although it’s important to put yourself out there, I’d say it’s equally important to find people with shared interests. At least at first, it’s way easier to bond over things with someone who is into the same hobby than someone random you meet by any of the ways above.
So, take a notepad and write down every hobby and interest you can think of. Even if it’s something you haven’t done in a while, there’s nothing like a new city to reignite old passions.
Once you have your list, it’s time to find some hobby groups! The best way to find hobby groups in London is definitely through Facebook groups. If you type in keywords like [Insert Your Hobby or Interest] in London it should bring up dozens of the most current and active groups for that niche.
If you still feel a little stuck, here’s some examples of the kinds of groups or activities you can join for different hobbies:
Fitness: Take group fitness classes at your local park or gym
Yoga: Find a weekly yoga class in your local area or gym
Sports: Join a local league in your area and attend professional games in London
Writing: Register for a writing group or attend Poetry (like Chocolate Poetry in Camden — so good!)
Travel: Go on trips throughout London and the UK with companies that specialize in group/female/youth travel
Books: Join a London book club
Movies: Register for a film club in your borough
Anime: Sign up for an Anime meetup club to watch your favorite shows
Religion: Join a local church in your area
Politics: Attend public gatherings and political events in London
Activism: Get involved and take action with community organizations in your area
Volunteering: Help London charities and causes you care about
Photography: Photowalks happen all the time in London, find one to join!
Philosophy: Attend talks and workshops around London (like School of Life)
Languages: Take in-person language lessons and find a language partner
Art Buff: Join a local art class and Hosted Museum and Art Gallery Tours Tours through Airbnb
Beer: Do the Bermondsey Beer Mile or frequent your local pub
And any other hobby you can think of!
Living in London is also the perfect time to try something new. So don’t be afraid to bounce around different hobbies and activities if you’re not sure what your interests are yet, you’d be surprised to see what sticks!
Social Groups & Resources for How to Make Friends in London
Here are a few specific resources, apps and groups you can join to make friends in London:
Obby: In-person group classes for a range of hobbies throughout London. Join here.
Citysocializer: Platform for young professionals to find fun and social events across London. Join here.
Thinkingbob: Platform for unique and socials events across London. Join here.
Team London Volunteering: Volunteering opportunities in the city from the Mayor of London. Join here.
Bumble BFF: The cousin to the dating app Bumble, matching you with other Londoners looking for platonic relationships. Join here.
Vina: Basically Tinder for platonic relationships. Join here.
Eatwith: A platform for foodies where pre-selected hosts host supper clubs in London and share their cooking skills meals with other platform members. Join here.
Rabble: A meetup group for social team games in London (like British Bulldogs and Capture the Flag). Join here.
Project Awesome: Free fitness classes throughout London, it’s pretty awesome. Join here.
Groupon Events: Not specifically for group meetups, but joining a Groupon class could lead to your next friendship in London! Browse here.
Oh…and Don’t Fall For the Expat Trap
Something I definitely fell for when I first moved to London was the expat trap. In all honesty, the comfort you feel when you meet someone from your home country in London is unmatched.
But, if you’re constantly socializing with other expats, you’ll never get the chance to meet and learn about all the people and cultures London has to offer — in other words, you’ll be stuck in the expat trap; leaving London realizing you can count all your British and international friends on one hand, and totally regretting it.
Don’t be that person! Take advantage of London’s diversity to branch out and to make friends with people from around the world.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Friends in London
Making friends in a new city is never easy, but it is doable. By taking initiative, saying yes, and following the steps above and you’ll make friends in London in no time. Let me know how you get on on Instagram!
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