How to Meet People and Make Friends as a Digital Nomad
The digital nomad lifestyle is only increasing in popularity, with more and more people ditching their desk jobs for a life of travel and freedom.
I’ve done it myself.
However, before I took the leap and embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, there was one question that plagued me: How can I make new friends in a new city?
I craved the excitement of traveling, and nothing about my remote job was stopping me from packing up and taking to the road, but I was terrified of moving to a brand-new city, being lonely, and having trouble forming new friendships.
Even in cities with thriving digital nomad communities, you still have to be proactive if you want to strike up new friendships, but luckily, there are tons of easy ways to make new friends as a digital nomad.
Here are my tried-and-tested ways to meet new people while living the digital nomad life:
1. Master the art of breaking the ice
If you’re asking yourself, “How can I make friends in a new city?” your first priority should be to master the art of breaking the ice.
Striking up a conversation with a stranger might not come naturally to you, but the more you practice, the easier it will get—and you’ll soon learn that you were worrying about nothing!
If you want to meet fellow digital nomads, just head to a laptop-friendly coffee shop and scout out somebody who looks the part. If you feel nervous about starting up a conversation, never underestimate the power of eye contact and a friendly smile!
You can open up the conversation by asking them to watch your things while you use the restroom, and when you get back, you can thank them and ask them if they have any recommendations for other places to work, as you’re new to the city.
Chances are, they will be more than happy to talk and share their wisdom with you. As Dale Carnegie teaches in his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” people love being seen as important—and you just may end up coming away with a new friendship!
Tips from a Landing Member
“Going to bars, concerts, and other events by myself has also been a great way to meet new people. For me, it’s as simple as striking up a conversation with the person next to me. Since I’m usually in a major city, the icebreaker is almost always about where we’re from. If we hit it off, then we’ll make plans to meet up again for another activity. And just like that, I have a new friend!”
— Landing Member Jess Goudreault, “What It’s Like to Travel as a Solo Woman”
2. Harness the power of social media
Social media can be a blessing and a curse, but when it comes to meeting people in a new city, it’s invaluable.
Not only can you quickly make a post on Facebook or share your plans on your Instagram story to see whether you know anybody in the place you’re heading to, but apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram often have specific “digital nomad” groups that are full of people just like you!
Telegram in particular is very popular in certain destinations, and you’ll often find expat/digital nomad events being organized every night of the week in these groups to encourage friendship.
Another great social media app to take advantage of if you’re moving to a new place is TikTok (no, you’re not too old, I promise!).
TikTok is becoming very location-focused, meaning that you can let the app know where you are and it will show your content to other people in that area. Use keywords such as “digital nomads in (the city you’re in)” in your video description, and watch as those people find your content and begin to reach out.
My last tip when it comes to forming new friendships on social media is finding local Facebook groups.
Facebook groups are a great resource where you can ask questions and get very specific answers from people who have been in your situation, but there are often groups dedicated to hobbies, such as meeting up to go hiking or play football.
If you’re not very sporty, fear not—pretty much every city on the planet has its own book club where you can enjoy a coffee and chat about what you’re reading in an easygoing social setting.
Facebook groups are going to be your new best friend when you begin living the digital nomad life.
3. Join a coworking space
If you’ve never used a coworking space before, it might sound like a waste of money. After all, why would you want to pay to use a workspace when you have a perfectly good desk in your apartment?
However, coworking spaces are full of digital nomads and remote workers who love using the spaces to network and make new friends.
Additionally, most coworking spaces organize social events like pizza nights, trivia, language exchanges, and more, so by becoming a member, you’re essentially getting a ready-made friendship group!
4. Rely on friends, family, and word of mouth
Word of mouth is quite possibly one of the greatest things in life, but so many people just don’t take advantage of it.
Before you get to your new city, talk to friends and family to see if they know anyone there! This is a great shortcut to making friends.
It might feel a little awkward at first—after all, you don’t really know these people—but if you both have a mutual friend in common, you’re off to a good start in your relationship with them. Not only that, but they might introduce you to their friends, and from there, you’re only going to meet more and more new people.
Even if you don’t hit it off and wind up with a close friendship, having an acquaintance who knows your friends or family back home is a great thing to have in a new city.
5. Use Meetup to find people with shared hobbies
When it comes to making friends as a digital nomad in a new city, Meetup is one of the most powerful tools you can have at your disposal. Meetup is an app designed for people looking to find friends online, and you can find or create Meetup groups for pretty much anything.
When I moved to Valencia in Spain, I found Meetup groups dedicated to everything from yoga to board games, cryptocurrency, techno music, rock climbing and so much more.
Another great thing about Meetup is that you can actually see who has already said “yes” to an event, which is a great way of figuring out what kind of people are going and how big the event will be. Plus, if you don’t see something that interests you already on the app, you can easily create your own event.
An alternative to Meetup for making friends is Couchsurfing.
Most people think that Couchsurfing is just a place to find a free place to stay, but there is also an active CS community in almost every city on the planet where you can find events for travelers, locals, expats, and nomads to meet up and get to know each other.
6. Give Bumble BFF a go
Although Bumble is most well-known for being a dating app, there is actually a “BFF” feature on the app that you can use solely for friendship. You simply select whether you want to use the app for finding a relationship, friendship, or networking (Bumble Bizz is another option if you want to forge more professional relationships), and set up your profile, making sure to include the things you like to do and what you’re looking for in a BFF.
You will be able to form a connection with people who have similar interests, strike up a conversation, and arrange to meet up. Bumble BFF is definitely more common with females looking to make new friends, but men can definitely use it as well.
My best tip with Bumble BFF is to arrange a meeting as soon as possible. Nobody likes talking endlessly on social apps, so simply ask your potential new friend if they want to grab a coffee or a drink and see how it goes from there!
7. Take a class
No, I don’t mean go back to school—I mean learn something fun or unusual and meet new people at the same time! Every city will offer something different in this regard, but you could learn anything from cooking to yoga or salsa dancing to life drawing.
The obvious bonus of taking a class as a way to make new friends is that you will automatically be thrown into a community of people who have at least one shared interest with you.
8. Join a language exchange
Another great place to meet people is a language exchange. A language exchange is an evening event that usually takes place in a bar, where people go to practice a new language and help others do the same.
For example, if you attend a Spanish/English language exchange, you might talk to a native Spanish speaker for 10 minutes in English, correcting them on any mistakes they make, and then switch to Spanish, where they will then help you.
Not only will you be learning a new skill, but you’ll be making connections at the same time (and hopefully having fun in the process!).
9. Attend a digital nomad event
Did you know that there are massive conferences and events for people like you? Digital nomad events attract not only digital nomads, but also remote workers, entrepreneurs, expats, travel bloggers, and a whole host of other people who have decided to live life on their own terms.
These events are a great way to make connections in the community, meet people who might be based near you (or are planning to be soon), and learn something new.
To find digital nomad events happening near you, just Google “digital nomad event + (the state you’re in)” and see whether anything comes up!
10. Volunteer for a local cause
If you feel passionate about helping people, then why not volunteer at a soup kitchen, refugee center, or another organization with a cause close to your heart?
People often volunteer at charities and nonprofits for weeks at a time, so chances are, you’ll make some good friends who are actually sticking around in the area for a while. Plus, you’ll get to do some good in the local community!
Making friends as a digital nomad: Final thoughts
Striking up new friendships as an adult isn’t easy, especially when you have a remote job and your coworkers are on the other side of the country (or even further afield!).
Moving to a new city where you don’t know a single person is one of the scariest things that we can do as an adult, but luckily, there are so many ways to make new friends while traveling and living the digital nomad life, that loneliness really shouldn’t be a part of your nomad journey.
Lastly, if you’re a digital nomad looking for short-term apartment stays, Landing offers fully furnished apartments in over 375 cities across the U.S., all with flexible lease terms and no application fees or deposits. All of our apartments are designed with digital nomads in mind, so feel free to browse our stunning fully furnished apartments, or contact us to learn more about why digital nomads love living with Landing.
“What I’ve Learned After My First Year Living as a Digital Nomad” by Jess Goudreault