As someone that has hopped on a plane and moved to London by myself, I know exactly what you are feeling when trying to make friends in London. The city can certainly be a very lonely place when you first move over.
London is such a transient city and that can impact your group of friends as people come and go. This is certainly something that I have experienced while living here as friends’ visas expired, they wanted to move to another city, go travelling and so on.
To maintain a group of local friends you will need to build new friendships regularly.
I am sure I am not telling you anything new when I say making friends takes time and commitment to finding the people you click with. Build your initial friend network and then be prepared to go on lots of friend dates! I find a lot of people end up being lonely in the city because they don’t have the time or give up easily. Here are some ways to help you build your group of friends…
Where to Meet Friends in London?
One of the most popular places to connect with people is Facebook and there are several Facebook groups you can join that host events, you can suggest events or join other peoples groups.
There is a bit of misbalance between groups that are mixed and ladies only – sorry guys, there are more groups that the ladies can join. Don’t be shy to post your own meet-ups on these groups!
There are many more groups that you can join, these are just the ones I personally use and you will see me posting in them occasionally. I have found some great events and support in the groups.
Let’s Start with Mixed Groups
Kiwi’s in London
Facebook Group run by Clint and famous for making people read his FAQ’s (haha). There are monthly Kiwis in London drinks which are generally located in the South West/ West of London. Even if you are not a Kiwi they are a welcoming bunch so check them out.
Aussies in London
The group provides a lot of entertainment, they host a few events but not as many as Kiwis in London.
The Non-Boring London Collective.
The Non-Boring London Collective is run by Gigi and John, as expats themselves they understand the difficulty of making friends in London. They run a meet-up only group where they host various events every month plus others create side events.
Britbound is run by Sarah, who has been welcoming new faces to London since 2008. Their social package does cost money but they provide you with all sorts of other benefits to like setting up your bank account and NI Number. Without Britbound I wouldn’t have been able to establish my life in the UK.
They host lots of events at their base in Putney, pubs crawls and various other events across London.
See more about their social package here.
Ladies Only Facebook Groups
London New Girl
The group doesn’t host events itself but there are lots of people who create whatsapp groups or events on the group so just look through the search bar and see if there is something that takes your fancy.
London | Girl Gone International
The group hosts events like colouring nights and a bookclub which you can join via their meet-up page. Similar to London New girl there are lots of people posting events or groups to join. I recently joined a dinner club via this group and has been really fun so far!
Aussie & Kiwi Women in London
Recently Hayley and Kaitlyn have started a group for Aussie and Kiwi Women in London. They have been hosting quite a few events since the group started so I recommend joining if you are an Aussie or Kiwi.
Meet-up has 1000’s of events that you can join, this is great if you have a hobby like photography where there will be heaps of groups based on this. Some will cost money as the organiser can be experts in that field helping you grow your skills.
J and T Travel Adventures
Tessa and Josh run a group called J and T Travel Adventures as well as the Conscious Travel Community on Facebook. They host both events in London and trips in Europe so if you are looking for some travel buddies look at joining some of their adventures.
Move into a Share House
Finding an apartment or house in London can be soul crushing but getting the right people to live with will change your London life (no pressure ;)). Make sure you check out the Expat communities like the Facebook groups I mentioned above as they will have people advertising rooms or posts about searching for places together.
Other places you can look at Spareroom (the most popular), GumTree (be careful with scams) and Room Buddies.
On Spareroom you can create a profile telling people about you and join up with others looking for a place. When I first moved to London I met two guys that were looking for an apartment in my price range. They got in touch with my friend and I to see if we were keen and went on a few viewings together.
If you have found some buddies to rent with make sure you check out my article on How to Find a Flat in London.
Connect with People You Know
If you have acquaintances or friends of friends living in London this can be a great way to connect with people. I had an old co-worker that moved to London at the same time I did, while we were friendly at work we weren’t super close. I got in touch with her when I moved to London and she became one of my closest friends in London.
I actually find that people that know acquaintances don’t end up getting in touch and therefore miss out on potential friendships. There is something about moving overseas and bonding that changes your relationship with that person. In most cases for the better as you get a good friend and they can relate to your challenges.
Get to Know your Friends’ Friends
Do you have any friends or family members know people in London? See if they will connect you together. When I moved over my Grandma connected me with my Great Uncles Brother and while I didn’t become super close with them it was nice to hang out with family and know that they were there.
It’s amazing the kindness of people when living overseas and truly welcome you into their homes.
Pick Up Some New Hobbies
New hobbies are a great way to meet some new friends and like-minded people. Learn a new language, go on a cooking class (the Bread Ahead baking classes look amazing!) or join a sports group.
I found yoga classes a great way to meet new people, my personal favourite yoga studio is Fierce Grace which has a few locations around London.
If you are into sport, then here are some clubs you can look into:
- Some AFL for the Aussies use AFL London to find a club.
- Rugby fan use the England Rugby to find the closest club.
- For Netball try Go Mammoth, you can either join with other people or as an individual.
- Looking for a running group try the Run Together website.
Get to Know your Local
The pub culture is strong in the UK so what better way than making friends by heading to your local pub. Get involved with the events too, chances are your local will hold quiz nights, cheap food nights and much more.
Alternatively, drag your new co-workers for drinks. You will find that as long as the drinks are Monday to Thursday you will generally find someone keen to go for a drink (at least in my industry).
Go and Volunteer
Volunteering is the perfect way to help the communities around you and expand your social network. Some types of volunteering will have a wait list in London so picking less popular volunteering activities like cleaning up rubbish or something in your local community will be more available.
Just like the dating thing you can also get apps for the make your friendships. Check out apps like Hey Vina, Bumble and Citysocializer. Some of these apps we will have charges associated with them so they’re not the free way to make friends.
Citysocializer does host event quite often which you don’t need to pay to attend so just doing some of their weekly or monthly drinks and get to know the people going.
Be a Leader Rather Than a Follower
I cannot recommend this enough to be a leader rather than a follower. Make your own destiny in London and create an event and invite other people along. Advertise your event on the Facebook groups and the next thing you know you will have a sea of people joining you.
When I move to London I met my friend Mel in a hostel and ended up becoming friends. One day we started talking about book clubs and next thing I know I’m a part of a book club. We started off with a few ladies and then the group dwindled down to 3 members.
We advertised on some Facebook groups and next thing you know we have 10 new people attending our bookclub the next month.
It’s been such a success in the way that I make friends in London, every few years we have to do another recruitment run as people move away but it has been the number one way I make friends in London by running this group.
Say ‘YES’ to Everything (Within Reason)
Mimic Jim Carrey in Yes Man and just say yes to everything. Taking that leap and putting yourself out there is the best way to make friends. If you are just watching events go by and not joining any, the journey to finding friends will be longer.
Just be careful and don’t get burned out but truly it is a great way to meet a bunch of new friends.
Stay in a Hostel
When I first moved to London I stayed in a hostel for 3 months and it was the place that I made my initial friends. I even ended up moving out with one of the guys that I met and then eventually our other friend joined us in the flat.
I get that living in a hostel isn’t for everyone but they can be buzzing places and great a place you can meet people. If sharing a room isn’t up your alley then look at a private room whilst you are flat searching.
Talk to the Organisers if you have Social Anxiety
Recently on a few social media groups, there have been posts about people reluctance to come to events as they suffer from social anxiety. Everyone has a different level of anxiety and I know it can be strong enough for people to cancel.
A lot of the lovely people I have met in London will be happy to help out and try to ensure you feel comfortable. Reach out to the organisers and in most cases, they will do their best to discreetly help you to feel at ease and relaxed.
I’d hate to think people might be missing out because they’re uncomfortable. It’s not easy being away from home. Feel free to PM me on social media as well!
Hopefully, that has given you a few ideas on how to make friends in London and some of these have personally worked for me. If you have any other suggestions on how to make friends don’t forget to leave them in the comments and let’s help the community out!