How to Make Friends as a Senior in a New Place?

So you are a senior, perhaps divorced, perhaps widowed, and your son or daughter had convinced you to move in close to them. This way, as they say, they can take care of you; you can watch your grandchildren grow up right in front of you; you can also help out taking care of them from time to time. But what it seems a logic (and obvious) decision, can be hard on you if this means moving from your neighbourhood, your city or country.

So how to make friends as a senior in a new place? The best way of making new friends in a new country would be being (1) persistent and (2) creative. That means doing things such as create a routine and trying to go to the same place again and again, or joining group activities that you like. Eventually you will get to know the people and you will be invited to all sorts of gatherings. 

Moving to a new country comes with a host of challenges – from weird cultural quirks to finding a place to live. But one of the toughest is meeting new people, and if you are a senior, this challenge is even greater. Therefore, if you don’t have much energy left to social gatherings, or don’t have a job to go to, nor colleagues to see everyday, you will have to be both persistent and creative.

How do Seniors Meet Other Seniors in a New Place?

There are 5 general tips you can follow to meet other seniors while you are settling down in another country.

1. Don’t fear the familiar

Many people that move to live in another country like to boast of how they “really got under the skin of a country” or “immersed themselves in the local culture”. Additionally, there is seemingly a level of honour in severing ties with home. 

But there is no shame in seeking familiarity when you first arrive. It doesn’t make you ignorant to want friends in a similar situation or from a similar background. As time passes and you settle in, you can make more of an effort to integrate with local culture.

2. Get Social

There are hundreds of location-based groups for immigrants on Facebook and LinkedIn or Twitter. In addition, there are numerous online forums and organisations that cater to new arrivals.  

It’s also a good idea to join a Senior Dating Site. If you are up to it, today’s 50+ dating sites can be great ways to meet seniors – even if you are not interested in beginning a relationship. Our Time is one such site, but there are many others. Once you create an online profile and have the opportunity meet others online before committing to meeting them in real life.

Furthermore, you can look at Senior Meetup Groups. is another online social group that connects individuals with others with common interests (as opposed to those interested in dating). You can create a profile entering your location and your interests, to find others who share your love for dancing, photography or culinary. Eventually, you can narrow your search by inserting “senior” in your search and you’ll see opportunities to meet others in your age group, if you prefer.

3. Learn the language, the culture, history and the politics

Taking a language class is a great way to find new friends. Besides, it allows you to meet other people from where you came from in a similar situation and also interact more closely with locals. It’s a win-win situation.

If you already speak the national language of your new country, you could try to learn its second language (if there is one) and really impress the locals.

As well as joining classes or courses there are often language exchange options available which can offer a more personalized and reciprocal learning experience.

The same goes to culture, history and politics. Read newspapers and magazines, try to understand how locals think and act, and from where they come from to think and act the way they do.

4. Enjoy your own company

It’s important to learn how to be comfortable in your own company.  Being able to spend hours, if not days, wandering a new town or city, people-watching, or reading a book is a must.

This attitude is invaluable when settling into a new country. By this, I am not saying you need to excommunicate yourself and head for the hills to “find yourself” – only that you’ll find settling in so much easier if you are comfortable being on your own.

5. Keep your old friends close

Even though they’re thousands of miles away on the other side of Earth, a good old friend will always be there for you. A chat on Facebook or a quick call on Skype can work wonders and cheer you up after a lonely day or frustrating journey home after grappling with the ticket-machine at the station.

It’s not easy to always stay in touch – you’ll likely be on different time zones and schedules – but good old friendships are precious, so cultivate them as best you can.

How to be Persistent to Make New Friends as a Senior in a New Place?

5 tips on being persistent while making new friends as a senior in a new country:

1. Don’t fear rejection

Keep in mind that not everyone is going to be friendly or welcoming, that’s totally fine. Besides, not everyone back home was your friend either. So it’s okay to meet up with someone every now and again to grab coffee; you don’t need to become best friends.

2. Talk to strangers

You should be willing to chat to people you meet on the go. That means that you will need look up, catch people’s eyes and be more open and approachable.

3. Smile to strangers

A common language always helps, but even without a common language, just keep on smiling and be nice to everyone; listen to people and be considerate of the people around you.

4. Follow leads

Say yes to the neighbour’s offer of coffee. Likewise, if a contact says they know someone in your new city whom you might like, follow it up and see where it goes. Whatever it is, follow these leads and see where they go. If nothing else, this will help you get to know your new environment and explore your new town.

5. Create a routine

Create a routine and try to go to the same place again and again, like a park, a restaurant or a supermarket. Eventually people will start to recognize you in these places, they will start smiling and talking to you more often.

How to be Creative to Make Friends as a Senior in a New Place?

It’s also important being creative while making new friends as a senior in a new country. For that, it’s worth expanding your notion of what friends should be. Don’t get hung up on only finding like-minded people; friends don’t have to be the same age as you or from a similar background or even speak the same language. Besides, common ground can usually be found with anyone if you try.

5 tips on being creative while making new friends as a senior in a new county:

1. Be part of a faith-based community

Being part of a faith community is huge. Moreover, common faith helps transcend cultural differences, breaks down potential barriers to friendships and brings people of different nationalities together.

Many places of worship make it easier to meet seniors in your area by forming groups that participate in activities or volunteer within the community. In addition, they can facilitate seniors meeting seniors through social events, day trips or outings.

2. Volunteer

There are many opportunities for seniors to volunteer and it doesn’t need to be all faith-based. It’s more about whether you are fit and active or not.

Individuals who are handy and active can consider volunteering with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. I actually volunteered with Habitat for years and it was a great way to meet new people with common interest while doing something good in return. It’s another case of win-win situation.

Seniors who are less mobile can still meet seniors by volunteering at the local public library’s information desk or assisting families at food pantries.

3. Be part of a book club (or knit club or any other sort of club) at the local public library

Talking about local public library, this is a perfect place to meet new seniors friends. It usually hosts different kind of clubs, I am sure you will find one that suits you.

4. Subscribe yourself to a Continuing Education Classes

Many community colleges offer courses specifically for seniors and these academic adventures can be a great way for seniors to meet other seniors.  There are non-credit, community courses in painting, ceramics, culinary arts, gardening or other active areas of study.

In addition, many colleges offer classes that are free (or significantly discounted) for senior students.

5. Take a Senior Fitness Class

Additional opportunities to meet seniors in your area can be found in senior fitness classes.  Private gyms and local YMCAs offer activities specifically for seniors. 

Even for individuals who are less mobile, they can still be active if the gym offers chair yoga or other courses appropriate for limited mobility.

If you really want to take the creativity into the next level and you feel comfortable in spending a whole day (or a weekend) away, you can to sign up to Take a Senior Trip – either with a local travel company that offers day trips or with organizations that specialize in trips for seniors.

Don’t be Too Hard on Yourself While Making Friends as a Senior in a New Place

While making new friends as a senior in a new country, my most importantly advice is: don’t be hard on yourself

It’s essential to give yourself plenty of time. Things don’t tend to happen overnight and can take longer than you expect. Besides, moving to a new city can be daunting enough; leaving your old friends and family will probably be one of the toughest things you ever do, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Keep in mind that not everyone can be that person: that confident and popular extrovert who makes it all look so effortless.

Eventually you will get to know the people, the neighbourhood, the city, and you may start to feel “home” again.

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