With 8.9 million residents in London, it can surprise people just how many people are new to the area and are looking to socialise, connect and make friends.
London is a place full of hustle and bustle. People coming and going faster than you can blink.
People are not unfriendly in London, but Londoners are a little renowned for keeping themselves to themselves. Leaving for work early, coming home late and working all manner of shifts in the 24 hour metropolis that London is.
If you are new to London or have just been so busy to begin forming new friendships and want to increase your circle of friends, then we have a list of 14 tried and tested tips and ways to make friends in London and regain your social life.
1. Start a New Hobby
There are places in London where really only tourists go and hang out, those people who come and go from London.
Anyone who has joined a hobby group or class will almost certainly be because they also live in London.
Hobby groups are great. Not only do you have an immediate ice breaker to start up a conversation with but is a great place to meet the same people on a regular basis to start forming friends.
Facebook, Meetup.com and Google searches are great places to start.
If you have a desire to learn something new or advance in a hobby you have always had a passing interest in, this can be the best of both worlds!
2. Join a Facebook Friendship Group
Unfortunately, London is considered to be the home to more people seeking friends than anywhere else in Europe.
As a result, there are a lot of friendship groups springing up on social media platforms like Facebook.
Joining such a group may spur on a friendship or an invite to a coffee morning.
3. Volunteer at a Local London Charity
There are so many ways to donate your time and help out a worthwhile charity in London, whether it’s in the City of London, West End, Mayfair or East End there are always opportunities to help.
Many people and animals in need all across the capital. It doesn’t matter what role you take but any role can provide help and support for someone or something in need.
Volunteering is also a great way to get to know and meet people, especially if they share a deep-rooted passion for the cause you’re fighting for.
Many local charities are continuously looking for volunteers.
Check out London charity websites and Facebook pages for volunteer options.
You should also visit the London Gov Team London Volunteering page, which aim to support the community as well as bringing like-minded people together.
4. Get Fit and Happy
We all should do more to increase our exercise time.
This may be the perfect opportunity to join a gym and join a gym class. Exercising can be a great social activity as well as the benefits it brings.
There are many new cheap gyms in London offering classes such as The Gym and Just Gym.
Many people attend these classes on a regular basis and can be a great way to make new friends.
5. Take a Course and Learn Something New Today
Learning something new has so many positive benefits.
Broaden your horizons, enhance and better your knowledge and abilities, and improve yourself.
It can also be a great place to interact with others, meet people and make friends.
Learning can bring people together. Learning sub-groups can often form to help one another along and I have been to a fair few where after class drinks and weekend meets have happened.
Forming friendships starts with a first introduction and common ground. Learning and course centres are one way place this happens.
6. Start Dating
Although you may only be looking for friendships you could explore dating instead and look for a life partner.
Someone to share many things with and explore and enjoy London together.
If online dating is not your thing there are always a selection of singles nights and events to be had in lots of venues across London. Simply search on Google for single night events in your part of London.
Speed dating can be a better option for the more introverted. This type of dating prevents the need for just randomly approaching someone.
7. Visit a Bar or Join a Bar Crawl
Local bars can be a good place to meet people, especially when sitting at the bar rather than a table by yourself at the back of the room.
A drink or two can help take the edge off starting a conversation with others who have also opted to go out alone.
Although this isn’t for everyone you could combine this with a bar crawl or alcohol sampling event. Both encourage introductions and getting to know others in the group and have a couple of drinks can really help nerves to disappear and conversations to grow.
There are a few popular bar crawls and alcohol events in London of which many people go solo. Many are relatively inexpensive and include a couple of drinks throughout the night.
8. Spend More Time with Work Colleagues
Even though we often spend more time with work colleagues than at home or with others, it’s surprising we know little about the people we work with.
Getting to know others outside of work is a great way to increase your circle of friends and form better working relationships.
If many people in your workplace or office simply arrive at 9am and head home at 6pm then why not suggest a meetup, or team event or even after work drinks on a Friday night.
Some work colleagues will have other commitments, but you may find others are very willing to join and could be in a similar position to yourself and have just been too busy for friends.
9. Stop Saying No!
If you are an introvert (like me) you may find yourself time and time again politely declining invitations for meetups, events, parties or get togethers.
Your excuse list may now be so long you have to remember which excuses you’ve used for different people.
As much as it may be outside your comfort zone, and your immediate reaction to any such social situation is a fear of dread, if you can find a way to overcome this it can really lead to more good nights out, and a wide network of friends.
Don’t necessarily rush in and accept everything otherwise you may start to feel overwhelmed. Start slowly and accept but just for a limited time.
This way you already alleviate expectations and have an excuse up your sleeve if you start to feel uncomfortable.
10. Clubs and Events are great places to find friends
London is so big, with so many people, you could probably find a different event on every single day of the week – and at least two on Saturdays!
Events are slightly different to hobby groups or courses, as they are usually annual or bi-annual events and designed for a group of people passionate about a certain subject together.
These are also places where people going solo get together in small groups on Facebook and meet, or you could just happen to get randomly chatting to someone and spark up a good conversation and connection.
Having been to a number of these it sometimes surprises even me just how friendly and welcoming people can be.
Only a couple of years back I attended a music event. I had never been before and knew no-one. By 6pm that evening I was sitting at a restaurant table with a group of eight really friendly and welcoming people all enjoying a meal together.
I simply got talking randomly to one person, who introduced me to another and soon it was as if a group had formed.
11. Festivals in London for Meet Ups
Music festivals are also great places to meet new people.
So many people in close proximity you’re bound to get talking to someone nearby.
Although some festivals attract people from outside London, there are many Londoners who travel solo to such events.
Drinking, music and a shared passion for the musicians and artists are all great conversation starters!
Go with the flow, embrace the opportunities and you never know you may just meet someone you really click and connect with.
It can be daunting to start talking to a big crowd, but it never hurts to strike up a conversation with other solo festival goers. Once you join together with someone, and form a small group, it’s surprising how these small groups become big groups or people!
12. Start a Club or Group
Although there are thousands of groups, clubs and activities in London, you may not necessarily find a group suited for you.
It’s no good joining a hobby group for something you’re not interested in just to make friends. It rarely works and you’ll often find you quitting before long.
If you can’t find anything suitable why not create your own club or group.
Online social media channels and pages like Facebook and Meetup really help make this easy.
It may take some time for the word to spread around, and for people to join and your community to grow, but as numbers do you can suggest places to meet, events and ways to connect.
Not only will it keep you busy, but any group leader always enjoys a close circle of likeminded friends.
13. Join a Walking Tour or Group
Putting on your walking shoes and getting out and about in London is a great way to explore the city in a way you may never have done before.
With an underground station in close proximity, regular buses and Ubers down every street, walking is a pastime we have almost forgotten – especially around London.
There are regular walking tours held around London. Many of them focus on tourists but some are for exploring hidden gems that would otherwise be unexplored.
Walking groups are popping up all the time across London.
A time for solo residents to get out and about, enjoy their home city and socialise with one another.
14. Advertise for a Flatmate
This perhaps is a last resort, and can create as many issues as it solves, but some London residents have sought out flatmates as a way of spending the time in the company of others.
You need to vet your candidates wisely, but many Londoners have found this can be a great way to meet new people and enjoy experiences you may not have if preferred not to head out solo.
It may open up a lot of new worlds to you. Finding someone with similar interests and really important that you can get along with isn’t always easy, but look for commonalities throughout the interview process.
You need to also make sure if you decide on this option and have a London rental lease that it allows sub-leasing to others.
In Conclusion – Making Friends in London
Making friends in any situation is never easy, but as statistics will show doing so in London is particularly tough.
The main point to note though is that there are many people in a similar position.
In fact, recent reports suggest as many as 4 million Londoners are looking for friends, companions and people to share experiences with.
This is a considerable number. It shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be this hard.
It’s important not to try and force friendships. They often just happen.
The chances greatly improve if you put yourself out there in as wide a number of ways to meet people as you possible can.
It also comes with practice. It can be nerve wracking to just start talking to someone. There are times and places to help encourage conversations and commonalities which has been the focus of this article.
Put yourself out there as much as possible and you may just find some very interesting people, and perhaps a friend for life.