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19 Things I Have Learned About How To Make Friends In Sydney Or Anywhere Really

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Wondering how to make friends in Sydney, but finding it a massive struggle, to the point you’re thinking about jacking it all in to move back home? You’re not alone.

Time Out said Sydney is the third worst city in the world for making new friends (after Stockholm and Copenhagen), but is this really the case? While it’s true expats and some Australians from Interstate might find it difficult to connect with Sydneysiders and make new friends, we openly talked about this on our Insta Stories recently and learned a lot from our followers.

So, we’re going to talk more in depth about this topic and give you some tips for what you can do to help better your mental health and social life in Sydney.

But, this making new friends article is not just for people living in Sydney, it applies to anyone living anywhere really.


18 Things I Have Learnt About How To Make friends In Sydney Or Anywhere

1. Have we forgotten how important it is to make friends as an adult?

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As we get older, why is it our friendship groups are getting smaller and smaller?

Just last week, I picked up the phone and called my best friend from school, whom I haven’t spoken to since I moved to Australia in 2011. We somehow lost contact and before I knew it, I got hold of her number, and gave her a call. And just like that, within a split second, I felt like I was back at her parents home and we were 15 years old again in a lovely way.

She told me about her two children which I obviously missed out on being there for, an expat guilt I have to carry around with me, just like I had missed out on other school friends’ lives too. You can read more about our thoughts on The Truth About Being An Expat and the rabbit hole that brings expat guilt alongside it.

The point is, how have we got so wrapped up in our lives that before we know it, we’ve lost contact with someone we thought so dearly of?

It’s reminded me that having a friend group who you don’t have to make small talk with, a support network who hold an emotional side different to what your partner can understand, is something we all need for our mental health.

No one is ever too old to make new friends in Sydney or anywhere else in the world.


2. Did the pandemic take away our social skills?

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I also want to start by acknowledging that the pandemic really does have a lot to answer for when it comes to finding our confidence at being sociable and making friends easily. Pre-covid life may have looked slightly different.

If you’ve gone from working in the office to working at home, this shift in your day to day life will have impacted you more than you think (well it has for me). Looking back at the time when I used to go into the office everyday in Sydney CBD, I think I took it for granted at the thousands of interactions I would have in my entire day with various people.

This included chatting to the friendly and familiar baristas at the local coffee shop before getting into work and seeing my friends with a day full of meetings. Throw in fitness classes, upcoming events, after work drinks and dinner and life was pretty sociable.

Since the pandemic, I’m sure some of you will relate to feeling like you might miss those times more than you realise.

And although it can feel like we have so much more freedom now that we can work from home, the feeling of not talking to anyone in person other than whoever else lives in your house most days, can creep up and make you feel pretty lonely.

One of our followers said pre-pandemic, they were happy going to work, then spending all weekend with their partner, and not really having a social life outside of work. Now that many are working from home, the realisation of not having a social circle and spending time with with people in person can feel more apparent and isolating than ever.


3. Why is it hard making friends in Sydney?

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While the pandemic may have made us all feel a little lonely, making friends in Sydney isn’t something that has suddenly become hard.

It’s a struggle moving to Australia’s biggest city and feeling like slotting straight into life here might not happen as quickly as you thought it would. So why is it hard to crack Sydneysiders and find friendship groups you can trust and feel part of for a lifetime?

My theory is that most Australians go to university in the same city they grew up in and move out of home later in life than what many Brits might do. Because they might not move to different cities, their friendship groups stay the same from a young age and interest in making other friends isn’t something that’s generally considered. .

This is definitely the case for how Steve grew up and his friendship group is still the same as it was when he was 11 years old. This in turn makes me wonder, how easy would it be to enter a life long established friendship group?


4. Finding common ground with Australians in Sydney

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Let’s be clear, we’re not generalising all Sydneysiders here in this post, these are just things we’ve picked up on and so have some of our followers too.

We’ve noticed how it can feel much easier to make friends with Australians who have travelled too – maybe that’s a direct common ground we share as an expat. It’s also easier to make friends with Australians who have moved Interstate to Sydney as well because we are all in the same boat.

While many people assume British and Australians are similar because we share the same language, our personalities are pretty different. I know I’ve struggled to connect with many Australians and have learned over the years to calm down on my dry sense of humour which can be often mistaken for being rude which is definitely not my intention.

I learned after moving back to England in 2018 that while Australia is definitely a better place to live for me personally, Brits tend to be way more open in public situations. Whether taking public transport or on a night out, I noticed how I chatted way more to people in England than I ever would in Sydney. But, while Sydneysiders might be a little more reserved, people seem to be in general much happier in Sydney overall.


5. Hanging out with work friends outside of work

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While I know as Brits hanging out with work friends outside of work tend to be the norm in most places around UK, sometimes it might not be the case in Sydney. I wonder if it’s because people in UK move around a lot so there’s not so much of locals vs non locals and it’s more of people being more accepting and open to making friends?

In Sydney and what it looks like the other capital cities around Australia (as some of our followers pointed out) hanging out with work friends outside of work might not be the case. Is this because people are busy with their life long friends? If you’re interested to learn more about working in Sydney, check out our Working In London vs Sydney guide.

Another follower pointed out that as a family they would spend a large portion of their time catching up with their own family back home on the weekends. Now being an expat, there’s more time to hang out with friends, but how can you spend time with Aussie friends if they are spending quality time with their families on the weekends instead? It’s a scenario that often results in expats sticking with other expats.


6. Dealing with ageism

Something that has really made me think a lot in the last few days is the feeling of ageism when it comes to making friends. Many of our Instagram followers brought up this topic to us because getting older can feel much harder to make new friends and find like-minded people to hang out with.

We’re all getting busier and busier as we get older, especially if you throw children into the mix.

Has society almost made us feel conditioned to gravitate towards certain types of people during different moments in our lifetime?

Is it easier to make friends in Sydney in your twenties? People might be more open to trying more experiences when they are younger. But what happens when you reach your thirties and people around you are having kids and getting married? If you don’t do the same, will you ultimately have to gravitate towards people who don’t have children?

And what happens when your kids grow up and you become empty-nesters looking to find new friends? Today, I bumped into a very stylish older lady at the markets. I complimented her on her style and you know what she said? “Sometimes you have to keep making the effort because as you get older, you become invisible.” As sad as it was, it also made me wonder why most people tend to be friends with people who are similar ages to themselves?

One thing I have always maintained is to give people compliments because it really can make their day. When we moved back to England in 2018, I noticed how women give each other compliments way more than I have ever seen in Sydney or anywhere in Australia.


7. Becoming friends with expats who won’t stay

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It can be really hard to make friends with other expats, especially if you’ve opened your heart for them to ultimately decide to move away or back home. How do you handle having your heart broken only to start another friendship with someone who yet again might leave?

If we don’t put ourselves out there, then how will we evolve without being part of social groups and having close friends around us? Remember not all expats will leave after a year or two. A lot stick around much much longer.


8. Will moving somewhere else help you make friends?

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If you’re struggling to make friends in Sydney, you might be thinking about moving to another part of Australia. With more and more people moving to regional towns, will it be easier to make friends?

One of our followers said she was finding it difficult to make friends in Tasmania and thought moving to the mainland would be easier. The truth is, moving to a city might be just the same. Another follower left Sydney as people didn’t ‘get her’ for the Central Coast and now holds parties for 50 friends in the area.

When we lived in Agnes Water in Queensland, we made friends much more easily because the town was small. Living in a small community helps you make friends much more quickly and definitely contributes to becoming more open with chatting to anyone. But, a small town can have its ups and downs. You throw Covid into the mix and before you know it a small town can become divided with locals vs new locals and vaxxers vs anti-vaxxers. I wonder if this is the case all around the world with more people moving away from big cities to live a life in a regional town?


You’ll probably know this already, but here are some tips for how to be proactive for making new friends in Sydney.

9. Try being more open with strangers

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After living in small regional towns in Australia, I find that I’m much more naturally open to talking to anyone now, which feels more apparent when I come back to Sydney. I’m now more open to chatting to strangers and what surprises me is that people are generally really nice. It’s weird why people tend to be closed off when living in cities.

Try having a conversation with the barista in the coffee shop sometime and you might be surprised how nice it is just to have a conversation that goes further than the “Hey, how you going?” chat that isn’t actually directly asking you a question.


10. Get out of the habit of saying no

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When I first came to Australia in 2006 as a backpacker on my own for a year, I’ll never forget when my brother turned to me before I got on the flight and said “say yes to everything”. I made sure that when someone at the hostel asked me to go on a night out with them, I said yes. I didn’t ever make an excuse and it helped me make loads of friends.

We all know this but sometimes it’s easy to forget and more than anything we can make excuses not just because of laziness, but because of fear. Is it easier to spend yet another night scrolling on our phones on the sofa than to get out of your comfort zone and go to social events?


11. Join a sports team or gym and go at the same time everyday

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Sydney has this infectious health culture where you’ll see everyone in their gym gear which will make you sub-consciously want to lead a healthy lifestyle too.

While it can feel intimidating seeing the insanely amazing bodies on Bondi Beach, get yourself to a gym you feel comfortable in and go at the same time everyday. You’ll start seeing the same people which might help you spark up a conversation and make a few friends.

One of Steve’s Aussie mates moved back from Europe to Manly and didn’t know anyone. One day he walked past the volleyball nets in Manly and decided to join in. He wasn’t a sporty guy and had never played volleyball before.

When we went over to catch up with him a couple of months later, he was so happy and settled, purely because of that day.

All of his friends were from the volleyball club who were people from all over the world. The point is, even if you think it might be intimidating, it’s more accepting that what you may have thought it would be.


12. Join relevant Facebook groups

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As a no brainer, Facebook has become a central point for finding groups to join. Find a relevant Facebook group that you’re interested in and go to any meet ups they are holding. If you’re unsure which one’s to join, think about a hiking in Sydney Facebook group, or Poms In Sydney, book clubs, or anything else you’re interested in.

A friend who helped us get our dog said most of her friends are from the Cavoodle Facebook groups, which helped her meet like minded people who are interested in shared interests.


13. Don’t be afraid to make the first move

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It might feel weird, but don’t be afraid to make the first move when arranging a catch up.

We know some of our followers have connected and made friends through our Instagram page which is awesome. If you’re looking to reach out to someone you follow, don’t be afraid to ask them for a coffee sometime. Remind yourself that you need to be proactive if you want to find friends that you can hang out with regularly.

You might like to check out our guide for the Best English Pubs In Sydney to feel right at home. If you’re reading this in Winter, why not arrange a Sunday afternoon at one of our favourite Sunday Roasts In Sydney?


14. Join a social group at work

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When you start work in Sydney, be proactive and join a social group. I made some good friends at a company I worked for in Sydney by attending a weekly yoga class. I wouldn’t have ever got to know them otherwise so it helps to put yourself out there.


15. Be conscious to be present

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One of our followers made a good point about being present. If you’re out walking or taking public transport, don’t put headphones in. You never know that you might end up striking up a conversation with someone that could lead to having a night out.


16. Reconnect with your favourite hobbies

It’s more important than ever to look after your mental health and wellness since the pandemic.

As an expat, you’ll probably have some more time on your hands which is the perfect opportunity to think about starting up some of those hobbies you’ve been putting off forever.

As more people are starting to lead healthier lifestyles and are ditching nightclubs in return for a more holistic way of living, you might want to swap drinking in the bar for doing an art class in Sydney.

Check out ClassBento which is a company I used to write for. They are a little bit like Airbnb, but hold art classes instead. So anyone can start their own classes and advertise on there, and as a customer you can search and book a class and a time that suits you. Think pottery classes, life drawing classes, jewellery making classes and much more.

When I worked there, it inspired me to learn to play the piano again and start painting art – two hobbies I had put off doing for years. It’s weird why we talk ourselves out of doing things we actually love doing.


17. Go on a secret bar crawl or refugee food tour

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I love Local Aussie Source Tours who run secret bar crawls around Sydney, with 65% local Sydneysiders attending. It’s a brilliant way to meet like-minded people whom you can have fun with. The host Justin knows Sydney like the back of his hand and will take you to some awesome little gems you may have not heard of.

If drinking isn’t your thing, check out his refugee food tours which support local refugees – an amazing initiative that you’ll not only support someone’s business, you could make friends while doing so.


18. Sunrise meet up groups to join

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Sydneysiders love getting up early in the morning, so why not grab a coffee and go and meet some like minded people?

Caroline from A County Down Under runs Sunrise Social which is essentially for anyone to come and join at Bronte Beach on Saturday mornings. Although there’s a strong expat crowd of Irish and Brits here, it’s an inclusive environment for anyone to join.

Fancy joining a sunrise meditation and connecting session? Try Cool 2 Be Conscious which is a breathwork and guided meditation on Bondi Beach on Saturday mornings. The guys behind this are onto a good thing as they are trying to build connection with mostly younger people in their twenties with sessions all over Australia.

I suggest taking it with a pinch of salt, as it was a little bit over the top for me in some parts when I joined one in the Sunshine Coast, but what I actually enjoyed about it is that you end up spending five minutes of the session chatting to someone in the group as a one on one and you get deep quickly. I learned a lot from the girl I chatted to and she really made my day and helped me more than she will ever know. I definitely recommend checking this out as it will help you become a bit more open to talking to strangers more.


19. Coming to Sydney as a backpacker?

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If you’re moving over to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, I suggest jumping in one of the Welcome 2 Travel tours which start from either Sydney or Melbourne. It’s run by two British guys who have built a solid community of expats and backpackers around Australia. Their fun tours will help you get settled and make life-long friends quickly before you decide where to settle in Australia on your Working Holiday Visa.


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OK, I hope this post has helped you in some kind of way. Making friends as an adult isn’t easy and we’re here to reassure you that you’re not alone as many people are in the same position too.

Remember making friends takes time, but like so many people, you will get there. People in Sydney are much more friendlier than you may think, you just need to make the effort to meet people, join social groups or social events and before you know it you’ll have new friends.

Check out our Expat Interview series to read more stories about expats moving to Australia so you can get a feel of how other people have found the move too.

If you’ve got more suggestions on how to meet people and discover new friendships that could lead to finding best mates, let us know in the comments below.


How To Make Friends In Sydney Or Anywhere Really

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