Joining the expat community: How to find other expats while on assignment

06 May 2021


If you’ve arrived in a new city where you don’t speak the local language, use this as a way to expand your friendship circle. Enrolling in a language class or taking private lessons can be an ideal opportunity to meet other expats from a variety of countries who are in the same boat as you.

As well as joining classes or courses, there are lots of language exchange options available too, which offer more personalised and one-on-one sessions. Attending a language exchange meetup is a great opportunity to befriend not only other teachers and expats, but the locals too.

In addition, using an online language app like MyLanguageExchange, HelloTalk and Italki is another way to learn a new language, and make some long-lasting friendships too.

There are expat groups in most cities throughout the world to assist with meeting new people and developing a social network. Expat groups regularly hold meet-up sessions, and new members are always encouraged and welcomed. Get online and find an expat group in your area.
Participating in an organised sport or hobby is the perfect way to build friendships in your new country. There is no end to the activities on offer in many expat destinations. You can find new friends by joining a running club if you’re keen on the outdoors, discussing the latest bestseller with a book club, or practicing early morning Yoga in the park with a group of Yogis. 

Another great way to connect with other expats is through Facebook groups, online forums, blogs, and expat websites. Facebook has hundreds of location-based groups for expats and joining a group relating to your destination is a great way to find out what’s going on locally and meet new people.

As well as the traditional social networks, there are many social networks dedicated specifically to expats, including Meetup and Internations that can provide you with more opportunities to meet new people.

Meetup is a great tool for expats to make connections in a new city. Here you can find vibrant and welcoming groups for just about any activity from drinks with your fellow expats to cinema nights, language cafes and hiking groups. If you can’t find a Meetup to fit your interest, create a group of your own for expats nearby.

In addition, Internations is a global networking community that actively seeks to connect people both online and at their many in-person events. Other popular alternatives to connect you with like-minded expats include websites like Expat Buddy and Expat Finder.

Why not make a difference and expand your social network at the same time? Volunteering is an excellent way not just to meet people, but to help you, as a newcomer, feel like you’re part of the community and city. There are plenty of initiatives out there depending on what causes you’re passionate about so join a volunteer organisation or get involved with a local charity.
Popular expat hangouts can be found in destinations throughout the world and can be an ideal way to meet people. English is the third most spoken language in the world, so depending on what part of the world you’re living in, there’s probably an English-speaking bar or bookshop that draws expats and can be a great place to meet people with similar interests.
And finally, check if your embassy organises get-togethers to celebrate festivals, holidays or special occasions. This will give you an opportunity to connect with fellow expats from your home country, easing your homesickness and making the transition to your new country that much easier.