How to get involved with your local expat community

Posted on July 13, 2012 by Guest Writer
Mature friends laughing together

Moving abroad is a long standing dream for many people, but there are understandably some worries attached to making the leap. One of the biggest anxieties people might have when it comes to living overseas is leaving their loving and supportive social network at home only to be lonely abroad. Making friends from scratch can be tough, but luckily popular destinations have strong expat communities that can help to make the transition easier. So how can you tap into these expansive expat networks?

Log on and find new friends

Most things can be found online nowadays, and your new expat friends are no different. Most expat communities now communicate through online forums and websites. These are not only a fantastic way to meet other Brits living nearby, but can be a massive help if you have just moved and are trying to work out the lay of the land.

Forums are great for asking tricky questions about living in the area that only other expats are likely to know. From there, it is easy to get chatting and arrange to meet up with some friendly fellow expats you click with.

If there is no expat community then create one! No doubt your fellow Brits living abroad would be grateful for a tool that allows them to communicate efficiently and meet new people. Set up an online community and spread the word to any expats you meet, leave leaflets in popular expat haunts and find others on social networking sites. Once a few members have joined then it’s time to start holding fun events. Putting yourself at the heart of a new expat community is a sure-fire way to ensure you have a fun and active social life and make plenty of new friends.

Attend expat events

These websites are likely to hold details of various social clubs you can get involved with, and expat events that are being held. While it may be daunting to take the leap and go to that first meeting, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you’re particularly worried, then find another expat and arrange to meet up beforehand and go together.

Visit favourite expat spots

In most destinations there will be one or two places that are firm favourites among British expats, whether this is an English cafe or an Irish bar. Find out where your fellow Brits favour and make an effort to visit these places. If you become a familiar face in these establishments, you’re bound to get to know the other clientele.

Don’t forget to integrate with the local community too

While you’re busy trying to make new British friends, don’t forget the reason you wanted to live in a foreign country in the first place – to immerse yourself in a new culture. As comforting as that expat bubble can be, it is important to break out of it now and again to have some local experiences. Local friends can be incredibly useful when it comes to familiarising yourself with the language and the culture.

If you’re struggling to make local friends, why not invite your neighbours round for tea or some drinks? Join clubs, attend sporting events and make an effort to visit local bars and restaurants that are popular with the natives.