Living and working abroad is exciting – there’s always something new to discover, a new place to visit, and new ways to buy the wrong thing at the grocery store again. But one thing strikes fear into the heart of many potential travelers: how to make friends as a digital nomad.
After all, when you’re picking up and moving every few months, finding even short-term friends to spend time and go on adventures with is tough. And building lasting and solid friendships? Even more difficult. But it doesn’t need to be quite so challenging to find your own digital nomad community if you know where to look for friends. Here are a couple of my favorite places to meet people and make friends abroad.
When you’re looking to meet other digital nomads, coworking spots are one of the best spaces to do just that. Of course, it’s not all about the socialization here as people are there to get work done. But I’ve met good friends here at my favorite Athens spot as we chat in between working sessions and head out to grab a coffee together.
Plus working remotely alone in your house gets lonely eventually – I love doing my focused work around other people because gets me out of the house. And coworking spaces often organize events so you can easily meet other nomads and expats.
Social media often gets a bad rap, but it’s really useful for meeting other people living the digital nomad lifestyle. For pretty much any city you move to, you’ll at least a couple of digital nomad and/or expat groups on Facebook, and they often have regular meetups or events to get to know people. There’s always someone looking to grab a coffee or a drink too – that’s how I made my first friend in Croatia.
Just search “digital nomads in XX” or “expats in XX” on Facebook and start making new friends! If you’re living in one of the major digital nomad hubs like Chiang Mai or Lisbon you’ll have tons of options, but even smaller digital nomad locations like Split, Croatia have at least a couple of groups you can join. And sometimes these groups are good for finding deals on apartments for a few months as well.
When you’re just traveling and not working, staying in hostels is a great way to meet lots of people without much effort. But when you need to get up early and get in a full day of work, sleeping in a dorm full of snoring or partying travelers isn’t much fun.
Instead, tare some new coliving options, like the Selina chain, that offer coliving spaces for people who need to work while they travel. These often have coworking spaces included in the building, and plenty of events so you can meet other people in the local digital nomad community. And you can opt for a private room or a dorm, where you’ll be sharing with other people who need to get up and work in the morning too. It’s all the benefits of staying in a hostel, but in a way that still lets you get your work done properly.
Learning new things in a class setting is a good way to pass the time and meet new people as well. If you’re planning to stay somewhere for a few months, learning a bit of the language in your location can help you make more connections with locals, and language classes are a great place to meet other people doing the same thing.
I also love going to yoga classes wherever I am, and doing an occasional yoga retreat. I meet people who are interested in the same activities and get some exercise while doing it. Finding some activity that you enjoy and can do in a group is a fun way to get out there, have fun, and maybe meet a few new friends as well.
Doing organized touristy activities is another easy way to meet people when you’re traveling. You’ll mostly meet people who are only in town for a few days, so it’s harder to make real and lasting connections this way.
But it can be fun to learn more about the place you’re living in, and those transitory friendships can grow into something lasting as well. Or at least you’ll have someone to grab a drink with that night.
Creating Your Digital Nomad Community
There’s no one right way to meet people when you’re a digital nomad. For some outgoing people, it’s easy – but if you’re as shy as I am, finding more structured settings and events specifically for meeting other people is helpful in making friendships.
And with social media, keeping in touch once you’ve left town is easy as well. The partings can be tough in this kind of nomadic life, but it also means you’ll probably meet up with your friends again somewhere in the world!