A survey for the National Academy of Sciences, conducted with more than 340,000 participants, found that overall feelings of well-being are vastly improved at middle-age compared to previous milestone ages. The research suggested that levels of stress as well as feelings of anger and worry began to significantly decrease, whilst happiness and enjoyment increased.Being in your 50s is far from a turning point where it all goes downhill. In fact, quite the opposite. For a period of your life that is hopefully filled with less stress and more fun, we’ve compiled this expat guide on making friends abroad when you’re over 50. What some people may seem as a daunting setback – moving to a new country and making new friends – can actually be part of the fun and adventure! Here are our top tips for making friends in your new home.
How To Meet Other People
Special interest holidays
Various holiday and tour companies offer special interest holiday packages. Whether your passion be ancient history, neo-gothic architecture, flamenco dancing or amateur photography, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find a special interest holiday for it. This also brings the potential to meet a set of friends who share your passions and interest, and who also enjoy traveling.
Go on a cruise
If a special interest holiday doesn’t appeal to you, you may wish to consider going on a cruise. There are all sorts to choose from, including over 50s to singles clubs. Again, this offers the opportunity for you to meet like-minded people with whom you can stay in contact and possibly plan future trips.
Websites and forums
Websites such as meetup.com are invaluable for making new friends and meeting fellow expats in your area. Other useful websites include OverFiftiesFriends and forums such as Over50sForum.
A potential path to integrating and meeting both expats and locals is to look into teaching. Is there a demand for English classes in your new home town? Perhaps ask around some of the local schools and community centres to see whether this is something people would be interested in.
Be a regular
Become a regular at local cafés or pubs. Get to know other regulars, staff and customers. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone sitting at the opposite table from you or at the bar. Other people sitting by themselves are much more likely to be receptive than trying to break the ice with a group or a couple.
If you’re so inclined, look into your local religious establishment to suit your faith, whether that is a church, mosque, synagogue or temple. There are religious establishments all over the world, so it’s almost guaranteed that wherever you end up making your home, you will be able to find somewhere to practice your faith, worship and meet others who do the same.
Join a gym or health spa
Looking into purchasing a membership for your local gym or health spa. As well as the obvious health benefits from exercising regularly, you will also potentially meet lots of new people. Sign up to fitness classes and attend on a regular basis, build up a rapport with your instructor and other regular class goers, and consider arranging a get together outside of the gym if you all get on well.
Join a rambling or walking club
If a gym membership doesn’t particularly appeal to you, but you would still like to keep fit, then consider joining a walking club. Not only will you get to see more of the countryside of your new home, and get a bit of excuse, you will also get some new company whilst doing so!
You’ll find that in various countries, competitive games such as chess can be found in public parks where anyone can join in and play against a complete stranger. This is a great way to stretch your brain and meet new people. Other countries may favour activities such as bingo, crib, bridge or boules, all of which can be great for making new friends.
Attend language classes
If you’re moving to a new country with a different language to your mother tongue, you might want to consider signing up to a local language class once you’re settled in. Even if you consider yourself to be quite proficient, the local dialect may throw you off. Language classes also give you a chance to meet other expats in your area.
Hobbies and workshops
If language classes aren’t for you, then look for other classes and workshops happening in your neck of the woods. They could be more literary based, such as poetry workshops or a writers’ group. You might want to learn new skills, from macramé to silver smithing, leather craft or woodwork. Ask around in your local café, check notice boards at community centres or corner shops, and see if there are any workshops you can attend.
Ever fancied learning how to tango? Or wanted to try your hand at ballroom dancing? Perhaps now is the perfect time to learn, and hopefully meet some new people along the way. If there is a particular dancing style native to the area you have just moved to, even better.
Volunteering creates a great opportunity for you to meet both locals and expats, whilst making a difference and giving back to the community in which you are living. Working closely with others to execute various voluntary projects can help forge wonderful long-lasting friendships.
We hope this guide has been useful to you and given you plenty of practical tips for ways to meet new people in your new home. Making friends abroad when you’re over 50 shouldn’t cause you any worry or stress!
How have you made friends abroad? Share your tips in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!