The New Kids in Town: Making Friends After 65

By Jordan Elizabeth

Making friends when you’re a kid is easy: you meet a ton of kids at school, figure out which ones are good at four-square and math like you (well, not exactly like me, but this is hypothetical, so let’s go with it), and you become friends. Once you graduate college and relocate, you meet new friends at work, or through Craigslist roommate searches (not all people on Craigslist are unsavory characters!). But what happens when you’ve retired, relocated, and find yourself in a place where the only person you know is your spouse or your child? Finding a new social circle at 65 sounds slightly terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be! 

My parents moved from Wisconsin to Colorado last year to be closer to my sister, who just had a baby (I am still slightly bitter about this, but that’s a whole other story to tell). Although thrilled to be 5 minutes away from their first grandchild, they needed other people to hang out with, and preferably someone who could talk. Not knowing anyone in town, they really had to put themselves out there to meet people. This is what I learned from their experience:

First, it’s time to remember what your mom made you do when you moved into a new neighborhood as a kid: knock on your neighbors doors and introduce yourself. Now, I loathed when my mom made me do this. I was so embarrassed and scared that when I asked Ashley if she wanted to roller skate with me, she’d say no. The great thing about doing this as an adult is, they are generally more polite than 7 year olds and will be gracious (Ashely did turn me down - she already had a friend over), but also love a bribe just as much as a 7-year old. Bring cookies or a bottle of wine, and they will surely invite you in for a chat. And oftentimes, retirees will end up in condos or neighborhoods where many other retirees have landed. So chances are, you’ll have a lot in common with some of your neighbors already.

Once you’ve met your neighbors and plied them with sweets and reasonably priced alcohol, try getting the neighborhood together for an event. You could have a little block party in the summer, or do a house crawl - pop from house to house, where you can have drinks at one house, appetizers at another - that way, no one is on the hook for providing anything large. 

After that, look for some activities to do. My parents used to find social events to go to in their area. Some things, they already liked doing (walking groups, wine tasting), and some they didn’t (bowling). But they key is to be open to doing things that you might normally not. You’re already out of your comfort zone in a new city, so stay out there a little longer. The end game is to meet different people, not become a professional bowler. So don’t let the specific activity deter you! And you might end up liking bowling, after all.

Then when you meet someone you feel you might like, extend an invitation to go for coffee, a drink, or over to see your new house, now that you’ve finally gotten it together. Then before you know it, you’ll meet their friends, learn other things to do in your new city, meet other people doing those activities, and you’ll have a whole network in place.

Whether you did just move, or you’re just looking for new friends, the most important thing, is to get out there. If you can survive having a rollerskating invitation revoked, you can surely survive this!

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Jordan Elizabeth is a comedian, TV Writer/Producer, collector of hobbies, and master of putting off adulthood. She can be heard on the Podcast "3 Dudes and a Broad" and performs stand-up comedy with "Girls Gone Funny." She lives in Manhattan with her fiance and two dogs. Read more about her life at Jordie Elizabeth and follow her on Twitter at@JordiElizabeth.