Making Friends in Austin

The other day I’m sitting at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (on S Lamar, but I cannot wait for the 38th & Lamar location to open–rumor has it August 8 is the day!!) with Alexandra from Alexandra’s Cookie Dreams and before we know it, our casual conversation turns into girl talk with 2 other random girls also hanging out at the coffee shop. It’s an odd experience, but cool.

We get on the topic of making friends in Austin. Both of the strangers (not me and Alexandra) say it’s hard to make friends in Austin. For the record, Alexandra and I met randomly at an event and have forged a friendship out of that, emailing regularly and meeting up every so often. She’s GREAT at keeping in touch. I don’t think she finds it hard to make friends, and I’ve often said Austin makes it easy to make friends. More on that in a minute.

So we started talking about HOW you make friends, and Alexandra declares that there are three groups of people who find it easy to make friends: people who are into live music, people who are into sports, and people who are hippie-ish or granola-y. I think this over. When I moved back to Austin (I’m a native but was away for school), I immediately sought out sports leagues, not only because I love sports, but also because I figured it’d be a great way to make friends (thank you, Austin Sports & Social Club, and I discuss this more here). I also went out quite a bit, but not to listen live music. And while I shop at Wheatsville, only eat free-range meat, recycle, and have a very active compost at the house, I don’t really consider myself a hippie. Nonetheless, I apparently had 1/3 of the advantages for making friends.

But I don’t think it’s just about what activities you do. It’s about the intention you approach anything in your life with. I moved home and said, “I have to make new friends now.” I didn’t hang out with my high school friends, and I looked at every event where there’d be new people as a chance to make friends. Always open-minded and open-hearted. It certainly wasn’t an immediate process, but I’m picky and I still found an amazing group of friends that continues to grow and expand to this day. I always credited my ability to find awesome new friends to Austin itself, for having a young, intelligent, diverse population of laid-back people. But if this isn’t true for 2/4 girls in the coffeeshop, where’s the disconnect?

So I’m curious … how did you make friends in Austin? If you’re from somewhere else or lived somewhere else, was it easier or harder to make friends? Where do you think we fall on the Easiness-of-Making-Friends Scale?

39 Comments to “Making Friends in Austin”

  1. Good thoughtful post.

    I moved here 4 years ago from SA and was a member of a running club. My experience with making friends in Austin has been fantastic..but I admit that most are fitness or wine tasting related:)

    Cookie Dreams are THE most amazing cookies ever!

    B

  2. Adding to your list of people: People who go to church may find it easier to make friends.

    In general, Austin is an easy place to make friends because of all the different activities that you can be involved in. However, wherever you go to meet people, you have be proactive and put some effort into it and then be consistent in keeping up touch with them

  3. Excellent post! I’m eager to hear what people have to say.

  4. It is pure science – I am naturally fabulous and people love me — what can I say, I am perfect….its a Lebanese thing🙂

  5. I moved here just over 4 years ago and never had any problems making friends. But you do have to put yourself out there and not just expect everyone to come to you!
    Initially I met people through my kids. This is a great way to meet people – you take your kids everywhere and they are usually involved in a lot. I also made friends at the gym and met a lot of people while running.
    I think Austin is a very friendly place and I had no problem meeting people when I moved here!

  6. I moved here from CO 3 yrs ago. I have to say that I too fit into those 3 categories a bit myself. I met a lot of my closer friends through a run club, I’m a pescatarian and husband is vegan, and enjoy going out every so often with live music as a bonus. I agree that it’s the attitude you take, being open minded and open to doing new things with new people.

  7. I moved here about 3 years ago and took some time to make friends. Kickball, going out for drinks or music, and friendly coworkers are where most of my social group comes from. And it helps that I’m married – my husband’s friends (mostly from work & going out) give us a bigger social circle.

    But I think you hit on an important part of it – “She’s GREAT at keeping in touch.” – you have to TRY to keep up with people and can’t get complacent, expecting your friendships to work out if you only hang out when you happen to show up in the same place.

  8. Hmmm, sounds like running clubs are the answer. Thanks for your comments, it has been interesting to hear responses. Via email and twitter, I’ve gotten more negative responses, with people saying things along the lines of Austin being clique-ish and people being friendly but not looking to make friends … interesting. I hope to hear more …

  9. Hi,
    Lyssa and I did have a great time meeting new people last week at CofffeeBean & Tea Leaf! Lyssa is fun, outgoing and easy to talk to, and that’s why I wanted to be her friend. It is her positive energy that I like. I just want to clarify that in the above post I was only joking around about the three ways to make friends in Austin. Clearly Austin is filled with a diverse group of people with a wide variety of interests and talents. I truly think the best way to meet people in Austin is do whatever it is you love to do and what makes you happy- then others will be drawn your exciting energy!

  10. i moved from boston a year ago. i’ve technically only been here for 5 months though because i travel a lot for work. i complained a lot about feeling lonely and not having friends and for the first time, i’m really going out and trying to meet new people.

    in college it was easy because you were forced to make friends in classes and clubs. i’m self employed and work at home so i am not exposed to co-workers.

    in the beginning i tried to reacquaint myself with my HS friends, but i realized that we really had nothing in common anymore and we grew into different people so i worked on finding new people. joined a bunch of meet up groups and have started to find cool people through them!

  11. I just moved here in December, and compared to where I’m from (Los Angeles), I’ve gotta say making friends in Austin is about as easy as making plain toast. I can’t even count the number of times someone random (at the store, at Home Slice, at a yard sale) has given me their phone number to hang out. This is one of the many reasons I am loving Austin. Now, I do not have a natural proclivity toward picking up my phone and calling people, but if you are the new guy, you really do have to be the one to make most of the effort. So it’s easy, you just have to, like, do it.

  12. Oh yeah, I have to agree with Alexandra’s clarification, and I meant she was “declaring” the groups in a melodramatic sense, as a way of providing food for thought. And thanks for your compliments!😉

    I agree with Bethlin and Becky that one of the major things about making friends is acting on that initial connection. For people whose first instinct is not to just pick up the phone and call–and I’m one of those people too–, it can be hard, but it’s usually worth it.

  13. As much as it was more of a food for thought… its those groups or circles that allow for an easy connection. It creates an instant ice breaker for conversation. Church is definitely another big social spot besides sports (which ASSC is how I first connected with people as well), food, hobbies, or lifestyle.

  14. I moved to Austin from Phoenix just over a year ago. I had lived in Phoenix for over 20 years and had many long time friends.

    I have had no luck in meeting friends. The few people I have gotten to know and started to develop friendships with have ended up violating my trust. It has been really frustrating. I’ve tried church and, even went back to work for a few months, hoping that I would meet some people.

    After reading the today’s blog, I’m going to try a few new things.

    Thank you!

  15. Book Clubs, Wine Clubs, Supper Clubs, awesome neighbors, running into the same shoppers at Whole Foods and bumping into the same people on the Trail. I have been so fortunate making friends in the last six years since I have moved here that I almost have to retract friendships.

    Awesome Austin,
    Nicole

  16. I like what Sara said in making friends. We should be consistent and proactive.

  17. Hmm well I have an idea. For those of you who feel like it’s hard to make friends in Austin, how about a little coffee date? I’m always up for meeting new people. 🙂 If you’re interested, email me at carolyn.park@gmail.com.

    xoxo,
    C

  18. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Margaret

    http://howtomakecompost.info

  19. What a hit for a question! I recommend offering saltenas or pure VT maple syrup to a new acquaintance. Instant friendship guaranteed!

  20. wonderful post… I think its intentionality and openness. if you’re out doing the things you love, and are just open to people, others with the same vibe respond to you.

    interestingly, a lot of my friends are women who i dated briefly before we both realized the romantic connection wasn’t there. they are still smart, funny and interesting though, and thankfully many of them have remained friends! (true friends – no ‘benefits’ stuff). its nice…

  21. Nice post! I recently moved to Austin and found life to be a little lonelier than what I was expecting. But I’m going to my first meetup group this weekend and am excited about the potential outcome after reading everyone’s response to the post.

    THANK YOU!!!

  22. I like austin365.com – It’s like Austin’s very own Facebook but better….

  23. I moved here about 6 months ago and i’m pretty involved with music and have gone to plenty of shows, but i’ve yet to meet anyone.

  24. I moved to Austin from England about 5months ago due to my husband’s job. I must admit life is very different here and I find it very quiet and what makes it worse is that both my kids are in the UK studying. I have found that the people who I’ve come across are not very conversational and have suggested meeting up, but I get no response in return. I have found it very lonely so far, but as they say things can only get better!!

  25. I think it has been hard to make friends in Austin. People here seem really clique-ish, and if you don’t fall exactly within the parameters of what defines their group, they’re not interested in befriending you. People here seem to be flaky, too. Maybe it’s the whole granola-hippy thing that makes it cool to be a flake. Nonetheless we keep going to various places and events and trying to meet new people. It just seems everyone has their clique and they aren’t interested in knowing anyone new. Have any of you had similar experiences?

  26. I agree Ben. Four months in, here. Scope out my website and let me know if you want to grab a brew and make fun of hipsters.

  27. Iv been here 1 year and found it so hard to make friends ,
    iv moved to austin from Australia and found it so hard back home i could move anywhere in Australia and make friends within a week…
    so where and how do you make friends:)

  28. I am new here and honestly I am not sure where to start. I am not sporty, love the live music scene but how easy really is it to make friends when live music is ablare?? Just here from Jacksonville, FL. I am gay but dont really enjoy the gay scene that much. Just like to go grab a beer or drink somewhere where they know how to pour and dont give attitude. I am honest, funny, trustworthy and give anyone worth giving it to, a chance. I miss my friends and need to fill some large shoes with worthy souls.

  29. I am new here and honestly I am not sure where to start. I am not sporty, love the live music scene but how easy really is it to make friends when live music is ablare?? Just here from Jacksonville, FL. I am gay but dont really enjoy the gay scene that much. Just like to go grab a beer or drink somewhere where they know how to pour and dont give attitude. I am honest, funny, trustworthy and give anyone worth giving it to, a chance. I miss my friends and need to fill some large shoes with worthy souls.

    (reposting because i used the wrong facebook site on my previous.)

  30. I’ve lived in Austin for 5 years and I too have had a really hard time making friends. I thought I had made some….but they turned out to be in the ‘mean girls club’, and that’s not my thing. I’m a stay at home mom and married. My husband and I both love sports, live music, beer, the outdoors….you name it….we’re pretty flexible. Yet we both have not had the same response as some of the other people that have posted. As far as my husbands co-workers…he’s a home health nurse, so he isn’t around co-workers at all. We are health and earth conscience, but wouldn’t consider ourselves hippie-ish…although I love ’em! We often go out….to bars…First Thursday…etc. But at what point is it not creepy to give out your number to perfect strangers to hang out? Most of the people here seem to already have a set number of friends…and friends they’ve had for a really long time. How do you find where you fit in?

    • Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for commenting! I’m sorry you’ve had a tough time in Austin. My best suggestions are to do what you love and you’ll find your friends–but really, you have to be proactive here. Maybe your kids have some cool parents that you want to invite over, get a group babysitter and hang out? Maybe you want to join a sports league like Austin Sports and Social just to meet a few people, go out for beers after games? Austinites seem to have a lot of friends already, so I think you really have to make the effort to reach out. But it’s worth it! Good luck🙂

    • Not sure if you’re still in the market for friends Andrea, but my wife is having a hard time making friends (being a stay-at-home mom herself). She’s from NYC and not the typical suburban housewife type, which makes it hard for her to meet people since that’s what most of the mommie groups are made up of. I know she’d really like someone to hang out with during the day, kiddo in-tow.

      I’ve had a rough time making friends here as well, compared to my time in New York and North Carolina. I’d love to have some neighbors and/or friends who understand what its like to have family obligations and a working class budget. Drinking beers and letting the kids run in the yard while listening to music on the back patio is my idea of fun. Maybe firing up the grill as well. I know that’s tame behavior for most Austinites, but when you have kids and a limited budget (and limited time), its hard to go join a sports team or listen to live music when you’d have to pay a babysitter.

  31. A friend an I were talking the other day about making friends in Austin. I brought up the topic because I have found that while people in Austin are super “friendly”, I have yet to make any really solid friends that go past a certain threshold. I meet people all the time and have great conversations but even if we exchange contact info all of them seem to fizzle out because of one reason or another.

    So, my friend (who is an Austin veteran) listened to this and agreed that there is a certain level that everyone is comfortable with on the surface, and it is in no way fake southern hospitality, but that going beyond that surface level is rare to experience here. He even coined a term for it on the spot, saying that Austinites suffer from “austism”, meaning a social form of autism. I thought that was a great explanation of what I’ve been experiencing here.

    It’s almost as if I don’t encounter the same thirst for making new friendships in the people I meet as what I have. I’ve wondered if this was just me and figured I needed to get more involved with meet up groups and fitness groups. While I still think that’s the solution, it’s nice to hear my friend echo my concern.

    I had a really poignant moment the other day when I was driving through downtown and I say 4 people sitting on a bench and laughing. Hearing that laughter was one of the most beautiful things I had heard in a long time and that’s when I realized that I’m living a bit of a lonely existence and I really need to be more proactive about this whole friend-acquisition plan!

    All that being said, I love this city; I love the culture and what I know of the people. I just want to be able to share it with more friends, with a solid community…

    • Wow, thank you so much for this thoughtful response, Mark! I definitely experienced a lot of potential friendships that fizzled, but kept making a commitment to try to make more friends, be proactive about inviting people places, and so on. I also definitely had the advantage of having grown up here and having an existing support network of family and old friends. Best of luck to you!!

  32. no austin sucks, people here are picky with friends, i’m from ohio, and people there are really nice and want to meet you and greet you unlike here….

  33. I am a rather laid back guy with no interest in sports or music. I moved to Austin about a month back and I think my life from now on would be opening a bottle of scotch at home and eating thai and Indian food.

  34. I’m here in Austin for a short time, but from what I’ve already seen in Austin people, the more you’re similar to them, more chances you have to maintain a relationship (either friendship or more than that). They are not very curious about other people and they love simple things, although they are far from being simple. They like to talk about things they know about and avoid those they are unsure about, they don’t like unsure people and admire sharpness and determination.
    In foods, they love few things, BBQ and any thing with a swit and spicy test. They are conservative in most moral topics and would get offended by people not observing their taboos.
    In general, to make a friend you need to arouse his/her admiration, interest, juleous, desire, hopes or even dreams. Thus you need to know what they admire, what they are interested in, what makes them juleous, what they desire and what are their hopes and dreams! It is a hard work to find a friend, but I can say for sure it’s worth it. So start from knowing their history and what makes them proud.
    I find Austin a small happy-land where people can live in peace and comfortably. They did it well and that’s why they are having this big explosion of population in last years.

  35. Hi everyone Im are from mexico but i moved to austin jeje i dont have friends and i wish meet something form here im 17 years old im are interesting in music play guitar im a rocker😀 jeje if you are interested you pick me here darknes_boy@live.com.mx sorry i dont have gmail or skype jeje i hope who we can meet in person bye

  36. Austin is an extremely friendly city, and I meet new acquaintances every day, but it seems like everyone is so busy and caught up in their own schedules and interests(including myself) that I haven’t formed many deep friendships. I agree however that common interest is key, all the people I have become friends with are ones that I saw over and over at the music venues I frequent. Honestly, just strike up a conversation with anyone, it seems like every person in this city is down for a chat🙂

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