The best 10 ways to meet new people in NYC

By Rosheda Stephenson Published 29/11/2022

New York City can feel like a dream come true when you first move here. There is the excitement of knowing that anything can happen at any time. And being surrounded by places you’ve only seen in the movies can make you feel like you’re living in a verifiable fantasy. 

But sooner or later, all the novelty dies down. And you realize that finding the things that really matter–friendship and connection–don’t come easy in the city. 

And it’s not because New Yorkers are cold as it’s popularly thought. It’s more that with so much to do in the city, New Yorkers can’t help but lead busy lives. There’s the rush from work to the new art gallery where a brand new collection from an up-and-coming artist is showing. Or maybe it’s to an origami class where the focus is on making tiger dragons. And after, there may be dinner plans at a new restaurant. Or another rush to catch the subway back home to make dinner. 

If that sounds like a lot, it is. Life in NYC is rushed for sure. And it can seem impossible to break through the hustle and bustle to make friends.

Some newcomers to the city try living with a group of people in coliving spaces like the ones we specialize in at Cohabs. Our coliving homes in NYC come with an amazing community of new friends that you’ll be living with the moment you move in so that’s a no-brainer if you’re serious about connecting with others. 

In addition, here are 10 other ways to meet new people in NYC that will have you building friendships in no time!

1. Attend your neighborhood’s block party or festival

It may not seem like it when you first move there, but New York City is made up of distinct neighborhoods with their own happenings and events. Whether the neighborhood you live in is family-centric or populated with a younger crowd, there are bound to be events you can attend.

Block parties, where whole streets get permits to stop traffic for the day so the residents can have a full day of partying in summer and spring are popular in Brooklyn. And many of Manhattan’s neighborhoods have festivals where the whole neighborhood comes out to mix and mingle. 

Attend your neighborhood’s block party or festival

If you’re serious about meeting new people in NYC, searching out your neighborhood events and attending them is a good way to meet people. To find community events, check for announcements posted on the streets. Or, stop at your library to find out how to join a community board like this Dumbo board where community events are posted regularly.

Once you meet your neighbors you’ll start seeing them everywhere–at the supermarket, on the train in the mornings, and at the neighborhood park. Sooner or later, you’ll be having long conversations, and before you know it, you’ll hit it off with one or two neighbors who share similar interests.

2. Join a food co-op

At Cohabs, we’re committed to coliving spaces because of the sustainable pattern of living they present. We believe sharing resources and space in our overcrowded cities is the way of the future. If you share these values, or simply like healthy foods, joining a food coop is the perfect way to meet new people in NYC while aligning with your values.

Food co-ops are groups that come together to share the expense of bringing healthy foods and sustainably sourced products to the city. The coops follow a simple format-for a monthly fee and a few hours of work anyone living close by can become a member.

Since you’ll be seeing the same members every time you shop, you’ll be sure to start making friends while getting your food shopping done. And if the coop you join requires hours of work, it will be even easier to meet new people as you work side by side by side in a stress-free environment.  

3. Take a class

Remember all that busyness we complained about? This is where you become part of the action! Whether you like creating with your hands or nerding out on facts, New York has a class to satisfy your interests. And while you’re having fun, you’ll drastically boost your chances of making friends with like-minded people.

Take a class in NYC

Ongoing classes where you show up every week give you the best chance to form friendships. But one-time shots work too.

To find classes, do a quick online search of your hobby and see what piques your interest. If you’re in Brooklyn, the local favorite for classes, Brooklyn Brainery, has a branch close to our Prospect 885 Cohabs and is perfect for everything from academic classes to fermenting! 

4. Join a sports team

If your hobby is a sport, instead of a class you may want to join a sports team. That’s easy in New York too!

Join a sports team in NYC

The best way to become part of a team is through Zogsports or PlayNYCSports where teams in over a dozen sports are organized with opportunities for playing in leagues around the city.

If you like sports but don’t feel quite up to the level where you can compete on a team, a sports club where lessons and training are provided may be your best bet. Chelsea Piers in Manhattan has an excellent sports program that’s so popular you’ll be sure to meet new people. The Brooklyn Bridge Park also has sports opportunities if you sign up early in the season…

5. Meet people through an app

If you’ve become used to meeting people through apps, you could always do everything we’ve already talked about through an app. Apps have become a favorite way to get almost anything done and making friends is no different.

If you’re looking to take part in a class, the Meetup app has a wide variety of free interest groups you can join by simply registering and showing up.

If you’re looking to meet cool people without doing an activity, you’re likely to enjoy BumbleBFF which has some of the most interesting people actively looking for friendships.

6. Reach out to work associates 

Making friends at work sometimes gets a bad rap. But many lasting friendships have been formed when work associates discovered they had things in common. Don’t be scared to reach out to people you find interesting at your job.

Make it a quick drink at first so there is no pressure on you or the person you asked to hang out.

If everything flows well, try meeting for something more substantial the second time around. Before you know it, you’ll have a regular happy hour buddy!

7. Volunteer at a charity

If you’re interested in making the world a better place, meeting new people in NYC who have similar philanthropic desires may be the best way to form connections that feed your soul. 

Volunteer at a charity in New York

If you love animals, try volunteering at the ASPCA where there are numerous opportunities to help furry creatures in need. 

If you’re looking to volunteer with people, check out the well-run Browery Mission for a long list of volunteer opportunities including mentoring and feeding the homeless.

8. Move into a coliving space

There’s nothing more daunting than moving to a big city where you don’t know a single soul, and New York is as nerve-wracking as it gets! If you’re keen to meet a community of like-minded individuals, check out some coliving options.

We’re a bit biased, but Cohabs offers fully-furnished accommodations in both Brooklyn and Manhattan with a ton of extra amenities such as monthly breakfasts, weekly cleaning, community events, and much more.

9. Take a bus when you can

The subway is the most popular way to commute around New York. But it’s definitely not the best commute option if you’re looking to make friends. For one, the trains are always jam-packed so the opportunities to make eye contact and initiate conversation are few. And since they serve vast areas, it’s hardly likely you’ll see the same person a second time if you do manage to strike up a conversation.

Take a bus in NYC when you can

The buses are different though. 

Bus stops serve an area limited to a few blocks. Because of this, you’ll find that the same people show up morning after morning, at the same time, to catch the same bus. 

Sounds repetitive? That’s the point!

Taking the bus is the best way to meet new people in NYC precisely because you see the same people every morning. And with the bus stop being less crowded you’re more likely to make eye contact and feel comfortable enough to start a conversation.

Our suggestion? Ditch the train if you can, and take the bus.

10. Choose a coworking space if you work remotely

Coworking spaces bring entrepreneurs, tech workers, and other remote workers together in an intimate space that is a perfect way to meet new people in NYC. Depending on what you chose you may share a desk or an office. And it’s likely you’ll see the same people a few times if you keep using the same space. 

Since everyone is there to work, you’ll want to keep conversation to a minimum if it’s obvious the coworker next to you is busy. But keep an eye out for when they take their breaks and try to engage them then. With remote work in common you should have lots to talk about!

New York City can be lonely for newcomers. But try some of the ideas on this list and you’ll find your social circle growing and the connections you crave.

If you’re looking for a place to live in New York for 6 months or more, and really get to know the city, check out our coliving homes for a community-focused experience!

About the author Rosheda's fingers are always stuck to a laptop. Travel, legal issues surrounding travel, and real estate are her current specialties.