New to town or looking to expand your friendship group? Don’t worry, Canberra isn’t the cliquey capital everyone makes it out to be.
For some reason, we have a bit of a bad reputation preceding us: Canberrans are a bit standoff-ish, it’s hard to break into friendship groups (half of which were made standing around the water cooler in some public service department or another) and it’s even harder to meet new people.
Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before, but we have a counterargument—not only is Canberra one of the friendliest places to live (after all, we’re basically a big country town where everyone knows everyone) but it’s actually really easy to meet some like-minded people.
Here are five of our top tips on making friends in Canberra—but remember, ultimately it is up to you to get out of your PJs, leave the house, and immerse yourself in our cool little capital. You might be surprised.
Acknowledge that Canberra is cool.
Canberra has a bit of a reputation for being, well, boring compared to the hustle and bustle of Sydney and Melbourne—but if you look under the surface, you might be surprised at what you discover.
Because from designer hotels to ground-breaking exhibitions and some of the best eateries in the country (in our humble opinion), Canberra is not only one of the best cities for your coffee, culture, and cuisine hit—it’s absolutely thriving. All you need to do is look beyond the cliché that we’re just here to house the melodrama of Parliament.
Once you’ve done that (and actually head out onto the street to check out what’s happening around town) you’ll be one step closer to making a new friend—because as you grow to love Canberra and acknowledge it’s actually pretty cool, you’ll quickly love the locals as well.
Join a networking group.
A bit nervous about jumping headfirst into Canberra culture? How about jumping online to start?
We suggest joining a networking group to kick off your hunt for friendship, starting with Meetup, an online resource that lists communities and events that are happening around town. Showcasing the hugely diverse Canberra-based groups that connect people with shared interests, there’s literally something for everyone—think walking, history, and even writing workshops!
The Canberra Gals Network is another great resource. A feminist organisation that consciously connects and advances women and their businesses, they host one to two events monthly—and no matter your age or profession you can go along. Likewise, The Canberra Woman and Canberra Mamas (perfect for new mamas in Canberra looking to make connections) are spaces where you might meet a like-minded friend or two.
Need some more examples?
- The Canberra Innovation Network hosts a range of networking events.
- Screen Canberra is perfect for those interested in the local screen industry.
- MARION is the leading organisation for writing in the ACT region.
But don’t be disappointed if you don’t make a connection straight away—there’s so much happening around town that it’ll take a while to fully immerse yourself and find a like-minded buddy. You just need to choose something you love!
Try something new.
Ever wanted to learn French, try Pilates, start volunteering, or get crafty? Moving to a new town means you can create a new you—and sometimes taking up a hobby can be the best way to meet a friend.
If you’re feeling crafty, plenty of art classes—including painting and pottery—are happening around town (check out our list here).
For Pilates lovers or future yogis, you can see a round-up of local studios here and here (because who doesn’t love the opportunity to wear cute matching workout sets?). Adult dance classes are also a fab way to find your tribe—check out Subsdance and Kokoloco for everything from Latin to Afro—or discover an adult ballet class here.
If you’re keen to volunteer and meet some locals by doing good work, we recommend browsing the Volunteering ACT to find an opportunity.
And of course, you can always visit our What’s On section of the website to see what’s happening around town—you never know, it might just inspire you to try something new!
Say yes to as much as possible.
Coffee with work colleagues? Say yes. An invite out to a networking event? Say yes. The chance to try a new place to eat with your neighbour? Definitely say yes. Sometimes you just need to be open-minded and open to new things—because even though it might not be the best night of your life, you never know whom you’ll meet or what you’ll discover. Simply choose what you think will be interesting or beneficial (or make a good story in the future) and commit to it.
That said, sometimes you’ll need to take the initiative yourself—you don’t need to wait for someone to call you! If you think you have a connection with someone, why not seize the opportunity and organise a few hours out and about? The best part is you can choose exactly what you’d like to do, so you know it’ll be a good time.
Meeting new people should be a fun experience, so don’t burn yourself out, and don’t force yourself to go to something when you’d rather stick pins in your eyes. After all, you get more flies with honey than vinegar, and if you’re grumpy in the corner, it might make it a bit harder to make a good first impression.
Yes, making new friends is never easy but be kind to yourself and take it one day at a time. True friendship will begin when you least expect it.