When I first moved to Spain, I didn’t have one friend, and I didn’t speak the language. I was terrified. I had NO IDEA how to make friends in Spain. However, fast forward 18 months later, and now I am so fortunate to have so many amazing people around me.
So if you’ve moved here recently and are worried about connecting with people, don’t fret. Making new friends is absolutely possible. But I’m not gonna lie…. it will take some work. Being an expat can be an isolating feeling, especially if you don’t know Spanish yet. But with a positive attitude and a little trial & error, you’ll find your people.
Below are some ideas on how you too can make friends in Spain!
Start With Social Media & Make Friends Before You Move
Obviously, the internet is where the majority of us interact with others these days. And luckily, Spain is a very popular country with English-speaking expats and travelers. So there are a variety of ways to connect with people with similar interests. In fact, before you even set foot in Spain you can start to reach out and meet people on social media. It may sound a little creepy if you’re not used to it, but believe me… tons of people make new friends this way!
Local Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups are a great first place to connect with local expats in your area. However, not all groups are equal. In some of the larger groups, it can be hard to filter & find people the same age range as you or who the enjoy same sort of activities.
So, be sure to dig deep and also join some of the smaller more niche Facebook Groups. For example, Eat In Madrid is a community for people who love cooking at home! You’ll find a friendly group of foodies who love sharing food recos and pics of their homemade creations.
And in Beauty Abroad Madrid, lots of women share style & beauty recommendations. If you’re looking for a new salon, where to find the best deals on micro-blading, or perhaps would love a personal recommendation for a style coach, this is your group.
There are many more niche groups in cities throughout Spain, so spend some time searching for what sounds fun to you. You’ll soon see how making friends in Spain can be quite easy if you know where to look. Or, if you don’t find what you’re into, start your own group!
Instagram has also become an amazing tool for finding great events near you. While you can visit many different major websites for useful information, following travel experts on Instagram will you get the most current info.
For example, you can follow Time Out to keep up-to-date on activities in Madrid and Barcelona. Also, search for official tourism accounts or those that have large followings and update frequently. Some good ones are Barcelona Secreta, Madrid Seduce, Sevilla Secreta, Visit Valencia, and Naked Madrid.
Or if you’re elsewhere, look for accounts that cover your area. Once you start following the local scene, you’ll start to feel more comfortable and will jump at the chance to attend an event that pops up that interests you!
Also, you will start to notice Instagram will recommend other accounts to you. Some of these could be local bloggers or tour guides who would love to hear from you. So, get active in the comments. Ask questions. Participate.
You’ll start to see some of the same faces following the same accounts as you, and they may even begin to follow you. With time, you may find the nerve to invite someone to coffee…. or maybe they’ll ask you first! You’ll see that pretty soon, people may be asking YOU how to make friends in Spain. 🙂
Take a Class or Workshop
Whether it’s a Spanish class or a business or art course, taking a class is an amazing way to make friends in Spain. Schools that are open are being very cautious and are following careful Covid protocol. Or if you prefer to stay extra safe and only takes classes online, making friends may be more difficult but not impossible. If nothing else, classes are a great forum to learn new skills which can help open your world… hey, more Spanish language skills = even more friends!
If you want to take “fun” one-off create workshops, you can find lots of different options on Facebook, Airbnb Experiences, or on Viator. Two other common sites are Meetup and EventBrite. Both of these sites list a ton of activities that are offered online or in-person. In Madrid, two of my favorite places to take classes are Mad’s Cool (candle & soap-making) and Soho Art Madrid (sip & paint).
So, spend some time looking at what’s out there… you could find the perfect beginner’s yoga class, a personal development workshop, or a drawing class. So sign-up, smile, be genuinely interested in people’s stories. And if you connect with anyone, suggest hanging out for tapas. There are many expats in Spain looking for company, too, as they explore their new home.
Hire Your Own Network
Many people find that the first friends they make when moving to Spain are actually the people they hire. Personal trainers, Spanish teachers, dance instructors, hairdressers, business or life coaches… yes, these people offer services that help you get your new Spanish life going, but they also can become great resources and even friends!
So, think about an area of your life that you wouldn’t mind investing in, and then research service providers that you think you’d connect with. It can be anything! Maybe hire a tour guide to show you around town or teach you about the history of the city you’re in. How about a stylist to help you refresh your wardrobe? Or, an organization expert to help you get your new apartment looking fantastic! Or a photographer to take new headshots of you?
Facebook Groups are a fantastic place to ask for recommendations. And once you find the people that you connect with, it’ll be an easy transition from being a client to becoming a friend.
Get a Job
Whether or not you need the extra cash, finding a job (or side hustle) can help keep you active and also give you an opportunity to make new friends. It’s essentially the opposite of hiring your own network– now you can try having someone hire you! You can start with something easy like teaching English, which is extremely popular with new expats. Or if you have specific talents & skills, like photography, art, fitness, or social media marketing, you can also offer your services and befriend the people who sign up!
And if you’re good with words, one of the coolest side jobs is writing for local websites or blogs. Perhaps in the beginning you offer to write at discounted rates or for free, as you build your experience and portfolio. But, connecting with people already tapped into the local community could provide you with just the right leads needed to start making new friends in Spain asap.
Go on a Date!
Okay, okay… this one is controversial and obviously isn’t for those already in a relationship! But, if you’re single and ready to mingle, jump in and go on a couple of online dating sites. Why not? Manage your expectations though– it’s possible you won’t meet the love of your life, but you can definitely make friends in Spain this way. I can vouch for that!
You could find a day-trip buddy or a fellow movie or art buff to spend some fun quality time with. Heck, that may even be better than finding your next partner! However, before agreeing to hang out in person, make sure you have enough information about him/her to believe they aren’t psycho, tell someone your whereabouts, and get to know them a little bit online first to see if you actually have something to talk about.
Remember, what you’re really doing is exploring… step-by-step putting yourself out there is sometimes what it takes to make some new friends in Spain. And even if you find yourself on some of the sites and decide not to go on a date, it’ll likely make for some very interesting stories!
Find a Roomie
Yes, it’s great having your own place if you can afford it, but having a housemate can be awesome, too. Even if you just try renting a spare room for a few months, you could get lucky. Many new expats first find temporary housing while they look for their own apartment, and that may be a great way to meet some new people immediately.
Who knows? Your new roomie could be a great cook, be game for random trips, or an awesome shopping partner. And even if you do decide to move out on your own, having an immediate friend or two who is already established in your new city could be super helpful as you also get settled. Check out Badi or Roomster for some options.
So Now That You Know How to Make Friends in Spain….. Jump in When You’re Ready.
So, yeah. Even though you now have some ideas on how to make friends in Spain, it will still be a bit of work. And if you need awhile to adjust to life abroad before jumping into the friendship game, that’s okay. Take your time. This beautiful new life you’re creating won’t just appear overnight. But, poco a poco you’ll find that the pieces start to fit and putting yourself out there becomes easier.
Once you’re ready, you’ll find that making friends is easier than you think. All it takes is an open attitude, the will to get off the sofa, and a big smile.
So, embrace this new you and have fun, chica!