How do I make friends without breaking the bank?
March 28, 2007 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I need a less expensive way to make friends. Any suggestions?

Yet another "give me more ideas about making friends in a new place" question.

Judging from the numerous questions I've asked related to my move to Phoenix (click handle for more), I'm having a really hard time getting adjusted here. It's a big, spread out growing place with people of varying degrees of friendliness.

One of the things many people have suggested when questioned about making friends is that I make finding new acquaintances an everyday thing, i.e., going to the same coffee shop each morning, eating at the same breakfast place each week, frequenting the same bar.

I've been trying to do this with the understanding that the interactions I have there might lead to some friendships (I have not one, not ONE friend here and the guy I was dating is out of the picture too).

Is there another way to go about this making new friends without depleting my savings? I've tried the Craigslist route. No luck. Also, I'm taking some time off from dating so that's not an option.

I should add that I'm a liberal black girl in what is the whitest place I've ever lived ...and I spent four years in Minnesota! Not that white people aren't nice. Some of my best friends ...and ex-boyfriends ..are white! :)

I did visit the Unitarian Universalist church last weekend...It was nice but everybody was like 80 years old.

I have to stay here for awhile. I do love the weather and the laid back atmosphere and even appreciate living closer to my neurotic parents ... but I need friends!
posted by notjustfoxybrown to Human Relations (37 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Schedule a Metafilter meetup!
posted by junkbox at 10:54 AM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

Try finding clubs and groups for things you are interested in. Some of these will meet in coffee shops, so there is a bit of expense, but cheaper than going every day. This will at least get you meeting people who you have something to talk about with. If you can't find anything you like, organize a MeFi meetup.

Hanging out at the coffee shop is a very hit or miss way to make friends - you will probably get people saying hi to you, but this will be tough to move to freindship. If you are looking for a cheaper way of doing this, try going for a walk through your neighborhood at the same time each day. If no one else walks in your neighborhood, pick a different one. This strategy will probably work better if you have a dog.
posted by yohko at 10:55 AM on March 28, 2007

junkbox is faster than me... schedule a MeFi meetup in Phoenix.
posted by togdon at 10:55 AM on March 28, 2007

Most cities have free workshops, lectures, classes, and that sort of thing at local libraries, universities, etc. Pick some that you like, go to them, and strike up conversation with other people at them.

A friend of mine who is quite introverted moved to a new, big city several years ago and didn't know a soul. She spent the first week miserable and lonely. Then one night she was eating at a restaurant by herself and did the most brave thing she could have done socially: She saw a group of girls at a nearby table who looked like people she would want to hang out with, and she approached them and said something like "I realize this probably makes me seem like a weirdo, but I just moved to this city a week ago and don't know a single person and I'm eating here alone. You look like people that I would hang out with. Could I join you for dinner? I promise I'm not as crazy as I probably seem right now."

They invited her to join them for dinner, told her all about the city, etc., and years later they are all incredibly close friends.

I'd like to think that I'd be as brave/crazy as her in a similar situation, though I probably wouldn't. It probably helped that she is attractive and well-put-together. But I assume that, like all MeFites, you, too are attractive and well-put-together.
posted by The World Famous at 10:55 AM on March 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

There are always Dear Abby's oft-repeated standbys:

Volunteer somewhere, take a class in something you're interested in, or go to church social functions.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 10:59 AM on March 28, 2007

ALso check out for meetups on stuff you're interested in.
posted by tristeza at 11:02 AM on March 28, 2007

Volunteering for local charities can be an excellent way to meet open-minded and interesting people in your area. You already know most of the other volunteers will have the kind of character you look for in a good friend since they are giving their time freely to help others.

Opportunities run the gamut from volunteering at a youth shelter to staffing political information booths at fairs and rallies. If you choose your volunteer position carefully you can usually guess at what age the other volunteers will be. is a good place to start.
posted by OpinioNate at 11:05 AM on March 28, 2007

Phoenix Craigslist activities and events. Some of 'em are cheap or free.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:06 AM on March 28, 2007

Check the New Times for classes or clubs you might be interested in. Many are free. I don't live in PHX anymore so don't know if there's other free weeklies you can check.

Although they cost money, ASU and MCC extension classes might also be an option to meet people. Obviously, you'd want to sign up for something that is interesting so if you don't make new friends, you at least have fun learning something you're interested in.

Phoenix is big and spread out and it is sometimes hard to connect with others like you might some other cities. I moved there to go to ASU and the apartment complex came with built-in drinking buddies and some became long lasting friends.

And exploit your new in town status as a way to introduce yourself and do things you normally might not do [like The World Famous' example of just going up to someone in the restaurant]. If it doesn't pan out, don't be overly embarrassed, remember no one knows you there so there's not much to worry about.
posted by birdherder at 11:09 AM on March 28, 2007

If you are into things like running, swimming & biking, there are a lot of people that meet to do these things through formal clubs and not so formal clubs (yahoo groups, for example). These groups usually welcome newcomers, visitors, friends-of-friends, etc.
posted by probablysteve at 11:10 AM on March 28, 2007

Response by poster: These are all great ideas. Some I have tried. I went to a mixer for a local volunteer organization. Apparently, I'm not even cool enough to volunteer with them...But I won't give up.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 11:18 AM on March 28, 2007

I'm in the Phoenix area! Here I am!! Anyway - I grew up in Pennsylvania - small town and moving out here was really hard because everything is so spread out. I'm in a different ship than you are though - I'm married and I have kids, so socializing is out of the question for me. BUT, I agree with what other people have said - to frequent the same coffee shops or the grocery store. Make your own little town in Phoenix. I go to the same grocery store, gas station, etc. and people have started recognizing me. The bag boy at the grocery store knows all about me (is that creepy?) and my family back east.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Technically it is - but it takes time. Like a year . . .seriously. It took us a year for us to feel like insiders, instead of outsiders. It took us a year to feel normal at church, even though every one was totally friendly with us - we just didn't have a history with them, so it takes a while to build up that history.

Give it time. Keep going to the same coffee shop, church, grocery store, fitness center. Keep going. It takes time. Be patient. Good luck!
posted by Sassyfras at 11:20 AM on March 28, 2007

(Y'all, she said in the OP that she's already tried the Craigslist and church routes)

Just an addendum on The World Famous' post, which I second:

Here's the calendar of events for Arizona State University's downtown campus. It is likely to have more returning students and commuters (read: older and local) than the Tempe campus, which is your typical undergrad party mecca. Lots of the events listed there are not just uni activities but open to all.

I would plan overall to look for activities where you can interact with intelligent people: bookstore events, Toastmasters, museum events.

I don't know if this is an option for you, but an ex of mine overcame a cold move from Houston to Memphis by going to work part-time as a waiter. He went to a few restaurants on scouting trips, and took a look at the service and bar staff, to see if they seemed collegial and friendly. He eventually ended up going to work at a Houston's. Waitstaffs are notoriously social and tend to congregate after shifts end; soon enough he had loads of friends and acquaintances.

Of course, he happened to also need a job at the time, so that aligned well. He did not have any waiting experience, but I don't think that's hugely important in this case. It's easy to talk oneself into a cocktail waitress or hostess gig without having had experience.

Just a thought! Good luck!
posted by pineapple at 11:20 AM on March 28, 2007

I've made all my lasting friendships through jobs, community projects (volunteer/organizing), school, being roomates, or dating the person. In other words, sharing an intense, ongoing connection with the person.

I have never made a long term friendship in a coffee shop, bar or club, but that might be because I spend less time doing those things.

Also, trying to find people in a similar situation to yours might be a good bet. If you feel a little out of place as a liberal black girl in that town, most likely, other liberal black girls (or liberal black guys, or liberal asian-american girls, or queer black guys, you get the picture) have the same feelings you do and you could more easily bond than you would with someone who is from the majority demographic. Maybe try to find the social scene where you'll find folks who remind you of yourself.

PPS on the Unitarian tip - see if they have a young people's group/caucus/whatever. A lot of UU churches have 'em.
posted by serazin at 11:21 AM on March 28, 2007

I write this all the time on Ask MeFi but I'm gonna write it again: check out Meetin. A lot of entertainment-type things you might want to do are going to cost some money (people bond over shared activities, and even if you're just going to meet for a chat, you're obviously going to meet Internet strangers in a public place), but lots of these events are free or cheap. I see bike rides, home movie nights and a $2 burger night on the list of recent or upcoming events - not too pricey, really.
posted by different at 11:28 AM on March 28, 2007

Phoenix's page on
posted by spec80 at 11:30 AM on March 28, 2007

When I moved to a new place (Nothern California) with little money I found that the following ways to at least meet people very cheaply:

1. Hiking with the Sierra Club or a similar outdoor club. This is generally free or very low cost. My local chapter has a 20s and 30s club that keeps the old folks out. Although, god almighty, Phoenix might be too hot for hiking.

2. Volunteer -- I found a group,, that includes almost exclusively people in their 20s and 30s. There's not a one brick chapter in Phoenix yet, but hey you could start one!

3. -- volunteer run, generally ethnically diverse, free or low cost, and there's a Phoenix chapter.

4. Book clubs -- you can get the book out of the library, so it's free.

5. Another thought I had (being liberal myself) is volunteering on Barak Obama's campaign. You're definitely likely to meet an ethnically diverse liberal crowd there, and again, it's free.

6. Just the cost of your drinks.

7. -- many free or inexpensive groups.

Good luck.
posted by bananafish at 11:32 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Have you tried meetin?

My sister lives in phoenix and she has tons of friends. She moved there knowing nobody and has picked up her friends along the way. Her closest friend is her hairdresser who she met a week after moving there. Other friends are former co-workers. She met her husband in line for a concert (which they both attended alone).

Overall, it seems like she's had the greatest success meeting people through work. That might not be an option for you since, if I recall correctly, you work in a family business. Perhaps, instead of looking for options that won't break the bank, maybe you could pick up a part-time job for the time being (bookstore, bar, coffee shop, restaurant, etc.) where you would be able to meet people.

Places where you have consistent access to the same people over and over probably make for the best methods for meeting people. Join a happy hour club or take an adult ed class or a yoga class or even join a gym. One of my friends has an entire social circle made up of people she met at the gym. Also, my mom made plenty of friends at curves when she moved to a new area.

Which UU church did you try? the one in chandler? That one is full of old people. My ex boyfriend's father lives in that neighborhood and we drove by one sunday while I was visiting. The members outside did seem like an unusual demographic for a uu church. Incidently, when my ex's father and his wife are transplants to the area and the bulk of their social circle are people they met hanging out at a local bar/grille. But they are the barfly sort . . .
posted by necessitas at 11:33 AM on March 28, 2007

If you like live music of any kind, start going to see some local performers playing in small places where the admission is cheap or free. Ideally the sort where there are 2+ artists/bands as there's mingling time built in. You've immediately got a conversation opener--"What'd you think of that? Do they play around here often? Who else around here should I make a point of seeing? Why, yes, I am new here!"

Or, if not MeFi, join another large discussion forum focussed on something you're interested in with an eye to a local meetup.
posted by Martin E. at 11:41 AM on March 28, 2007

I think you're a lawyer as opposed to a writer, but can you write? What about going to the New Times or one of the other local weeklies and see if you can get a part time writing gig? Bring some sample articles: write a restaurant review/book review/etc of something you liked (or didn't) as a sample.

It's quite easy to talk your way into this since there are a thousand struggling writers in any given city that are usually struggling because they can't meet deadlines. If you can show up you're 90% of the way there. The rest you can learn.

The benefit of all this is that you'll meet some interesting people, get to see/review shows or restaurants you're interested in for free and be exposed to things you might not otherwise see or do. It could be a good way to learn about the city, hopefully meet some cool people and make a little money at the same time.
posted by Atom12 at 11:51 AM on March 28, 2007

In NYC there are lots of free events or discount drink specials. One of my roomies is in americorps and makes almost zero money, so we go out on the cheap all the time. I imagine there are resources for AZ too. In five minutes I found this link:

The nice thing about going to drink specials/free events is that you tend to meet other 'young people', because we're all broke together! Someone who lives in Phoenix may be able to give you more specific sites, but I definitely know they're out there.
posted by amileighs at 11:52 AM on March 28, 2007

Have you checked out the Maricopa County branch of the NAACP?
posted by Carol Anne at 12:05 PM on March 28, 2007

Response by poster: Atom...Actually, I'm a writer and a lawyer. (10 years in journalism then law school). I'm going to check out the New Times route. Thank you all for your support and fantastic ideas.

Necessitas...I went to the Paradise Valley UU...They were all awfully nice folks but there were only a handful of people who were under legal retirement age ... and single.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:15 PM on March 28, 2007

Response by poster: Oh ..and the NAACP..I don't think so...
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 12:17 PM on March 28, 2007

Holy cow, you're in!

One tip I'd pass along: if you call the editor of the section you're interested in writing in, do it the day after publication. That's when things are (relatively) slow and they'll have more time to spend with you. The worst possible time is the day before the paper goes out.

Email me if you have any other writing/paper questions (I have some thoughts on New Times and outlets), and let us know how the writing gig goes!
posted by Atom12 at 12:48 PM on March 28, 2007

I once took a ballroom dancing class. I remember thinking, what a fantastic way it was to meet people in a structured environment where everyone was both having fun and allowed to be a little awkward. There were constant opportunities to chat casually, people always wanted to go out and practice, etc.
posted by cairnish at 12:56 PM on March 28, 2007

I'll tell you what I used to do when I was younger... I would get a part time job at a place I wanted to hang out in & where people I might like would frequent. Not for the money, but for the activity & socialization. I was a waitress in a coffee house. I worked at a travel book store. I worked in a nightclub so I could see free concerts. You aren't depleting your savings, you're actually making a little bit of money, and since you're there to do a job you don't feel as self conscious about talking to people. Even if you aren't making friends, you have a good reason to be there & something to do. You never come across to anyone as though you are there just to make friends, and yet you might find people that have something in common with you & gravitate towards eachother to make friends naturally.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:01 PM on March 28, 2007

Art openings are usually free, with snacks and chatting and mingling. Maybe here: Alwun House?

I guess I'd be more inclined to spend $5 on admission to an event rather than just on coffee and a chair, since odds are higher of meeting people at an event because of all of the built-in things to talk about. To that end, there are lots of cheap laid-back events listed at the Paper Heart, and there's a big local music festival coming up on May 12.

Music and movies at the Phoenix Art Museum are free; lectures are free with admission, and there are volunteer opps as well.
posted by xo at 1:12 PM on March 28, 2007

Seconding (or thirding) Meetup; I moved to Montreal from Toronto a few years ago & I've met several people this way. It's also nice in that you join only the groups that interest you.
posted by Laura in Canada at 1:48 PM on March 28, 2007

Check the New Times for classes or clubs you might be interested in. Many are free. I don't live in PHX anymore so don't know if there's other free weeklies you can check.

There's GetOut, but it's not very interesting -- just the entertainment section of the East Valley Tribune disguised as an alt-weekly.

Hey, has anybody mentioned artlink and First Fridays yet? That's free, and quirkier-than-usual-for-Phoenix.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 1:54 PM on March 28, 2007

Audition for a play! One of the easiest ways to make friends in the world. Look in the paper for community theatre auditions, and just go and see what happens. Its free! And community theatres only rehearse at night and most understand conflicts. You will meet liberal people from all walks of life in the theatre, and theatre people LOVE making new friends!

If you're too afraid to audition, then ask about a tech position. They can teach you everything you need to know, and everyone loves help.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 2:10 PM on March 28, 2007

When I moved to Australia 5+ years ago, at first I was bothered that the only friends I had were those of my Aussie husband. It took me probably the better part of a year to start making new friends on my own. And the funny part is - you know where a lot of them came from? The Internet. It's always funny to be together as a group and have a newcomer ask how I know person X. "Well, we both posted on this knitting message board and somebody suggested a meetup. We hit it off and we've been friends ever since!" I've also had the novel experience of somebody on public transport recognizing me from my blog and saying hello. (Now I'm friends with him and his wife, and some of their friends as well.) So don't discount the suggestion above of planning a MeFi meetup. I went to my first one last year and was pleasantly surprised at how normal and cool everybody was. (No offense, Sydney MeFites. But I had a bad experience at a Slashdot meetup once...)
posted by web-goddess at 2:53 PM on March 28, 2007

I have to say I really enjoy the phoenix art scene. The paper heart ( is a art gallery/bar/performance space that's a cool place to hang out, and they have things going on in the evenings most days of the week. Lots of cool and interesting and super friendly people to meet there. If the art scene's your thing, drop me a note (email in profile) and perhaps you could join us next friday (apr 6) for the first friday art walk or something.
posted by shkoo at 4:02 PM on March 28, 2007

It's a site with a huge amount of use in the Bay Area especially with techheads, but looks like there's also a page for Phoenix on It's kind of like, only with events listings, and people can set up groups for particular interests or locations. It might prove useful. There's also eventful - heck, there's no shortage of sites that list events.

Ah Phoenix, home of the Meat Puppets, one of my most favourite bands ever. Sorry, completely random derail there.
posted by rmm at 4:05 PM on March 28, 2007

Team sport.
posted by hAndrew at 8:59 PM on March 28, 2007

Fourth or fifthing Meetup, and you might find this group
of interest if you are within their apparent age group.

There seems to be several Valley of the Sun-ites here. If anyone is seriously interested in organizing a MeFi meetup, I'm game. My e-mail address is in my profile.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:03 PM on March 28, 2007

maybe tribe (phoenix)
posted by hazel at 12:01 AM on April 1, 2007

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