Meeting people in a new country can be challenging. Unfortunately, Germany is one of the hardest countries for international people to meet local people. But don’t give up all hope. In this guide, we will explore how to make friends in Germany.
To make friends in Germany, you need to be open to getting to know new cultures, find a common interest with other people, and be willing to socialize through online or offline events. You can join classes, online forums, apps, and local events like a Stammtisch. Some events might be free, while others might require a monthly or yearly membership fee.
Why Is It Hard To Make Friends In Germany?
Some reasons why expats might have trouble socializing in Germany are that Germans tend to be more distant with others, stick to their childhood friends, and prefer to have a small group of real friends instead of a large group of acquaintances.
3 Tips To Make German Friends
1. Learn The German Language
Germans are more receptive to foreigners when they make an effort to speak German. Therefore, we highly recommend that you start learning German as soon as possible. There are many apps and books that can help you get started. You don’t need to speak fluent or perfect German. A B1 level should be enough to get you started to break the ice.
2. Be Patient When Making Friends In Germany
Germans need time to warm up to new people. If you like each other, you will first become an acquaintance. After a few months, that may become a real friendship. So be patient, take your time to get to know the other person.
3. Stick To Your Word
One of the main foundations of friendship for Germans is trust. So make sure that once you say you will do something, you do it. There is nothing worse for a German than saying you will attend an event and then canceling last minute. So make sure to say yes to meetings you are 100% sure you can participate unless it is an emergency, of course. In that case, anyone would understand why you were not able to make it.
9 Ways To Make Friends In Germany
In this day and age, it is not so common to meet people randomly on the street. Let alone become friends with them. It would be best to have some common ground to bond over the same interest, whether with a local or international person.
Depending on your German level, you can do some or all of the following activities to make new friends in Germany. In our experience, people with a B1 level can interact better with Germans.
1. Meet People At Work
If you are employed, work is a great place to start making friends. Germans love to drink coffee, so you can always strike a small conversation with them in the kitchen in your office. If you work remotely, you can always invite a coworker to have a virtual coffee or tea. I have made some of my closest German friends through work (with some patience 😉).
Related Guide: Can I Work In Germany Without Speaking German?
2. Join Facebook Groups
If you have a Facebook account, you can find all sorts of social groups. You can easily search for expat groups or hobby groups in your region. When I first moved to Dusseldorf, I was involved in about three local expat groups, and it was a great way to meet new people.
3. Sign Up For Meetup
Meetup is a great website to join local events in your area. Users organize online and offline events alike. You can join outdoor and indoor activities, both in English and German. I like it a lot to get to know local meetups regarding my profession.
4. Join A Stammtisch
A Stammtisch is a German word to describe an informal and friendly get-together. It happens regularly and at the same time and location. You can easily google Stammtisch in your city. Some Stammtisch are exclusively created for people to practice their German. So this is a great way to improve your German skills and hopefully meet new people!
5. Meet Your Neighbors
After you have moved into your new home, make sure to introduce yourself to the people living next door. Who knows, you might meet some really cool people! For example, my sister and brother-in-law hang out with their neighbors all the time. They celebrate birthdays and other special occasions together. So don’t be shy. Worst-case scenario, you have made a good impression by introducing yourself to them.
6. Join A Verein
I wish I would have known the term Verein when I first moved to Germany. It would have opened so many doors for me to meet new people. A Verein is a German word to indicate a non-profit club or association. There is a Verein for pretty much any hobby you can imagine. From choirs, volleyball, football, mountain biking, hiking, painting, woodworking, gliding, gardening, and much more.
Whatever your hobby is, make sure to look it up online. To join a Verein is not free. You most likely need to pay a membership fee. I have a friend who joined a Handball Verein, and he loved it! He met new people, practiced his German, and learned all the terms for playing the sport he loves so much.
7. Take A Course At Your Local Volkshochschule
The Volkshochschule or VHS for short is a community school for continuing education. They offer classes, for a very reasonable price, on a wide variety of topics. You can take courses in cooking, fitness, art, languages, and so on. It’s a perfect place to meet other people with the same interests as you. You can easily find your local Volkshochschule by googling: “Volkshochschule + name of your city”.
8. Take Lessons To Learn A New Skill
If you would like to learn a new skill and don’t want to join a Verein or the Volkshochschule, you can always take classes from privately-owned organizations.
You can take lessons for dancing, yoga, painting, cooking, or any other topic that interests you. My wife and I have taken salsa and swing lessons. Even though we did not make new friends in these classes, it was great to meet new people and have some fun!
Volunteering is always a good way to not only meet new people but help others or the environment. Companies like vostel.de provide some volunteer opportunities within the big cities in Germany and smaller towns.
Sometimes finding a volunteer opportunity for a day or so might be difficult. Make sure to keep your eye out for opportunities that might appear in your neighborhood, Facebook Groups, or Meetup.
Friendship works differently in every culture. In Germany, it takes time, patience, and persistence to make a real friend. Here at Simple Germany, we like to compare Germans to coconuts. Because they are really tough on the outside, but once you crack that shell, they are super sweet 🥥. Once you make a German friend, you will have one for life.
During your time in Germany, you will probably realize that it is much easier to make friends with other foreigners than with Germans. But don’t get stuck in your expat bubble! We encourage you to go out there and get to know Germans and their culture. Who knows, your next best friend might be a German 😉.