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Moved to Devon and am struggling to make friends.

(27 Posts)
Elie Fri 17-Sep-21 15:52:36

My husband and I moved to Devon around 3 years ago. He is happy to go his own way, not really needing mates, but I am a very sociable person and have always found it easy to make friends, to go for coffee, shopping expeditions, theatres, museums - you name it we did it. However, since being here I have struggled. I have joined U3A, as I belonged to one where we moved from, but with very few exceptions, there isn't much the local one does that I like. And even the activities I go to, the people, although friendly enough, are not looking for friends as they have their own outside U3A - unlike my previous one.
I have a wide range of interests, from gardening to learning foreign languages, shopping trips to travelling, various sports to day trips.
Any suggestions would be greatly as I am becoming more and more house bound, with the exception of days out with hubby.
I have even tried volunteering but again everyone seemed to go their own way.
This is an environment I am totally unfamiliar with and am running out of ideas.

NotTooOld Fri 17-Sep-21 16:14:13

Oh, that's hard. We've moved about a bit and I've always found that starting up some sort of group is a good way to get to know people. I mean starting your own instead of just joining an existing one. It depends on your interests but it could be an art group, a gardening group, table tennis, craft group, book group, whist club.....whatever your interests are. It's cheap to hire village halls and pubs are often happy for small clubs to meet in the bar for free (they can sell them drinks). Advertise your new group on your local facebook page or parish magazine. You do have to be prepared to take on the organiser role but it need not be too onerous and you will get to know lots of people and their spouses/partners.

Grammaretto Fri 17-Sep-21 16:18:35

3 years is a long time to be without pals!
It is said it's harder to make friends as you get older but when I moved 500 miles away with young DC I found it took a while to be accepted.

The most friendly were other incomers like myself. I guess everyone else was set up with their own friends and relatives.

Could you start a group within U3A for something that interests you?
My DM did that years ago when she moved to a new place. She started a painting group, a poetry reading group and something else - music I think.
Sometimes it's harder if you are a couple.

I met people eventually and then moved again. grin
I put a notice up at my yoga class asking if anyone wanted to play badminton and I would book a court.
6 of us started and we still play 20 yrs later.

Jaylou Fri 17-Sep-21 16:20:46

I am in the same boat but in Dorset, shame we aren't closer. If you are up to it, how about a part time job, or working in a charity shop. You will get to know a few people and things may progress. Have you tried local citizens advice, they may have some ideas.

Grammaretto Fri 17-Sep-21 16:20:50

NotTooOld great minds smile

mrsmopp Fri 17-Sep-21 16:22:55

Sorry you are feeling like this. Are you in a town or village or in a remote area? Apart from U3A is there no WI or other group you could join? Maybe volunteer for the National Trust or similar? Join a walking group? Or start one up if there isn’t one? Do you play Bridge?
Don’t give up! I’m in Devon and it’s lovely

Josianne Fri 17-Sep-21 16:24:18

You list a lot of good interests, but you're missing a vital one if you live in Devon. A dog or two!

Joking apart, Devon is a huge county so you may have to travel outside your local area to find something that suits you. Are you a car driver?
I hope you get some good ideas on this thread. Good luck!

SueDonim Fri 17-Sep-21 16:29:11

Have you tried NWR? The groups often have members who’ve moved into the area and are looking to make new friends. smile

Elie Fri 17-Sep-21 17:53:29

Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions. I would love a dog, but hubby has vetoed it - we used to have 2 and I walked miles with them. I live near the Tarka Trail and love walking down it, but not on my own. Where I live we are in the younger age bracket and as someone mentioned they have their families and friends. We don't have kids, so its just the two of us.
I will look into some of your suggestions and see where it leads.

kissngate Fri 17-Sep-21 19:23:17

We dont live near you however we have walked quite a few miles with our dog along sections of the Tarka trail. The problem we found were cyclists who use it as a race track. However, back to your original question have you checked out your local facebook community pages in Barnstaple, Bideford, Northam or Appledore. I think a local theatre group near Appledore were asking for volunteers. Alternatively Bideford community railway need volunteers for all roles from admin to guards. I'm sure you will find something to get involved with and soon make friends.

dragonfly46 Fri 17-Sep-21 19:34:21

I agree with Suedonim. when we came back from Hola d I was a fish out of water. NWR was my saving grace. I have met some lovely people and it is much more relaxed than WI.

dragonfly46 Fri 17-Sep-21 19:34:34


Callistemon Fri 17-Sep-21 19:43:26

I found Devon difficult when I moved there, but that was many years ago and I was regarded as a furriner by many, including being refused a job on those grounds.
As I was young and then married a Devonian I think I was accepted.

All I can say is, keep on with your clubs and societies, it may take a while for locals to accept you but I agree it is more difficult as you get older as friendship groups are established.

Do you have neighbours? Covid has imposed restrictions but could you invite people over for drinks and nibbles at Christmas if permitted?
Do you drink wine? Does your U3A have a wine tasting group? Members do meet in each others' homes
And the local NWR does too.

theworriedwell Fri 17-Sep-21 21:50:11

I live in Devon, it is the least friendly place I've ever lived. I've been here 24 years so don't think it is going to change. I am desperate to move, felt trapped for many years with children not wanting to change schools (they were at a very good school) and when they went off to uni my husband wouldn't move. He is disabled and just won't consider it.

Last year for VE day my nextdoor neighbour did a garden party, they invited everyone in our cul de sac except us. My children were all living between 100 and 300 miles away, they all settled in university cities. We were so isolated in lockdown and I thought it was a horrible thing to do. We have never been noisy, cause no trouble, I take in parcels for people, got a job for a neighbours daughter when she couldn't get one and her parents were worried and asked me to help as I worked in the sector she was interested in. I despair.

NotTooOld Sat 18-Sep-21 22:00:58

Grammaretto - Indeed! grin

Callistemon Sat 18-Sep-21 22:19:45

I live in Devon, it is the least friendly place I've ever lived. I've been here 24 years so don't think it is going to change

I loved it after a while theworriedwell, was sorry to move and would have gone back like a shot. Your neighbours sound like a load of mean miseries.

25Avalon Sat 18-Sep-21 22:25:34

Still a grockle then theworriedwell. Some seem to be accepted and not others. Not nice to be in the not others group and very unkind. It’s not just Devon though that this happens. Hopefully things will be better for Elie.

Elie you could have friends to stay from where you lived before which might help occasionally. You could offer to walk dogs for people. That way even if you don’t make human friends you will have a doggie one. Could you get an allotment? That it's supposed to get people very friendly with each other. Perhaps try to get on a committee for something - the Parish Council, a gardening club, the village hall - they are always looking for people and you will widen your circle of acquaintances if not friends. Good luck!

grannyactivist Sat 18-Sep-21 22:33:58

I moved to a small Devonshire town 24 years ago and have found it to be very friendly, so I’m sad that others have had a different experience.

Locally there is a ‘friendship group’ for people in exactly your situation, so perhaps that might be something you could start if there isn’t one already. I think there were initially two or three meetings (at different times and days) and then when a core group was formed they started to arrange social meetings including cinema, theatre trips etc.

cornergran Sat 18-Sep-21 22:47:31

I’m sorry you are finding it hard to feel part of your community Elie. It is hard to make friends as we get older. If there is a Cinammon Trust near you it could be a source of volunteer dog walking or fostering. A neighbour settled into this area seemingly overnight by joining a local church and volunteering for every committee there was. She now has several good friends and many more acquaintances. Volunteering, no matter the organisation, does help a connection with an area. Don’t give up. There will be like minded people out there.

Silverbridge Sat 18-Sep-21 22:58:43

I live in the south east but spend a fair amount of time around Exmoor and Dartmoor with friends and as an independent traveller. I have also found these places very friendly and with generational mixing and socialising, if that makes sense. Events seem to attract a wide range of people of all ages not just young or old.

I think you have to be proactive, take the initiative and seek to make friends on a one-to-one basis first rather than try to join established organsations where friendship circles are often well-established and not always welcoming to new members, Sorry to say, some U3A and WI coordinators could do a lot more to make new people comfortable and welcome.

Aldom Sat 18-Sep-21 23:06:59

Another vote for National Women's Register The easiest way to find new, like minded friends.

User7777 Sat 18-Sep-21 23:19:52

You like walking but not on your own. Start a walk and talk group for women. You cant be the only woman who doesnt like to walk alone

Callistemon Sat 18-Sep-21 23:25:10

U3A usually have walking groups, ranging from gentle walks to more strenuous hill walking.
Or you could join The Ramblers, I think there is a group in your area, Elie.

Lolo81 Sun 19-Sep-21 01:36:31

Not sure about how it works down south or even if there is one in your local area OP, but I do a lot of volunteering and the odd shift at my local British Legion social club and we have a load of throngs on for our retired members. You don’t have to have been in the services to join and the membership fees for us (I’m in the west of Scotland are about £20 per year). We’ve got loads of members who’ve been widowed or golf widowed or have less sociable partners who’ve made really good lasting friendships. Just another Avenue that might work for you.

Lolo81 Sun 19-Sep-21 01:37:08

Things not throngs (blooming autocorrect 😂)