• expat tips goa how to meet people

What it was like moving to Goa knowing no one

So, I actually wrote this post nearly 3 years ago and never posted it. I just found it while sorting through my draft folder. I edited it so it made sense for now, but it was interesting to see what I was thinking back then.

Girls email more often than you would think because they are moving to India and want to know how they can meet other Western friends. In “smalltown” India there aren’t really many online ways. It’s usually fine and you meet people as you go along, but when you’re feeling “ugh” and having a bad day, you can really start to miss your friends back home!

Per usual, when I write a personal post, it’s mostly unorganized and hard to follow. I even edited this one! Ha, but my thought process is just scrambled lol.  But, I hope if you’re feeling a little down you can relate and see that everyone who moves abroad, at first, doesn’t know a soul and might feel a bit down- but it won’t stay that way!

Expat Tips goaPriyanka & Niki, Ben, Tia & Ava (my friend Amy’s baby that’s so stinkin cute!)

Even in a beach paradise, a bad day can happen. When you’re an expat in a foreign country, a bad day can remind you how many hours from home you are (40), how your friends back home have babies you haven’t met, and how many days it’s been since your last Taco Bell (300) (kidding sort of). That bad day becomes a whole lot worse.

goa travelbad day face

Moving to a big city in your home country, you might know someone who knows someone and voila! Friendships form. For me, moving to Charlotte was nothing compared to moving to India. Even if you didn’t know a soul you could find some on couchsurfing.org, meetup.com, in yoga class, work, or at the gym.

Expats Tips | Meeting other expats

I’ve been here over 3 years now and am lucky that I’ve made some friends I know I”ll stay friends with even after I leave India.

Making friends doesn’t just fall into your lap when you move abroad. I was 22 when I moved here and used to making new BFFs every other day back home through friends of friends and at bars or house parties.

In a village in India meeting people is nothing like it is at home. When I first came to India, I was meeting cool people but they were often passing through. I also found with different nationalities it can take longer to get to know someone. It’s also different when you’re 26 because it’s not like girls are having sleep overs at that age! Now we, ya know, meet for coffee.

Expat TipsGoa nights out Italian dinner with Tia & babycakes, nights out in Baga

There are groups for expats like InterNations, but most of these are for big cities. No options for Goa, India (yet). With tourist season bus loads of like-minded tourists come rolling in. As fast as they come, they leave.  This is the downside of living in one of the most travelled places in India.

When I first came here, my boyfriends’ guy friends were my only friends. It’s weirdly harder to make friends with girls when you’re older and don’t have a job ha ha. Ben’s friends weren’t up for trying a sugar facial I found on Pinterest and talk about makeup or if the choker necklace trend is going to stick around.

mean girlsI’ve tried making Ben watch Mean Girls multiple times, but he always finds a way out of it

Nothing makes a place feel more like a home than having friends over for movie nights, drinking games, or getting dolled up for a night out. What if you don’t have any girls to come over for a mani/pedi, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills watching sesh?

I’ve been hugely blessed in the friend department back home and luckily have met some girls here too.

Expat Tips Expat TipsI’ve lived in different states than most of my friends back home and when we see each other nothing has changed at all, so why should living in another country be different? But, for some reason it is.

Since I’ve left friends have gotten married, I’ve missed close friends wedding, the birth of their babies, and their first home purchases. They’re all grown up! This Mother’s Day I message 3 of my BEST friends since I was little and told them happy Mother’s day. Every summer that I go home I get a bridesmaid dress on for a friends’ wedding.

RHOBH, beverly hills, I watch my reality TV here so I can remember what America is “really” like. 

This was not the first time I’ve started over.  First there was college, but going to university an hour from home doesn’t count when on a walk to class you are probably going to see a familiar face. Then I moved to Charlotte where I didn’t know anyone in the state (really in the south for that matter) and I met girls I will stay friends with for life. That was easy. I moved to Seattle with one of them for a few months last winter. It’s not always that easy in another country.

tacoma, washington

Another country means another culture.

Trance music trumps hip-hop. As for country music…not a chance someone will relate. Replace Hollywood with Bollywood and Hot Pockets with samosas.

Differences make it harder to relate to people and even though deep down we all have the same issues like work dilemmas & relationship problems, those little things are what made me become close with friends easier back home.

Expat Tips

When you first move abroad, knowing no one, I guess it’s something you just need accept: it’s going to take some time to meet a group of friends. People can be clicky. People can see you as another tourist passing through and not want to bother. Especially here in Goa, there aren’t other Americans (there are like 2) and we are known for being over friendly- chatting to people in the grocery store. English people would think you were mad if you did that. In the US Ben actually said to me at the grocery store, “what’s going on, people keep smiling at me”. I’m like because you made eye contact so it’s just what you do. He’s like that’s odd. You have to take into account different nationalities and how they act. But it turns out even French girls are sweethearts unlike the stereotype.

Places to visit in Goa in 3 daysThe biggest thing I’ve learned is that no matter how far I am from my friends in the US, I can still call them and I might as well be in the same town with apps like skype and whatsapp.

No, it’s not the same as sharing a bag of Cheetos on the couch with them or sneaking Oreos and milk into a movie theater, but considering when I first moved here I knew no one, it was helpful.

I miss these kinds of get togethers... throw back to one of our Christmas ExtravaganzasI miss these kinds of get togethers… throw back to one of our Christmas Extravaganzas almost 10 years ago complete with gingerbread village! 

Remember that if a friendship has faded because of distance, it probably would have anyways. Try not to stress about losing touch and try to be in the moment with new friends you’ve made along the way. I find that my closest friends and I still talk a lot and even the ones I don’t are like sisters to me that when I do come home and see them nothing has changed. As you grow older, you lose touch with people anyways- even if you don’t move away so you don’t have to feel guilty for that.

Expat TipsAs indians say “time passing” by doing photoshoots for Tia’s clothing & bikini line

Also remember that if you’ve just moved somewhere new, it takes time to meet people (especially girls!) and especially if you aren’t out partying.

I would suggest a few things:

  • If you get asked to dinner by a group of possible new friends, go even if you don’t feel like it. They might not ask you again.
  • Remember that even if someone you start hanging out with isn’t really your cup of tea, you can meet more people through them.
  • Go out more! Get out of your house. Even if you’re too old to party, go to some bars. Eat out at restaurants, get to know the locals.
  • Try to find some classes. Even in small towns you can often find a yoga or work out class. I hate yoga, but I gave it a go when I moved here.
  • If you see signs for some type of get together or reading club, hit it up. You might meet your new bestie!
  • If you’re shy, try to be a little less shy when you meet new people and maybe even bring up a time to go hang out again. You have to get out of your shell a bit.

If you’re having a lonely expat day or are new to an area, try to remember why you moved where you did. It was beautiful, or you fell in love with someone beautiful. Maybe you had a connection with a person or place and you just couldn’t leave.

Update: I wrote an ebook, Insider’s Guide to Goa. It’s 170 pages filled with the most up to date, comprehensive information about Goa plus it has all my secret places to go that I’ve found after living here almost five years.This book has 50x more information about Goa than my blog and is organized to make things easy for you to find. Click here to buy it now. It has a whole section on meeting people and information for those moving to Goa.

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big purple box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on facebook, twitter, instagram & bloglovin‘.


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Nikita May 11, 2016 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    So funny you posted this today. I am really itching to move to India, but since ESL teaching isn’t very needed there I don’t know how I would support myself. I am thinking of saving up and just going anf hope something blooms organically but that seems kind of dumb too. Haha. What do most expats in India do for a living?

    • Rachel Jones May 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      Many make their own clothes or furniture, or anything really to sell. You can also work as a waiter or bartender

  2. Sou May 12, 2016 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Hello girl,

    I loved your blog and especially this article!

    I moved to Delhi few months ago and can totally relate, even if it’s a bigger mess haha.

    If you are planning on visiting Delhi, give me a shout!


    • Rachel Jones May 13, 2016 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Haha Delhi is my nemesis but good to know you are there! I don’t know many people in Delhi :)

  3. Kate May 12, 2016 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    I’m a Canadian living in Madrid and this post totally hit home. So many of the people I meet are only here temporarily, so it’s taken a little (long) while to establish a friend group. While it’s different than what I’m used to at home, it’s not bad or horrible, just different and part of the journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences!

    Kate | http://www.petiteadventures.org

    • Rachel Jones May 13, 2016 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Kate, I’m glad you can relate. I imagine a lot of expats have these similar feelings. I’m glad you met some friends there – at least you must have some amazing food to go out to dinner with new people! mmm

  4. Betsy May 12, 2016 at 3:47 pm - Reply


    So funny that you just posted this. On Saturday I will have been in Udaipur for a month. I know a few people here, both foreign and local, but I still feel like I need a wider social circle. It is also interesting because back home most of my friends are a few years younger than me. Everyone I know here is older than me. Weird.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Rachel Jones May 13, 2016 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Hey Betsy, I also find more people here are older than me! Then there is a young young crowd, like 19 years old. Funny how that is!

  5. Elen May 14, 2016 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    I found the same thing in Kathmandu about people being transient–although here it tends to be development/UN workers more than just tourists. But with that comes everyone’s willingness to make new friends. I’ve found it much easier to make friends here than back home, because people don’t tend to be ‘stuck’ in a circle or clique. People are coming and going every year or 6 months, which kind of sucks when you meet people you really like, but it also means that everyone’s always on the lookout for new friends!

    • Rachel Jones May 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      That’s great that you have that. Really cool! I think in Goa it’s mostly expats who moved here so the cliquiness is here for sure, I try to make sure I don’t become that way!

  6. jipp May 17, 2016 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    “Remember that if a friendship has faded because of distance, it probably would have anyways. Try not to stress about losing touch and try to be in the moment with new friends you’ve made along the way. I find that my closest friends and I still talk a lot and even the ones I don’t are like sisters to me that when I do come home and see them nothing has changed. As you grow older, you lose touch with people anyways- even if you don’t move away so you don’t have to feel guilty for that.” totally agree with this :-)

  7. Such a good post Rachel!
    I’ve been an expat in Berlin for 16 years now (yikes!) but I still remember the first day that I came! I practically knew no-one except my German boyfriend who then introduced me to an Irish-French girl who he saw sitting alone at a bar! Anyway, we became good friends. We still are, even though she moved back to France and I stayed in Germany and got married, etc!

    In fact, we went to visit her a few years ago, and her brother now lives in Hong Kong, but we all still connect! It’s true that in touristy cities, lots of people come and go, but there’s also still a few of us around however, it’s important to make friends with the locals too. They’re not too bad. Quite different, but awfully nce people too!

    • Rachel Jones May 17, 2016 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Victoria! Wow 16 years!! That’s incredible. Thanks so much for sharing your story :) Yes the local friends are always a blast as well, especially in India as you can go to families’ houses during festivals!

  8. Harsh May 19, 2016 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Hey Rachel,

    Well written with loads of travel experiences, WOW. I was mostly smiling while reading few of the tips which I could relate to.

    Goa is my fav travel destination in December (being an avid EDM lover). Also love the culture and social mix there.

    I am currently based in JODHPUR now for work. Do give me a shout if you are here, love to catch up with likeminded people.


  9. Adit Rashmi September 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Brilliant! Never been an expat because of the fear of isolation in an unknown world. Born Indian, perhaps the family dependence is ingrained… lol! Lovely write up

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