The Art of Having Friends in Far Away Places


Staying in touch with people after you’ve moved away can be challenging. After three moves in the last five years, it’s a struggle I know all too well.

It can be hard to work around crazy time differences and the general busyness of everyday life. Here’s my advice on how to overcome those hurdles and end up with friends all over the world.

Wait, What Time Is It There?

Something that comes up a lot when talking to anyone about life as an expat is timezones. Almost without fail, people ask me with a look of great concern, “Doesn’t the time difference make it hard to stay in touch with people back home?”

The time difference between the U.S. and New Zealand really isn’t that bad, especially with most of my family and friends living in the Midwest and on the West Coast.

If you break down the time difference between San Francisco and Christchurch it’s 21 hours.  Here in New Zealand, we’re actually so far ahead that we cross the dateline; I’m living in the future!

To figure out what time it is back in the States I add three hours and subtract a day. That may sound confusing but here’s a breakdown of what that looks like – if its 12:00pm in New Zealand on a Sunday, I know its 3pm on Saturday back on the West Coast. I’ve found this time difference much more manageable compared to living in Europe during my semester abroad.

My advice is to start tracking the best times of day to connect. Maybe it’s in the afternoon after work or it might be on weekends when people’s schedules are more flexible.

Maintaining Relationships Despite the Distance

Even if time zones are making it hard to schedule a video chat, don’t wait until you have a perfect three-hour block in your schedule to catch up with people. I’d way rather send one or two funny pictures on Snapchat to a friend daily than go months without talking because we were waiting for that perfect time to Skype.

There are so many apps you can use these days, find the ones that work for you. I’m a big fan of Facebook Chat, Instagram, and Snapchat because they’re easy to use on the go. Just keep an eye on how much data you’re using if you’re not connected to wifi or get yourself an unlimited plan.


You’ll Lose Some People Along the Way

The harsh truth is when you move, whether it’s one State over or across the world, you’ll lose touch with certain people. It’s happened every time I’ve moved and bothers me less and less as I get older and have more responsibilities pulling at my time.

There just isn’t enough time in the day to put energy into staying in touch with everyone. You’ll start to realize who were friends out of convenience (i.e. neighbors and workmates) and who are your true ride or dies. I’m a big believer in quality over quantity so I’ve actually seen this as a positive side effect of moving around.

If I spent all my time using social media talking to everyone from back home, I’d miss so many experiences here in Christchurch. Letting go of some ties can help create space for new experiences and friendships.

Offer Your Guestroom/Air Mattress/Couch to Traveling Friends

One fun way to stay connected with friends is to offer up a place to crash if they’re traveling through your neck of the woods. New Zealand seems to be on a lot of people’s travel lists these days and if they’re making it to the South Island, there’s a good chance they’re passing through Christchurch.

It’s a win-win! Friends can bring something from the States you’ve been missing (cough cough good whiskey cough cough) and you can help your mates out with a free place to crash and advice on the best local spots.


To sum it all up – find the best times to talk given your time difference but don’t wait for big blocks of time to stay in touch, you might lose some friends along the way, and consider investing in a decent air mattress!

I hope you found this post helpful. If you’ve got any other tips or questions, let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to keep up with my latest adventures!

Instagram – @adventureswithpetenz

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3 thoughts on “The Art of Having Friends in Far Away Places

  1. ahah love you article, I feel the same 🙂 in the last 8 years I lived in 4 different countries and, even if it is hard, if there´s so much to deal with, in the end I always realize it was another great experience 🙂 that´s why I don´t stop lol at the moment, i am planning to move next year to Tokyo, let´s see if I manage, I hope so 🙂 happy travels, regards from Lisbon, PedroL

    Liked by 1 person

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