After Liz Moved to a Retirement Home at 30, She Started Looking for New Friends
By Kelsey Miller
It was the summer of 2021, and Liz was having a great one. She’d just moved from Philadelphia to Naples, Florida—one of several major life changes that year. “My job had gone fully remote, the lease on my apartment ended, and then I went through a breakup,” she explains. All that plus a year of pandemic isolation made Liz yearn for a change of scenery. “My parents lived in Naples, and I’d been there frequently over the years,” she says. “I’d always loved it, so I decided to make it my home.”
When a unit opened up in her parents’ building, she jumped on it, although technically Liz was ineligible. The community was designed for residents aged 55 and older. Liz was barely out of her twenties. But otherwise, she was a great fit: not big on partying, a fan of fun nights in, and very DTP. “That means down to puzzle,” she explains. Thus, Liz wound up a 30-year-old marketing account manager living in a community of retirees—and loving it. The only thing missing were new friends (or, at least, new friends her own age).
“I tried for a couple months,” says Liz. “I joined a local young women’s group for a bit, and then I tried a church group. But I just didn’t find my people there.” Age, of course, isn’t the only factor in friendship. “It’s hard to find people that match your own vibe and share your interests,” Liz says. Then she remembered: there’s an app for that.
Liz had used Bumble for dating before, so that July, she decided to try the app’s BFF mode. Setting up her profile, Liz was a bit nervous, unsure what to expect. The norms and etiquette for digital dating were well-established, but somehow this felt very different. And it was, she realized upon signing in. “With dating, people are looking for all sorts of different things,” she explains. “With BFF, everyone’s looking to make a friend.” By simply using the app, she already had that key interest in common. From there, it was surprisingly easy to find potentially like-minded friends. “Under interests, people would say things like, ‘looking for someone to go out with,’ or, ‘looking for someone for girls’ nights in.’”
Liz found a handful of matches right away, and soon started chatting with a woman named Ashley. “In her profile, she seemed really down to Earth. I remember she’d written that she was looking for girls-night-in friends, and folks to go to the beach with. That’s the kind of thing I gravitate toward,” she says. “I’m less into, ‘let’s party,’ and more into, ‘let’s go to dinner.’” Within a few days, Liz and Ashley went on their first friend date.
“I remember it felt easy,” Liz recalls, “because we’d already talked so much on the app. I felt comfortable.” Over brunch, Ashley and Liz chatted openly about one another’s families, church (among other things, they shared the same faith), and pop music. “She was so warm. We just clicked.” Even better, Ashley had been using Bumble BFF for a while, and was already connected to others who, like Liz, were looking for new friends (the dinner-going type). “She’d been invited to a get-together by someone else she’d met on BFF, so then Ashley invited me to come too. I then invited another person I matched with on BFF.” The rest is history. “Now we’re all friends!”
Within weeks of trying BFF, Liz had found not only a good friend, but the women who’d become a large and tight-knit friend group. Liz, Ashley, Amelia, Rachel, Fabianna, Zahira, and Brittany recently celebrated their one-year “friendshipversary” with a girls’ getaway to a local spring, where they spent the weekend tubing and reflecting on their first year of friendship. “We were laughing all weekend—about our first impressions of each other and how they’d changed, about how nervous we’d been before our first dates with one another,” Liz says.
They’ve taken other trips together: a road trip to Tampa, a weekend at a favorite theme park. They’ve celebrated engagements and birthdays, and hosted housewarmings. But naturally, their favorite group activity is girls’ night in, which they do at least once a month. “We try to mix it up,” says Liz. “My neighbors joke that we never do the same thing twice. We’ll do a fall craft night, or a tie party where everyone wears a necktie—always some sort of theme. We’re like a little adult sorority.”
Today, Liz’s life feels filled to the brim. Her group has become friendly with the retirees in her community, who often pop in to say hi when Liz hosts a get-together. “My friends think it’s hilarious that I live in a retiree building, but they love it,” she adds. “My neighbors and friends know each other by name now, and will always ask about one another. It’s great.” She has a community, her family, and her new city now feels like home. As for other relationships, well, that’s where Bumble comes in again. “I still use the app for dating,” says Liz. “Not for friends though. I have all the friends I need.”