In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can have up to 10 villagers on your island, not including the various visitors and NPCs like Flick, Isabelle and Tom Nook. However, there’s close to 400 villagers in the game, and there are a few specific ways you can hunt around to get the ones you want. If you’re not careful, you’ll get villagers you absolutely hate instead, but don’t worry, this guide has you covered on what to do there as well.
1Build new houses
First off, you can’t have anyone move in until you build a new house. You get the first two for free at the start of the game, and get two villagers you have no control over. Once you get a bit further through the game, Tom Nook will ask you to collect resources and build specific furniture for three further houses, and completion of these will give you three more villagers. Once you have these five, you start to get more control over when you bring new villagers in.
You’ll need to speak to Tom Nook after the fifth villager has moved in, and discuss with him about housing. For just 10,000 bells, you can build a new house, and you’ll be free to place it wherever you want. It takes a few days from you placing the plot to the house being built, but in the meantime, you can start thinking of who you want to live there.
If you feel like rolling the dice, you can just wait for someone to inhabit the plot naturally. It takes one day from the plot being placed to the house being built, but at this point it’ll be marked ‘For Sale’. However, if you don’t find a villager to fill the house, the next day it’ll say ‘Sold’. Interacting with the ‘Sold’ sign will let you know who’s moving in. Will you hit the jackpot with someone like Raymond, Marshall or Ankha? Or will you end up stuck with Barold, Elise, or (shudder…) Graham? This way’s risky – in that you have literally zero control – but is also by far the least stressful or effort, as it simply involves waiting.
3Nook Miles Tickets
Aside from waiting, the most popular way to recruit villagers is through Nook Miles Tickets. These are available for 2,000 Nook Miles at Resident Services, meaning you can probably stock up on a fair few if you avoid splurging on Godzilla statues.
Take these tickets to the airport and it’ll grant you one visit to an uninhabited island. If you fly there without a vacant house, they’re good places to farm resources, find new fruit or flowers, fish for rarer specimens or gather up bamboo or coins. However, if you fly with a vacant house, you’ll find somebody by a campfire.
Speak to them once to learn their name; this is useful in case you want to search for their personality online. Speak to them a second time and you’ll be able to invite them to your island. This can be repeated as often as you have Nook Miles Tickets, but if you leave an island, you’re never seeing that villager again. Also, be warned that you need to visit when the ‘For Sale’ sign is there; if you visit when there’s just a plot waiting to be built, you’ll just come across an empty island.
We’ll get to how you force villagers out in a second, but for now, we’ll deal with what happens if your friend kicks out one of theirs. If you have a vacant lot and your friend has a villager you want ready to move out (known as ‘in boxes’ because their house has nothing in it but cardboard boxes at this point), go to their island and talk to the villager.
Much like when you encounter them on Nook Miles islands, you just have to speak to them and invite them. Unlike the next option though, these villagers can’t supersede the ones you already have, so there’s a lot of luck involved in this one.
The final way to get more villagers to your island is through the Campsite. The unique thing with this method is that you don’t need an empty plot for it to work, and it can be used to kick an unwanted villager out. People coming to the campsite are sporadic – you’ll maybe find one every fortnight or so – but if you have any Animal Crossing Amiibos, they can be used to bring villagers to the campsite and ensure you get your favourites on the island.
Again, it’s just a case of talking to them and asking them to stay. At least, it’s as simple as that if you have less than 10 villagers. If you have 10 – which is the maximum – things are a little trickier.
First off, the villager will ask you to play ‘Red or Black’ where you guess what card they’re holding. If you’re wrong and you really want to bring that villager in, you should go back to the home screen, close Animal Crossing, and start again. Keep doing this until you get it right. Once this is done, you should exit the tent and save; this is needed for the next step.
Once you’ve got the card right, talk to the villager again and they’ll offer to move in. They’ll talk to Tom Nook on the phone, and he’ll suggest a villager at random to move in instead. If you’re happy to make that swap, go ahead and say yes. If not, go back to the home screen, close it and start again. Keep going until you get a villager you want rid of, then say yes. That villager will then be in boxes, and within a couple of days the campsite villager will rock up.
6Getting villagers to leave
Aside from swapping for the campsite villager, there are other ways to get villagers to leave. You’ll want to lower their friendship rating until they decide to move, and that can be done in a couple of ways. Ignoring them for a prolonged period of days should do it, and you can speed it up by gifting them Garbage and Garbage related items. For more fun, you can even hit them repeatedly with your Net or just keep bumping into them until they get angry with you.
After a few days of this torture, they’ll get a thought bubble over their head. When you speak to them then, they will ask if you think it’s time they moved on. Tell them yes, and they’ll be in boxes the next day. Even if you treat all your villagers well, every two weeks or so someone will still ask if you think they should leave, but you can always tell them no.
7Getting villagers to like you
Of course, while you might want some villagers to leave, you’ll want to make sure others stay forever. There are various ways to raise your friendship with villagers, and the higher their friendship gets, they’ll start giving you better gifts and their conversations will become more varied.
An easy way to raise friendship is simply to speak to them every day, but there are other things you can do to help out too. Whoever you speak to first gets a slightly bigger friendship boost than the rest, so if you’re looking to level one up, be sure to seek them out. You can also give them gifts; small items help a little, fish and bugs a bit more, and big furniture a lot. If you keep giving them items, they might put some of their original furniture in the box at Resident Services for you too, as well as giving them to you face to face, mailing them to you or offering more recipes.
Clothing is an important gift too, and you’ll want to coordinate this with the villager’s style. Look for what sorts of colours their regular outfits are, and think about their personalities. Jocks like sporty clothes. Smug and Snooty villagers go for more stylish garbs. Sisterly and Cranky villagers love comfy outfits, and Lazy villagers like food patterned clothes. Even giving them the ‘wrong’ stuff won’t damage your friendship rating though, so you might prefer to give them outfits you want to see them try on instead.
Once you get their friendship rating high enough, you’ll get a poster of said villager in the Nook Shopping terminal to display on your wall as a solid indicator of how awesome you are to be around… except to those villagers you hit over the head with a net until they left.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available exclusively for Nintendo Switch.