Humans rely on both kin and non-kin social ties for a wide range of support. In patrilocal societies that practice village exogamy, women can face the challenge of building new supportive networks when they move to their husband's village and leave many genetic kin behind. In this paper, we track how women from 10 diverse communities in rural Bangladesh build supportive networks after migrating to their husband's village, comparing their trajectories with women who remained in their childhood village (Bengali: <i>n</i> = 317, Santal: <i>n</i> = 36, Hajong: <i>n</i> = 39, Mandi: <i>n</i> = 36). Women who migrated for marriage started with almost no adult close kin (mean 0.1) compared to women who remained in their childhood village (mean 2.4). However, immigrants compensated for the lack of genetic kin by a combination of close affinal kin and close friends. By their late 20s, immigrants reported substantially more non-kin friends than did non-immigrants (mean 1.4 versus 1.1) and a comparable number of supportive partners in several domains. These findings raise questions about the functions and quality of these different social ties and how different composition of supportive networks may provide different opportunities for women in these settings.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Cooperation among women: evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives’.