We moved into a new neighborhood recently. It’s actually a pretty lovely little place, quite friendly. Not as friendly as I would like, but I don’t think I’m friendly enough with people unless they invite themselves over to my house on a regular basis.
Still, our immediate neighbors came out to introduce themselves along with a handful of other people who noticed when we moved in. We felt reasonably welcomed.
Since there are so many benefits to getting to know your neighbors, I thought I’d put together a list of all the things people in our neighborhood did that made us feel like we belonged, along with some things that we did that we felt helped us get to know the people around us.
Be Friendly to New People
When someone moves in is probably the most natural time to get to know your neighbor, so take notice when a house goes up for sale in your neighborhood. Keep an eye on the Zillow listing so you can know when it’s been sold and you can start looking for the arrival of your newest neighbors!
When they show up, try to go for a walk and catch them when they’re outside so you can say hi and introduce yourself.
If you can, offer them help. Chances are they’re done unpacking the moving truck by the time you’ve gotten around to saying hello, but when we moved in, our neighbors were super generous with loaning us various lawn and garden tools which was awesome because we were first time homeowners and didn’t even have a lawnmower.
You could also offer to let their dog out if they have one, or let them bring over their potted plants when they’re on vacation so you can water them. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just give them your phone number and tell them not to hesitate to call if they ever need anything.
Also, take cookies or a housewarming gift. This is classic, and always well-received. But let’s be honest, despite your best intentions, you may never get around to baking those cookies. Better to find a way to be neighborly that requires less effort than to not be neighborly at all.
Take Advantage of Life Events
It can be awkward to suddenly start trying to get to know neighbors if you’ve been living in a neighborhood for awhile.
*knock knock* “Hi, we’ve been neighbors for like 10 years but I just wanted to come over and introduce myself.”
But life events offer the perfect excuse to pop over with a gift!
Notice an “It’s a boy!” or high school graduation sign out in their yard? Stop by on a Saturday morning with some frozen meals for the new parents or a gift card for the graduate and offer your congratulations!
Go For a Well-Timed Walk
Figure out when people tend to spend the most time outside in your neighborhood and pick that time to go for a stroll around the block.
Smile and say hi to everyone else you see walking or hanging out on their front porch. Ask how they’re doing.
Try to sound like you mean it. I’ll be surprised if you don’t wind up making a new friend or two this way.
Hang Out on YOUR Front Porch
Give the back deck a rest and venture to the front yard for a spell.
The girls and I like to sit out front with a bubble machine. You’d be amazed at the crowd that will draw. Being outside with some sort of activity makes you seem more approachable and people will be inclined to stop and investigate whatever it is you’re doing. You’ll probably get caught up talking again. But that’s really what the goal is so no worries there.
Give your kids popsicles and offer them to kids who walk by if you really want to be popular.
Ask For Help
You already offered your new neighbors help if you followed my advice above. But, chances are, they’ll never take you up on it. No one wants to be the first person in a relationship to owe the other something.
So lead the charge and ask them for help instead. It doesn’t have to be anything wild. Quintessentially ask for a cup of sugar. Or ask them if they would mind checking on your cat once or twice while you’re gone for the weekend.
Once they’ve helped you out, they might feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it. And that’s a huge part of what community is all about: helping each other.
Have a Block Party
This might seem intimidating, but its really not. Just whip up some simple invitations (ask everyone to bring a snack to share!), throw them in all of the mailboxes on your street and get ready to party! Put a sign on your front door pointing everyone to the backyard, and then you don’t even need to clean your house.
Our neighborhood had two different block parties the first summer we moved in, and it was so nice to be able to meet all of our neighbors right away. It made me feel better being home alone all day with the kids knowing that if I had a problem I could go knock on the door of any number of homes on our street and they would know who I was and be willing to help me.
There’s huge value in that.
Invite People for Dinner
So now that you’ve introduced yourself to everyone, waved at the appropriate times, helped each other out, and maybe chatted with them for a few minutes at the block party, it’s time to take the plunge.
Choose a family, and invite them over for a meal!
This is my favorite part, because it’s where the real relationship building begins. It’s where you’re able to spend quality time learning about them as people, their background, what makes them who they are. It’s where the relationship moves from individuals who casually wave at each other from across the street, to friends sharing life together.
What are you waiting for?
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