Mental Health Self-Care

How to Get to Know Your Neighbors {7 Helpful Tips}

When we moved to a new house, the first thing I wanted to do was get to know my neighbors. It was our first time living in a real house instead of an apartment, and I wanted to get our new life off to a good start by being the best neighbor ever!

Benefits of Getting to Know Your Neighbor

Why in the world would I want to get to know my neighbors? There are lots of awesome benefits:

  • Convenience: It’s so handy to be friends with the people that live near you! All the kids have to do to play with friends is walk outside – there’s no need to set up a play date and drive halfway across town. If you decide you want to have a party with your neighborhood friends, everyone can walk!
  • Safety: It’s safer when everyone knows everybody else in the neighborhood. It’s easy to spot something amiss when there’s a car you don’t recognize driving slowly through the neighborhood. You can also keep an eye on each other’s kids running around and have neighbors who recognize your dog and bring him back when he gets out.
  • Support: It’s easier to offer and get help from people who are geographically close to you. Friends who live 30 minutes away are fine, but its so much easier to have a neighbor walk over real quick to help you move that heavy couch into the basement or drop your kids off at a neighbor’s house briefly while you run to the dentist.

That’s just to name a few benefits! There are lots more.

How to Meet Your Neighbors

Now you know why you should get to know your neighbors, but you have to meet them first. Fortunately, there’s lots of easy ways to do this.

Introduce Yourself to New Neighbors

When someone is new to the neighborhood, that’s the most natural time to try to get to know them. Keep an eye out for ‘For Sale’ signs and the moving trucks that follow, because that’s your cue to go introduce yourself!

If you can take cookies or a housewarming gift of some sort, that’s lovely. But if you’re going to keep putting off saying hello because you haven’t gotten your gifting act together, there’s no shame in popping over empty-handed.

It’s better to say hi without a gift than to never get around to doing it at all.

Even a piece of paper with your phone number and an offer to help them if there’s ever anything they need is incredibly thoughtful.

They may be 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. 

When we moved into our new neighborhood, several neighbors came by just to say hello and we felt so welcomed just by taking a moment out of their busy day.

You can always try again with the cookies at Christmas time.

And if you’re the one who’s new to the neighborhood, don’t be afraid to be the one to introduce yourself instead! Sometimes people get busy and want to bring you cookies but they never get around to it. But most people would be delighted to have you stop by!

Use Life Events and Holidays as An Excuse to Stop By

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.”

I mean, you can do that, but it might feel a bit strange.

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 a meal for the new parents with the crying baby or a gift card for the graduate and offer your congratulations!

And of course, it’s never weird to stop by with a holiday treat at Christmas time.

Hang Out in Your Front Yard

Give your back deck a rest and venture to the front yard for a spell.

I like to sit out front with a bubble machine with the kids or let them ride their bikes up and down the street.

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. 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.

There’s a whole movement dedicated to being #frontyardpeople called the Turquoise Table. I highly recommend reading the book!

Go for a 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, comment on the weather, or ask them what their dog’s name is.

Lots of people won’t really engage you in return, but if you do it often enough, don’t be surprised if you wind up making a new friend or two this way.

How to Start a Conversation With Your Neighbor

Starting a conversation with your neighbor is really the same as small talk in any other situation. You’ve got this! But if you find yourself drawing a blank, you can’t go wrong with offering up compliments!

Tell them how nice their lawn looks, how cute their dog or kid is, or that you love the color of their newly painted shutters.

Then you can ask follow up questions.

  • Who do they use for their lawn service?
  • How old is their kid?
  • What breed is their dog? What’s it’s name?
  • Did they do the painting themselves or hire a crew?

From there, venture into asking more personal questions.

  • How long have they been living here?
  • Has it changed a lot since you moved here? (If they’ve been there awhile)
  • Where did they move from? (If they’ve moved in the past few years)
  • Do they have family in the area?
  • How many kids do they have?
  • What school do their kids go to?
  • Where do their (adult) kids live? Do they have grandchildren? How often do they get to see them?

You get the idea.

How to Get to Know Your Neighbors

So you’ve met your neighbors, you’ve struck up a conversation, you’ve chit-chatted a bit. For some people, this might be as far as you ever want to go!

But if you want to go deeper and develop real, true friendships and relationships with your neighbors, you have to invest even more.

But it will be worth it!

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.

Host 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!

On the day of the event, 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 Neighbors for Dinner to Get to Know Them

Once 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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  1. Liz June 14, 2018
    • unfrazzledmama June 14, 2018