There are a lot of things on the to do list when you move into a new house or apartment, and while meeting your neighbors might not be at the top of it, it’s something you should try to do sooner rather than later. Our homes are more than just the physical space where we keep all of our things. They’re the buildings and neighborhoods we inhabit, full of people who, for better or for worse, we share this larger definition of home with.
I’ve lived in places where I’ve met all of my neighbors, and places where I’ve never once said a word to the people who inhabited the space on the other side of my walls. And without fail, I’ve always felt more settled in the homes where I also knew the people around me. Having a friend – or at least a friendly face – nearby goes a long way toward establishing feelings of home and community after moving. It also makes it much easier to discuss any issues that might arise, or to get that proverbial cup of sugar when you’re halfway through making cookies and realize you’ve run out.
When you’re figuring out how to meet neighbors in your new home, think authenticity over forced interaction. You don’t have to show up at someone’s door with a Jello mold, but do try to organically establish a friendly rapport that you can build upon as time goes on. Not quite sure how to do that? The tips below should you give you a good jumping off point.
- Smile and say hello
Yes, it’s really that easy. I currently live in a townhome community that’s about 20% young families and 80% retirees, and shockingly, I’ve made some of my closest neighborly friendships here. That’s because developing a relationship with your neighbors has less to do with shared interests and activities and more to do with just being plain old friendly to each other.When you’re moving in, even when you’re harried from unpacking moving boxes and just hanging up after a frustrating phone call with the internet company (an inevitable occurrence with every move), make a point of greeting everyone you meet with a “hello” and a smile. You don’t even have to mention that you just moved in, though you certainly can if you want to. The point is to form a foundation for a pleasant relationship, and a warm, genuine greeting upon first meeting is a great way to facilitate that.
- Get involved
Just like starting at a new school, one of the most effective ways to meet the people around you is to join them in a common cause. Go to that apartment mixer, food co-op, or housing association board meeting and make it known that you’re looking to take an active role in the community. Getting involved is a great way to immerse yourself in your new neighborhood, and it will help connect you with others who are interested in achieving similar goals.
- Ask some questions
Talking about the weather might be the universal go-to as far as conversation starters are concerned, but when it comes to best practices for how to meet your new neighbors, asking a question about the area can initiate more of a conversation and friendly rapport. Most people will appreciate the chance to fill you in on things they know about the neighborhood and local life. Ask what the best place to get tacos is, whether there are any good spots for live music nearby, or, if you have a dog and so do they, whether there’s a good pet park in the area. Try to ask questions that warrant more of an answer than “yes” or “no,” and that can get people talking about their interests. When you see the person again, follow up on your previous conversation and pull on those common threads you’ve established.
- Spend time outside
You’re not going to meet anyone if you’re always inside. Make an effort to place yourself in areas where you’re more likely to come across some new faces, such as your front yard or your building’s common areas. Or, simply go out for a walk. The more people you come into contact with, the greater chance you’ll have of sparking a new relationship. Follow the tips above for initial interactions, such as greeting people warmly and asking a question that encourages a thoughtful response.
- Lend a hand
People often remember what others do more than what they say. If you notice one of your neighbors could use some help with something, be proactive and lend some support. It may mean helping an older neighbor carry in some groceries, or bringing mail to them if it was misdelivered to your door. I became friends with one of my neighbors after finding him shoveling my front walkway after a blizzard. Unprompted acts of kindness are a good way to live your life in general, and can go a long way toward establishing yourself as a friendly neighbor.
- Ask for help
On the flip side of the above tip is the notion that you can also build relationships by not just giving help, but asking for a little yourself when you need it. Most people like to help others, and if it’s not a big imposition it can help build and sustain a nice relationship. If you’re heading out of town, ask your neighbor if they wouldn’t mind taking in any packages that get delivered to your door and storing them safely for you until you get back. Or ask to borrow some tools if you’re doing work on your new space. Show gratitude when they do help you out, and make it known that you’re always more than happy to return the favor.
- Host a welcome party
If you’re up for it, host a casual event at your place and slip invitations in your neighbors’ mailboxes inviting them to come by. Try something like: “I’m new to the neighborhood and would love to meet you! Please feel free to stop by [your home address or apartment number] between 3 and 5pm on Saturday for a casual get together. Drinks and refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there!” You probably won’t get everyone to attend, but you’re likely to meet quite a few friendly faces throughout the day.
Meeting your neighbors doesn’t have to be a scary process. Think of it less as networking and more as just a pleasant way to further ingratiate yourself in your new neighborhood. Most of the people you meet aren’t going to become good friends, but having friendly acquaintances nearby will help support a pleasant environment and make you feel more at home. Be approachable, allow relationships to progress naturally, and never underestimate the power of a genuine smile to brighten both your day and someone else’s.
Original Blog: https://www.moving.com/tips/simple-tips-on-how-to-meet-your-neighbors/