8 Secrets to Making Friends with the New Neighbors
Moving to a new neighborhood is like starting at a new school. You have a limited amount of time to make an impression on your peers, even though you’ll be inhabiting close quarters for a while.
Thankfully, when you move into your new place, you’ll have longer than a 30 minute homeroom period to get to know them, and your new neighbors definitely won’t judge you on what Mom packed for lunch. What they are evaluating, however, is your potential as a trustworthy babysitter or future dinner guest.
As you prepare for your upcoming move, consider these neighborly tips to set off your new friendship on the right footing:
Say hello on the first day. We get it: Once you’ve moved your 15th box of dishes, the last thing you want to do is make small talk about the weather. But, if someone is out with their kids or watering their garden, take the initiative to introduce yourself first. If you’re caught up in a task, at least give passersby a friendly smile or wave. You may be tired, but you don’t want to seem unfriendly right when first impressions matter the most.
Set aside time to explore your community. A daily morning or evening walk is not only good for your health, but it’s one of your best opportunities to meet potential friends. Ask neighborhood experts about local restaurants, dog-friendly parks, community events, or even the exact time when garbage gets picked up! If you’re feeling up to it, go old-school and drop off some homemade cookies as an icebreaker.
Compliment their petunias. Never underestimate how much a friendly compliment (think: “The lawn’s looking great!” or “Is that fresh paint on the door?”) can do for relationship building. Next time your neighbor’s having a beer on the front porch, don’t hesitate to shout out a compliment as you’re passing by.
Exchange emergency phone numbers. This is more than just a practical task on your to-do list. It shows that you’re open to trusting your neighbor should an emergency arise. Next time Rover escapes out the back door, your neighbors will know just who to call.
Don’t be shy about making future plans. If you click with an neighbor, feel free to end the conversation with a friendly “We should grab coffee sometime!” You can even invite them to a casual BBQ or housewarming party. It’s a low-pressure way to connect with multiple people in one night, and it’s more than fine if you’re not fully unpacked. Just host the BBQ in the backyard!
Leverage your networks. Particularly if you’re moving from out of town, tap into your existing social network like your school’s alumni association or church group to identify who might be living nearby.
Tune into shared interests. Just as recess separates the hopscotch fanatics from the basketball jocks, these initial conversations are a great way to identify a mutual passion for home decor, yoga, or country music. If you and a neighbor have kids around the same age, set up a playdate. Or, ask your neighbor to take you along to her weekly zumba sessions. It’s the easiest way to get to know people while uncovering your niche in a new community.
Identify popular shared spaces. Scope out the communal spaces in your neighborhood, like the gazebo at the end of the cul-de-sac, the tennis courts on the next street over, or any other space where people regularly gather. Consider taking a book or a coffee there to read, and you'd be surprised how easy it is to strike up a conversation with one of the neighbors.
Once you’ve applied these tips and successfully connected with your neighbors, make sure to pay it forward by welcoming the next family who moves in! You know better than anyone how intimidating it can be to meet your new neighbors. After all, it’s the people that make a house a home, and the same applies in your new neighborhood.