If you purchase a home in a close-knit community, your neighbors might be lining up at your door the second they see your moving truck pull in. Back in the day it was a common custom for established neighbors to welcome newcomers with a cake or gift, but this old-fashion tradition is now a rare gesture.
Nowadays, meeting your neighbors may require a little extra effort. Just because they aren’t waiting at your doorstep with baked goods doesn’t mean they aren’t excited to meet you. Here are some tips for getting off on the right foot.
Tip 1: Be Friendly on Move-In Day
Moving is tough work. You may not look or feel your best, but if a curious neighbor stops by you’ll want to put on a good face. First impressions are important. No matter how busy you are, take a few moments to acknowledge those who come up to greet you. Even if you can’t engage in a long conversation, you can exchange phone numbers and set something up for a less hectic day.
Tip 2: Follow the Neighborhood’s Unwritten Rules
Be on the lookout for neighborhood norms and be respectful - it’s the little things like having a tidy yard and bringing in your trash in a timely manner. By blending in and following suit, you won’t stick out in a negative way.
Tip 3: Observe Your Environment
First, take note of your neighbors and their properties and how you may be able to relate to them. It’s easy to pick up on subtle cues if you’re paying attention (without coming off as a stalker!). Does the house next door have toys strewn about the yard? Maybe your neighbors are a young family with kids the same age as yours. Does the house across the street have a meticulously maintained garden? Perhaps your neighbor has a green thumb and enjoys being outside. Looks for signs of common ground. This will make it easier to start up a conversation.
Tip 4: Introduce Yourself
If you see an opportunity to introduce yourself, take it! You want to strike when the iron is hot. Things can get awkward if too much time elapses after you move in. If your neighbors are walking by or grabbing their mail and don’t appear to be in a rush, that could be the perfect time for a quick hello.
Tip 5: Find Common Ground
Once you get talking, it’s helpful to lean into your common ground. The most obvious conversation starter is the neighborhood where you both have chosen to live. You can offer up information like what brought you to the area and where you’re moving from. This small talk can easily segue into more meaningful topics about the community and shared interests that you might have.
Tip 6: Ask For the Inside Scoop
Don’t be afraid to ask for some neighborly advice like when the trash pick up is or where the school bus stops. Folks that are established in town are usually more than happy to provide someone new to the area with guidance. Ask them to keep you in mind if there’s something going on that you should know about.
Tip 7: Offer Help
Of course, a great way to build rapport is to do a good deed or lend a hand. Does anyone want help watering plants while away on vacation? Could your elderly neighbor use someone to shovel her walkway? Let them know your door is always open if they need to borrow a cup of sugar. You never know when you’ll need a favor in return.
Tip 8: Get Outside
You’re not going to meet anyone hiding indoors. During warmer months, make a point to hang around outside. Playing games on a front porch or in the yard gives your neighbors a chance to stop by without being intrusive. You can also go for a stroll and take time to greet your neighbors as you walk by. You can bring a wingman, like your dog. Pets always make great icebreakers!
Tip 9: Write a Welcome Letter
If you really want to impress the residents on your new block, you can send them an introductory letter. Only share as much as you’re comfortable sharing and let them know if you are open for visitors.
Tip 10: Host a Get-Together
A great way to get everyone together is to host an informal gathering at your new house. It can be something as simple as coffee and donuts on a Saturday morning. You can mail out invites as part of your welcome letter or let people know when you see them passing.
Tip 11: RSVP Yes
If someone reaches out and invites you to an event, you should strongly consider attending. Even if it’s something that feels out of your comfort zone, it gives you a chance to meet the locals. By putting yourself out there, you can get involved with neighborhood events like block parties, play dates and barbeques.