Becoming A Great Neighbor

In new home neighborhoods when homebuyers are seeing moving vans around them with regularity, it’s not unusual for people to meet one another while emptying boxes or comparing notes on floor plans and upgrades. Everyone is new and has a lot in common right off the bat. But when you move into an established neighborhood, it’s more of a challenge to meet your neighbors.

While introducing yourself to neighbors may not be at the top of your list when moving to a new location, it’s something that is wise to do sooner rather than later.'s Laura Mueller writes about this, saying, “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.”

There will always be people who’ve lived in places without ever having learned the names of people they share walls with or those who occupy the home next door. But those who do bother to get to know people around them usually claim to feel more settled than those who don’t. Mueller describes her own experience: “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.”

She goes on to say that when planning out your strategy to get to know neighbors (if you have one) 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.”

Here are a few tips for becoming a good neighbor:

It’s as easy as smiling and saying hello. Developing a relationship with your neighbors has less to do with what you have in common with your neighbors and more to do with just being friendly to one another. Even if you feel like a personal mess during the move, there is no reason not to greet everyone you meet with an acknowledgment and a smile.

How did you meet people when going to a new school or starting a new job? Moving to a new place is not that different. One of the most effective ways to meet the people around you is to join them in doing something — a potluck, volunteering for something, or helping someone out, like offering them a ride to the train station once in a while. Mueller says, “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.”

Getting curious is also a way to get to know others. When it comes to breaking the ice, asking a question about the area can initiate a conversation and establish a friendly rapport. People love to tell you what they know and appreciate the chance to fill you in on things — such as how the garbage man will leave your bin behind if you don’t place it off the sidewalk. Ask about where to go for certain kinds of food, if there is a dog park nearby, or where the nearest bike trail is. Open-ended questioning (anything that doesn’t require a yes-or-no answer) is best.

Unless you are made privy to a private Facebook page established by those in your neighborhood, it’s hard to meet your neighbors without going outside. Find reasons to hang out in areas where you’re more likely to come across some new faces, such as your front yard or your building’s common areas. The more people you come into contact with, the greater chance you’ll have of sparking a new relationship. Once that’s done, act on it. If you notice one of your neighbors could use some help with something, be proactive and lend some support. Maybe that means placing the newspaper at an elderly neighbor’s front door once in a while, helping a busy mother by offering to carry groceries for her while she retrieves the baby from the back seat, or 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,” says Mueller.

If you’re determined to establish yourself as a good neighbor sooner rather than later, why not consider hosting a casual event at your place by slipping invitations under their front door mats inviting them to come by. you can announce a day and time for neighbors to stop by and meet you as well as other neighbors, providing some refreshments as well. Not everyone will jump at this, but you’ll make some progress nonetheless.

Mueller says meeting neighbors is not scary unless you think of it that way. “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.”