So you’ve made the move, have found ways to declutter and simplify your life and you’re ready for this new neighborhood to start feeling like home. It’s easy to call the corner store yours and find the best coffee shop, now it’s time to make that street yours beyond the inside of your new home. Introverts have been hot in the news lately and as one introvert potentially speaking to another, meeting the neighbors, or new people in general, is not always the easiest task for me. Here are some tactics that worked for me to meet my new neighbors. They ended up being really great people by the way and I’m really happy I went to the effort of getting to know them.
1. Bring your neighbors a housewarming gift as an excuse to meet them. This doesn’t have to be extravagant! When I moved into my last neighborhood, I baked up some cookies and went to a few of the houses to introduce myself. As a person who works a lot and had to commute out of the neighborhood, I found on most days I was breezing in and out of my house to the car, always dashing from one place to the next. Weekends would bring me outside to garden but I hadn’t made any intentional effort to meet my neighbors. After a month or two, I realized the only thing they might know about me was that I usually left the house with my hair long down my back and arrived back at home with it pulled up into a messy bun.
Knocking on the doors was nerve wracking but it was a great way to meet them. I didn’t force myself to knock on every house. Remember if you’re nervous, you can always introduce yourself and comment on some lovely part of their home. Let them share themselves with you and you’ll eventually find common ground and maybe even people to call friends instead of just neighbors. If I hadn’t reached out, I never would have discovered my neighbor to the east was an animal whisperer and the neighbor to the west had rescued 17 chihuahuas. Well, I probably could have figured out to chihuahua thing since it took four trips to walk all the dogs.
2. Do you have a dog? Take them out for a walk! It will be good exercise, you and your dog will love the fresh air and especially if you’re doing it in the evening you’ll find yourself interacting with the neighbors who are watering their lawns or bringing in groceries. I have a golden retriever who finds it offensive if a stranger doesn’t love her from the first moment they see her. My favorite moments are the people who say, We saw you walking her last night and we’re so excited to actually meet her.
Don’t have a dog? Go for a walk anyway! People are comfortable in their own territory and will strike up conversations more easily when they’re already in a comfort zone. Your job is to say Hello and be attentive and interested.
3. My last neighborhood was a historic society so every month there was a neighborhood newsletter. From the newsletter I found a neighborhood welcoming committee, a book club and a block party. You might be in an HOA or apartment complex and while they might not be as active with putting together the information, there are often community boards, both online and in person, that will loop you in to your new neighborhood. Check those out and give something a try.
I know it can be overwhelming but remember you’re a lovely and interesting person. You will find quality people to call your friends, housesit while you’re on vacation, and someone who can help cheer you up on a bad day.