We often lead such busy lives that we don’t get to connect with the people who live close to us. After the moving trucks have left and you begin to settle into your new home, it’s nice to get to know your neighbours and the people in the local area. You don’t have to become best friends with everyone who lives on your street, but getting to know your neighbours is a great way of creating a sense of belonging in a new place. Not only is a good neighbour your best ally when it comes to learning more about your new neighbourhood, they’re also potential house or pet sitters, equipment lenders, and supporters in times of emergency or need.
We understand that making the first move and initiating contact can be hard for even the most outspoken and extroverted, so we’ve set up a few tips to help make that process just a little bit easier.
If the thought of knocking on a stranger’s door and introducing yourself seems too daunting and intrusive, start with a smile when you see them out at their front yard or balcony instead. Mailboxes and lifts are also good places. A friendly hello gives you the opportunity to make some small talk and tell them a little bit about yourself. Avoid weather talk by asking for their recommendations for good places to eat and drink, local coffee joints, community groups taking place or gyms in the area.
For parents with young children or pets, the local park is a great place to connect with other families and pet owners. It’s public and outdoor space eliminates potential awkwardness as everyone is more likely to be in a chatty mood. Many local inner-city councils have now also started to introduce community gardens, giving residents the chance to grow and harvest their own produce while getting the chance to strike up a conversation with other community gardeners in the area.
For the adventurous who are blessed with baking or cooking abilities, knocking on your neighbours’ door with small food offerings and saying “Hi, I’ve just moved in next door” works just about every time. Who doesn’t like free food?
If that thought induces all forms of social anxiety, try leaving a jar of baked good on their porch with a small note attached to it saying who you are and that you recently moved in and were around if they needed anything. It’s a nice and simple gesture that can go a long way.
If space allows, why not kill two birds with one stone and throw a housewarming barbeque with your friends and invite the neighbours along? Check the weather report, create a happy playlist and get those barbies started. If the neighbours can’t make it, pop by with a plate of leftover food and say hello.
Again, if you have space and some books lying around, why not start a free lending library in your front garden? They’re little crates or boxes full of books placed at the end of your driveway or sidewalk where anyone can pick up a book and bring back another to share.