No matter where you live, you’ve likely experienced the ways that neighbors can be vital to helping you feel safe and welcome in your community. So whether you’re new in town or peering out your window at the moving van pulling up across the street, these tips will help you make the most of your neighborhood experience.
Greeting the people you share a street—or fence—with is always a good way to cultivate positive relationships. Whether you wave at them from the window of your car or wander over to say hello, your neighbors will appreciate the gesture. If you’re welcoming someone new, go for a gold star by bringing over local takeout menus or offering to shovel their driveway until they’ve unpacked.
Take the time to get to know the family next door. Ask tactful questions about their interests, hobbies and beliefs. Later down the road, this might help you anticipate problems and resolve them pro-actively before they arise. For instance, if your neighbor works the night shift, they might not appreciate your Saturday morning tradition of mowing the lawn at sunrise. This also applies to pets. You might have your reservations about that enormous Great Dane, but keep them to yourself until you’ve had a chance to get to know the pet and its owner.
There are some basic rules everyone should follow when it comes to living in close proximity to others. Start by being aware of your noise level. If you plan to have a party, let your neighbors know what to expect and ask for their patience. Keep your yard or doorstep tidy, and if parking becomes an issue, chat with your neighbor about how you can work together to solve the problem. Bonus tip! These types of conversations go extremely well when armed with a plate of baked goods. It’s hard to be grumpy when your face is full of gifted deliciousness.
Organize a get together
If you consider yourself a bit of a social butterfly, why not welcome newcomers with a neighborhood barbecue or potluck? Having a get together will give them a chance to meet everyone at once and exchange information about schools, events and local folklore. It’ll go a long way towards setting the stage for camaraderie and connection. Be aware, though, that some families and individuals might feel uncomfortable in a large gathering, so try to get a feel for what the newcomer would appreciate before you organize the event.
Your community is only as friendly and supportive as you make it. And while everyone has different communication styles and personalities, we all appreciate genuine acts of kindness—no matter how small. Be on the lookout for ways to lend a hand. The elderly lady across the street whose trees look utterly disheveled will probably jump on your offer to clip a few branches (and in return, she might make you the most amazing banana bread you’ve ever devoured). If the young graduate two doors down recently started a new job, your handmade card slipped under the doormat might create a bright moment in a difficult day.
As a neighbor, you have infinite opportunities to create the community you desire. Simply lead by example!