Beyond unpacking boxes, picking out curtains, and buying an unnecessary number of succulents, one of the best ways to truly feel settled into a new home is to connect with your neighbors. For those of us who are a little green to networking, here are 6 unique ideas to help you start building meaningful relationships in your community.
We get it. After breaking down the 15th box, measuring space for furniture, and sorting out dish rags from dust rags, the last thing you want to do is go outside and make small talk. But moving into a new neighborhood is a lot like starting your first day of school - the initial impression you make with your peers can help set the tone for the rest of your stay.
And in an age where we are so connected by technology, it’s a bit astonishing how we can spend years living across the street (or across the hall, if you live in an apartment) from our neighbors, and never share a meal or a conversation.
Not sure how to make the first move? Don’t worry - we’ve got 6 unique ideas for building friendships with your community (without having to bust out the embarrassing dad jokes).
Show Off Your Skills
Got a talent or a skill that you think would be interesting or useful to others? Find a way to share it. Whether it’s a comedy night at your favorite bar or a karaoke sing-off at your local coffee shop, there are often community events where you can showcase your inner entertainer.
Another great way to show off your skills is to start a side hustle. Got a knack for putting together furniture? Advertise it on TaskRabbit for your local hood! Really great with kids? Make a babysitting profile on Care.com. Make a mean sourdough or chocolate chip cookie? Start putting up flyers for a bake sale or even knock on your neighbors doors and offer them some free cookie samples. You’ll be everyone’s favorite neighbor in no time.
Volunteering is a certified win-win move - it’s a great way to meet new people while also making a positive impact on your community. In fact, helping others can also enhance your own well-being. Studies show that being kind to others can actually prolong our lives.
The options for getting involved in your community are endless. Work at a local soup kitchen or homeless center. Join a neighborhood cleanup crew. Deliver meals to senior citizens in the area. Walk dogs for an animal shelter. Tutor at an afterschool center. You’ll build friendships with other volunteers as you work together towards a common goal.
You don’t even need to join an organization to be a kind neighbor. Offer to mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, or check the mail for a neighbor when they’re on vacation. It’s a small gesture but these little acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s day.
Purge Your Stuff
It may seem counterintuitive to sell your items when you just bought an entire new home’s worth of furniture and decor, but often when you move and start accumulating new things, you realize that a lot of your old stuff just doesn’t cut it anymore and you’ll need to find it a new home.
What better way to meet many of your neighbors at once? Depending upon your dwelling situation, you can host your event in your front yard or a common area (just check with your property managers or HOA first).
Once you’ve got the green light, you can start advertising! Start putting up flyers. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are also great options for advertising yard sales. On the day of the event, set up some long tables, add some nice touches with flowers or snacks for hungry shoppers, and start meeting and greeting!
While your neighbors are perusing, use the opportunity to ask them where they live, how long they’ve been in the neighborhood and any of their favorite things to do in the area. Before you know it, you’ll be making connections...and cash!
Use Your Green Thumb
Do you get giddy over raised beds and fertilizers? There are sure to be other avid herbalists, gardeners, or lawn geeks in your area! Notice any neighbors that have particularly spiffy yards or vegetable gardens? Walk up to them and ask to swap gardening tips. There’s nothing garden enthusiasts love more than to share their horticultural know-how!
Consider starting a community garden. Community gardens and vegetable plots are seeing a rise in popularity. For many city dwellers, community gardens are the only places they get to experience nature, as well as connect with other like-minded folks.
You’ll find that there’s something very rewarding about coming in for an hour or two, sharing a lively conversation with a neighbor while digging some soil beds, and then sharing in the bounty of seasonal goodies every year!
Make Some Fur-ends
Got a fur baby that you love spoiling? You’re not alone. According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, pet ownership has increased from an estimated 67 percent of U.S. households to 70 percent. That’s a lot of Fidos and Garfields!
One of the best parts about owning a pet is getting to know all the other pet owners in your area. Next time you’re taking your beloved Milo for a walk, look up and say hi to the other people walking their doggos on the streets. Dog parks and dog-friendly establishments like restaurants and bars are great places to meet other dog-owners.
While cats tend to favor the indoors, there are still chances to meet other cat owners. Cats tend to love hanging out on windowsills, gazing out at their kingdom. In a very non-creepy way, strike up a conversation with your neighbors about Whiskers in the window, or offer to cat-sit if they ever need to go away on a trip. There’s even a dating app out there for cat owners!
(P.S. If you're just in it for the cats and you live in the city, bodega cats are a thing.)
Share The Wealth
Ever hear of the age-old trick of borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor? Sometimes the best way to connect with someone is to just be vulnerable when you need some help. And of course, pay it forward when they need something back!
Nowadays, there’s plenty of technology out there to make peer-to-peer sharing easier. You can share parking spaces, storage space, even your own homes...AND turn a profit!