Even though I moved from Detroit to St Louis almost a decade ago, I still remember the panic that came with getting to know a new neighborhood. I’m an introvert who struggles with social anxiety and I didn’t know how to begin making connections. It seemed overwhelming then, but now that I have built these practices into my life, getting to know the people around me is much easier today. Without further ado, here is my simple guide to meeting your neighbors.
Spend time outside. It is difficult to meet neighbors from inside your home or behind a privacy fence, so it’s important to make spending time outside of walls and fences a priority. If you have a porch or front yard, use them often. My neighbors have a great front porch where they begin and end most of their days. It’s no surprise that they know every person on our block. I’ve lived in three places since moving to St Louis, and I’ve planted a flower garden in front of each home. The flowers give me a reason to be outside, and they’re a great conversation starter. In some areas, porches and yard space just aren’t a reality. If that’s the case, become a regular at your local park, walking trail, or other outdoor space. Spending time outside puts you in the path of neighbors and creates ample opportunities to strike up a conversation.
Deliver a homemade treat to someone who just moved to your block. Include a simple note of welcome and add your name with basic contact information. A few months ago, new tenants moved into the house next door. I made them a loaf of bread (I use this simple no-knead recipe) and delivered it warm from the oven on their first night in their new home. Now, months later, they mention that bread every time we see each other. If a homemade treat isn’t in your wheelhouse, you can buy something local to your neighborhood or city to share. Does it feel weird to do this? Yes, it absolutely felt weird to me at first! But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Find neighborhood groups on social media and start an introduction thread. A great way to make connections in your neighborhood is through social media. This is a particularly helpful approach if you have accessibility issues or social anxieties that complicate spontaneous conversations. Simply find your local neighborhood group on Facebook or Nextdoor and post a version of the following: “Hello! I live on Sunflower Lane and I’d love to get to know more people in our neighborhood. Comment below with your street name and your favorite thing about our neighborhood.” The key here is to keep it positive because we all know that social media has its hazards.
Attend a neighborhood organization meeting or local social event. Many neighborhoods have organizations that meet throughout the year, along with doing special annual events. These opportunities will vary based on your context. I live in a densely populated neighborhood with a nearby business district, so there are plenty of events to attend and groups to join. You might live in an area with fewer opportunities to connect with neighbors. In this case, I encourage you to get creative. You could start your own neighborhood gathering through a simple front yard happy hour or become a “regular” at a local coffee shop. The possibilities are endless!
Use our free resources to get you started. You can download Neighborhood BINGO or request a Neighborhood Journal by taking the pledge to discover the gifts all around you. Both are designed to help you get to know your neighborhood better. Both resources are fun for the whole family.
These five ways to get to know your neighbors are only the beginning. Collectively, I’m sure we have dozens of tried-and-true ideas to share with each other. What has worked for you in your context? Share your ideas below.