If you’re pulling up your roots and moving to a new home in the coming months, then you’re not alone – approximately 43 million Americans move each year. But when you’re the “new kid on the block,” it often feels rather lonely. Here are some tips to help you meet your new neighbors and transition into your new community.
Find the “common ground”
One of the easiest ways to meet people in your neighborhood is to find out where people gather and go there. If you’ve moved during the summer and your neighborhood has a pool, take a few hours away from your unpacking duties and literally get your feet wet. If there isn’t a neighborhood pool, find out where the nearest community pool is, and you’re likely to meet some people there.
Pay attention to the pattern of neighbors’ activities – do they sit on their front porches in the evenings? Gather at their mailboxes in the afternoons? Stop to chat while taking their morning walks? Once you notice a pattern, make sure you’re outside during these times so you’re available to meet them. And don’t forget, a nearby market or coffee shop might also be a local hangout.
Use your children
If you have children, it’s often easier to meet neighbors and to make new friends. Keep an eye out for children who seem to be close in age to your own children, then go introduce yourself and your offspring. Suggest a play date to get the children (and the adults) acquainted. If school is in session, go to the bus stop to meet several other parents. Volunteering at the school or joining the parent organization promises to connect you with other adults interested in the same things you are interested in – a solid education for your children and healthy relationships with other parents.
Knock on doors
Your new neighbors may be interested in meeting you, but might feel like you’re too busy unpacking and settling in to be bothered with an unexpected visit. That’s why you need to take the first step by knocking on their doors. Be sure to take a piece of paper with your name, the names of your family members and your phone number written down, and ask them to write down the same information for you. Then, it won’t be hard to remember names later. If you need an excuse other than to just introduce yourself, ask to borrow a tool to hang a picture, inquire about trash or lawn service, or request suggestions for area restaurants or exercise facilities. Remember, however, to be considerate. If you see a neighbor get home with a carload full of groceries, you might want to wait until later to visit.
If you aren't meeting enough people in your neighborhood to satisfy your social cravings, or if you don’t live in a neighborhood setting, then cast your net a little wider by seeking out volunteer opportunities. Your local Chamber of Commerce can give you a list of volunteer organizations, or you can search on the Internet for organizations based on your personal interests. City Council meetings and Board of Education meetings also promise to be a good place to meet others who live in your community, and they will be a wealth of information for you about your new surroundings.
Join a gym, exercise group or team
Again, let your fingers do the walking first, and do some research online. You might discover a local running group or walking group that costs considerably less than joining a gym. But an exercise facility that offers a wide variety of classes and meeting times would also be a great way to meet others who are interested in physical fitness. Similarly, a community center could help you get connected in team or intramural sports, where you’re also likely to develop lasting friendships.
Be a good neighbor
One of the best ways to make new friends is to be a good friend and neighbor. On move-in day, be considerate about where you park your car and moving truck so you don’t block a driveway or cause a neighbor’s mail to go undelivered. In the days that follow, don’t leave lots of trash sitting by your curb without checking to see when it will be picked up. Expect that some people will drop in to introduce themselves, and their timing might not be the best. Be courteous, thank them for coming by and invite them in if at all possible. It may help to have a few glasses or coffee mugs unpacked so you can “entertain” these visitors briefly. And don’t forget to promptly send thank-you cards to anyone who drops off bagels, a casserole or other welcoming gifts.