We all remember what it was like to be the new person in town. You may not have a social network close by, you don’t know where to go out at night, and if you have kids you’re worried about them making friends. On the flip side, when you’re the longtime resident, you may be curious about new neighbors, maybe even upset if they are replacing a family you came to call friends. Whether you’re moving to a new town yourself, or trying to meet the new family on your street, there are many ways to reach out and connect with the new kids on the block.
Welcoming New Neighbors
You saw the real estate sign go up, spied on the foot traffic during open houses, and watched as the moving van pulled away. If you were close to neighbors who moved away, it can be bittersweet when others take their place. You’re excited to meet some new people, while sad to see your old friends depart. But a few kind gestures can go a long way toward building relationships with the new additions.
The most traditional way to welcome new neighbors is to stop by when they are home with a simple batch of baked goods in hand. Cookies, brownies and blondies are easy to make. Or you can make a themed breakfast basket, such as pairing a baked (or purchased) coffee cake with a bag of coffee. If the new family has kids, enlist your own kids to bake and bring the sweet treats with you, to help alleviate the stress the new kids must be feeling after leaving friends from their old neighborhood.
If your new neighbors are moving in during the summer, and you grow vegetables or flowers, share some bounty from your garden.
Another practical, creative way to welcome new neighbors is to collect menus from local restaurants, providing critical intel on the best takeout in town. You can also compile a list of your favorite plumbers, electricians and other home repair contacts—perfect for people discovering the quirks of their new house.
Whatever you bring over, include a welcome card with your name, cell phone and email and encourage them to reach
out and contact you if they need anything.
If you really want to go the extra mile, and you see them unloading their own belongings from a truck, offer to help.
On the flip side, if arriving with gifts in hand or offering up manual labor isn’t your style, just make the effort to walk over when they are out and about and introduce yourself, point out which house is yours, give them your email and phone number, and simply welcome them to the neighborhood.
Of course, breaking bread is a time-honored way to get to know people, so the next step might be to invite them to a social gathering. If you’re ambitious, organize a small block party. If you prefer something more casual, invite them over for an easy pizza night.
With a few simple gestures, you are on your way toward making your new additions feel right at home.
Getting to Know Your Neighborhood
What if you’re the new neighbor? How can you proactively reach out to the families on your block and start building your social circle?
In an ideal world, your neighbors would be arriving with baked goods and menus to welcome you, but if not, don’t wait for them to make the first move.
Don’t be shy about sharing your information. Print up a letter introducing yourself, listing your cell and email. Buy some festive envelopes and drop letters off in people’s mailboxes.
If you have kids, walk them to the school bus in the morning and see if there’s an opportunity to meet the other parents.
Hosting a party in your new home is a great excuse to reach out and meet your new neighbors. If you are planning any major decor updates to the home, pass out invitations to neighbors for a “Before” party with a promise to invite everyone again after the house is updated. It’s also a great opportunity to ask folks what they know about the house, and perhaps glean some helpful nuggets—for better or worse. (“Oh you know, there was that time when the basement flooded.”) You can also ask for names of contractors and other recommended home repair companies.
Depending on the closest holiday, you could host a themed party. A Halloween costume party, a cookie swap and tasting competition with fun prizes at Christmas, a St. Patrick’s Day feast—anything festive and fun that encourages folks to stop by.
As you introduce yourself to new families in your neighborhood, keep track of names. Draft a sketch of your block with all the houses mapped out. Write down people’s names as you meet them, assigning them to the correct house. Collect emails and cell phone numbers and enter them into your phone for easy access.
Pretty soon you’ll have everyone’s name, numbers and emails, and can start to develop one-on-one relationships with your neighbors. Before you know it, you’ll be part of the established neighborhood, all the better to extend a greeting to the next new family on the block.