There was a time when everyone seemed to know their neighbours and all of the shopkeepers in their town or community. With today’s busy schedules and more mobile populations, it can be more difficult to capture that community atmosphere we grew up seeing portrayed in movies or reading about in books. Fortunately, it is still possible to create those types of connections. This could lead to lifetime friendships or simply a warmer, friendlier local area.
From a practical standpoint, getting to know neighbours can help to keep your community safer as people naturally look out for each other once they know who lives nearby. You never know when these relationships could play an important part in your life. Here are ways to break the ice and get to know your new neighbours.
There is nothing more traditional than greeting new neighbours with an offering of homemade food. Sadly, in many communities this tradition is dying out. You can help to set the tone by reaching out to welcome anyone new moving in nearby.
One reason why people are more cautious about bringing food to neighbours is various concerns that have emerged in today’s modern world. Fortunately, there are ways to address those issues. If you are worried that strangers might not trust the safety of the food you bring, you can try to alleviate their fears by printing or writing a helpful label to go on the dishes you bring. Include your name, address, and other contact information. This can allow your neighbours to keep in touch and (if applicable) to know where to return your dish once they’ve finished the food. A printed name label is a huge help to anyone who has trouble remembering names or who isn’t sure how your names are supposed to be spelled. If you make your label as a detachable business card-sized piece of paper, your new neighbours can easily add your contact information to their other records for handy reference.
Your new neighbours might have food allergies or might not be familiar with the ingredients in the dish(es) you bring. Include a label with the name of the dish and the ingredients so your new neighbours know what they’ll be eating. This can be a lovely way to introduce your new friends to foods from your culture they might not have had a chance to enjoy previously. A gift of food can be particularly helpful for people who have recently moved. They might still be searching through boxes for their cookware or they might be too busy unpacking to cook for themselves. If your food requires reheating or assembly, provide directions for that to take the guesswork out of preparing and eating your food.
If you don’t really cook or are concerned they won’t eat food a stranger brings, there are still options. Purchase premade food to take over. Items that are sealed in the original packaging are the safest and they would include a label with ingredients and instructions for any required preparation.
Buying a new home is a huge step. You can greet your new neighbours with a gift that recognises this important time in their lives. There are a number of ways to do that. You can give them a figurine that celebrates the purchase of their home. A frame could provide the ideal place for them to display a picture of their family in front of their new home to commemorate that moment. A welcome mat could provide an important accessory that will make their new house seem more like a home. Even small keepsakes can mean a huge amount to people trying to feel comfortable in a new home or community. Think in terms of something with a date on it to document the year they moved into their new home or anything celebrating a home or major life step.
Your neighbours might be somewhat familiar with your area before they buy a home there but they probably won’t know many details. You can make them feel more at home by providing a collection of important information they’ll need to know as a part of the community.
You can compile the addresses and contact information for the nearby schools, government offices, post offices, hospitals, and other vital services. Who they need to contact in case of a power outage or other problem would be useful in case of any problems in the future and save them having to spend the time searching online. Share information on trash and recycling collection schedules for your area and the nearly centres where they can drop off other unwanted items. List other important information like street cleaning or neighbourhood parking rules to save your new neighbours from having issues later. Putting utility and other emergency contact information in one place can assist those who might be moving into a new area.
The best way to bring your local area closer could be to host an area get-together. This can be a casual event hosted in your garden if weather permits or a cocktail party in cooler weather. This gives everyone in your community a chance to mix and mingle and get to know each other. If hosting that many people is intimidating, you can have everyone bring something to the event. That way the event won’t be as costly for you and each person will have a chance to contribute and share in making the event a success.
Hectic schedules and long commutes have made it more difficult to stay in touch with neighbours. Even with the best of intentions, you’ve made can drift away. One way around this is to connect through social media. You don’t need to limit your social media outreach to people you vaguely remember from primary school. At the same time, you might not want to share all your daily adventures and selfies with neighbours you hardly know. The solution is to set up a closed group on Facebook or elsewhere online and invite your neighbours to join. That can be a place for those of you who live on your street or surrounding area to stay in touch and get to know each other better. People can share information on what’s going on in the area as well as photographs and other personal information.
Another great way to reach out to neighbours is to invite them to become involved. That could mean letting them know about charities and community projects they could join to benefit the whole area. Social groups are another wonderful way to get them involved in the neighbourhood. Invitations to book groups, event planning committees, community gardens or art clubs can allow new neighbours to participate in activities while meeting other people in the community who share their interests. Building strong connections between neighbours can make community improvement projects easier while making the area a better place to live.
Another advantage to gathering your community together is a chance to provide mutual benefits. By providing information to new residents and creating social groups, you can not only give them more reasons to feel positive about your neighbourhood, you can help each other financially. Many people have local or home businesses and letting neighbours know about these businesses can help everyone. It can be a way to spread the world when new businesses are opening up or make potential customers aware of goods and services they might want or need. Building support for local businesses can even make your neighbourhood more desirable to live in which can result in stronger home prices and lower unemployment.
Your next neighbours might become your new best friends and you might form a friendship of a lifetime. More likely, that won’t happen. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to take the time to meet and greet your new neighbours. Reaching out can prevent problems or misunderstandings that might otherwise arise. Developing relationships can provide you with a whole street of people to look out for community problems, prevent crime, and keep an eye on each other’s children out in the common areas.
Remember, if you start out with moderate expectations about your new neighbours, you are more likely to be pleasantly surprised. It doesn’t take a significant time commitment to build a closer relationship with your neighbours but it does require a little bit of effort. If you are already friends with other people in your area, you can work together on a plan to greet new arrivals and provide resources to help them settle in. By dividing up responsibilities, you can reduce the amount of time it requires of each person. It can also allow you to meet with people with different schedules.
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