So the movers have left you awash in a sea of boxes. What’s next?
Then, when you’re feeling settled inside, make your move outside by putting down new roots in the community. Here are tips for quickly becoming part of the neighborhood. Hint: Most tips include actually leaving your home and talking to new people.
Make the first move
In some places, neighbors will deliver a casserole before the moving vans leave. Oh, wait: That was in 1954. These days, everyone’s working, shuttling kids, maybe taking care of elderly parents. We just don’t have the bandwidth to think about new people in the neighborhood. So don’t wait for neighbors to make the first move. Knock on doors and introduce yourself. Have a house warming and invite the block.
The more open you appear and act, the more likely you are to meet new people. Sip lemonade on your porch in the evening instead of binge watching Netflix inside your home. Say hi to folks who are walking their dogs or taking an after-dinner stroll. Have a ready question that will start them talking, like, “I’m new to the area. Where’s the best dry cleaners?” Or “is there a dog park nearby?” Any subject that lets neighbors know you’re a new kid on the block and looking to engage with them.
The best way to feel part of a neighborhood is to go where other locals go. Scout out the popular markets, pharmacies, coffee bars, burger joints and bakeries. Stop at neighborhood bars after work and sit at the bar where you’re more likely to strike up a conversation. Introduce yourself and get to know proprietors and cashiers. It’s much nicer to enter a store and hear, “Hello, Sarah!” rather than, “Can I help you, ma’am?”
As soon as you unpack the last box, become a member of community and neighborhood groups, either in person or online. It’s a great way to meet people and become involved in issues that matter to the entire area. If your neighborhood has a listserv or social network, sign up. These online chat areas are great resources for everything from pediatricians to plumbers.
Join a house of worship
No matter what your spiritual path is, houses of worship aren’t only about God. They help build communities that care and support each other. You can establish a friendship network by attending services, suppers, lectures and charitable activities the group sponsors.
Volunteering warms your heart, helps others, and creates friendships. If you have school-age children, volunteering to help at school is a quick way to connect with other parents. Or pick a cause that you care about: work for a candidate, stock a food bank, read stories to school kids, even hold babies in hospitals. Each activity will give you purpose, provide a valuable service, and help meet people with similar interests and hearts.
And don’t forget to…
• Contact your college alumni groups and connect with former classmates in your new area.
• Visit local parks and rec centers to help you and your family meet new friends.
• Frequent your local library, where you’ll be surrounded by other readers.