As a child, you may have watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In every episode he sang an adorable song about being good neighbors with the people he meets:
I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
But as an adult, you may wish that meeting your new neighbors after a move were just as easy as in the show. You smile and wave to those in your community, but you feel a little shy or embarrassed. On your more adventurous days, you even strike up a friendly conversation, but you never quite make it beyond small talk about the weather.
So what can you do to meet your neighbors and dispel that initial awkwardness?
1. Throw a Block (or Street) Party
Block parties bring multiple families together for good food, music, and fun. To start, acquire the necessary permits to host a party, and decide on appropriate parking for a large crowd. Then, hand out fliers announcing the event, and ask your neighbors whether they’d like to participate in the planning process.
Once you have a few helping hands, you can designate which families should bring food, which couples can help set up the tables or take away the trash, and which parents should plan the activities. As you work (and later party) together, you’ll learn more about your neighbors.
2. Borrow a Cup of Sugar
Block parties can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you still have a few boxes to unpack from your move. If you prefer a more one-on-one scenario, why not borrow a cup of sugar, a hammer, or a light bulb?
Though the situation may seem a bit cliché©, you should feel comfortable asking your neighbors for a little help. They’ll remember your face (to make sure you return the object later), and you won’t have to make a last-minute shopping trip.
Worried that you might ask for something your neighbors don’t have? Websites like Streetbank will let you see which neighbors want to share which items. And you can give back to your neighborhood by listing things you have available to share.
3. Join a Local Group
Ready to meet multiple neighbors at once but don’t want to organize an event yourself? Your neighborhood or community likely has a few well-established groups you could join.
For example, if you enjoy jogging or running, your area might have a running club that meets every morning at 7 before work. Or if you prefer to read, you may find an open book club at your nearest library.
When you join a local group, you may find that you already share several common interests, which you can then use as a springboard for future conversations.
4. Bake Some Cookies
Remember that cup of sugar you borrowed? You can return the favor by bringing your neighbors a plate of homemade baked goods. Whether you make a mean plate of chocolate chip cookies or you excel at double-chocolate fudge brownies, your neighbors will likely appreciate your gesture of goodwill.
As an extra precaution, however, you may want to tell them some of the key ingredients, or write the recipe on a card, to make sure they won’t have an allergic reaction to your special treat.
And Don’t Forget: Be Friendly
While the above activities can create the perfect opportunity to meet new people, they won’t guarantee that you’ll immediately become one with the community. You’ll want to give yourself (and your neighbors) plenty of time to adjust and learn new names.
But with time, patience, and some Mister Rogers’ friendliness, every day will be a “beautiful day for a neighbor.”