Settling into a new home involves much more than just arranging your furniture and enrolling your children in different schools. It’s about getting to a point where you feel truly comfortable in your new home and, in order for that to happen, it’s crucial to connect with members of the community and your neighbors.
While the idea of trying to establish yourself in entirely new place can seem downright daunting – or even anxiety-producing – it’s actually easier than you might think. We’ve taken the time to outline four fool-proof strategies to help you familiarize yourself with your new community. Even if you only put effort into one or two of our suggestions, they should help you feel at home in no time at all.
Research the neighborhood
Fortunately, you can start the adjustment process before you even move in. As you shop for your new home, take the time to tour the neighborhood and make sure it’s a good fit for you. For example, if you’re moving with family, you might look for signs like toys lying around or a bike in the driveway. Similarly, if you’re an animal lover, you may want to look for neighborhoods where people are out and about walking their dogs.
You may also want to use this tactic to observe neighborhood routines. Ask yourself: Do the neighbors seem to enjoy being outside or is everyone inside? Are they night owls or do they seem to turn in early? This can give you a clearer indication of whether you’ll fit in well in a neighborhood or if you should look for somewhere that’s a better match for your current habits.
Start conversations with your neighbors
We get it. Putting yourself out there can be tough. However, once you move, you’ll feel at home a lot faster if you start making a connection with some of your neighbors. We’re not suggesting you go door-to-door looking for a welcome wagon, but taking the initiative to start a conversation can go a long way towards forming new friendships.
Simply waving hello is an unobtrusive way to start. If you want to take things a step further, take a second to introduce yourself and admit that you’re new in the area. If you feel comfortable, try asking about neighborhood affairs like trash collection schedules or recommendations for a good grocery store that is local. You’d be surprised how often people are willing to help the new kid.
Even better, try and find an interest that both of you have in common such as children, pets or a passion for gardening. Topics like these often help conversation flow more easily and allow both of you to open up and establish a connection. Just remember to keep up the comradery after your initial meeting. Building lasting relationships is all about consistency.
There isn’t a better way to meet like-minded neighbors than by participating in meaningful activities. Finding something that will fit you right might only require a little digging. You can check out local universities and schools, sports organizations, recreation commissions, park districts and more to find something that piques your interest. Who knows, you may even find great references from fellow parents and neighbors.
Donating time to your community to improve your new neighborhood can also help get you out and about. Consider volunteering for things like clearing the park trails, cleaning the trash up or assisting other residents. Activities like these can allow you to meet more people, as well as letting you have a hand in bettering your neighborhood.
Whichever activities you choose, it’s important to ensure you are approachable. Make sure you create the chance for neighbors to welcome you. Be open, be friendly and, most of all, be authentic. Activities like the ones above are all about teamwork. If you make an effort here, you’ll undoubtedly find a like-minded community.
Explore the local haunts
When you’re new, one of the best things you can do is find the places the locals like to frequently visit. These can include shops, restaurants, a movie theater or even a farmer’s market. If you have a dog, you can also look for parks where you and your pet can hang out and meet other dog lovers in the new neighborhood.
Then, obviously, try to spend as much time there as possible. The goal is to eventually become a familiar face.
Have you moved recently? How was settling into your new neighborhood? Let us know in the comments below.