Getting to Know Your Neighbors This Summer

 Now more than ever, we all realize the importance of having a support network. Our lives can be enriched when we have regular, in-person interactions with our neighbors, whether it’s a chat over the fence or a friendly wave from the driveway. But how do you get to know your neighbors? 

Get Involved 

If you’re brand-new to the neighborhood or have lived there for a while, there are probably some unfamiliar faces on your block. It may seem simple to introduce yourself, but how do you find an opportunity to do so? 

Attend Neighborhood Activities 

If you get a flier on your door for a neighborhood BBQ, here’s your chance to break the ice. Or, maybe your children’s school is hosting a kick-off carnival or end-of-year party for kids and their families. These types of neighborhood activities are low-pressure ways to gather with others who live in your community. If nothing presents itself, you can be the one to organize the activity. It could be a casual pool party, a book club, or maybe a plant-swap group. Think of ways you can connect with people who have similar interests so you can avoid having awkward conversations with someone who has nothing in common with you. 

Frequent Communal Spaces in Your Neighborhood 

If you’re too nervous to host an activity to help you get to know your neighbors, consider simply frequenting the community areas in your neighborhood. It might be a playground, a dog park, a library, or just the grocery store. When you see a familiar face, be brave and say hello! If you find yourself bumping into some of the same people during school drop-off or while running errands, chances are you may have something in common. 

Neighborhood Social Media 

A lot of communities have social media accounts so residents can connect online. Meeting virtually can be easier for some people, so when you move into a new place, look into the following: 

● Neighborhood Facebook Page/Group - Private or public forums hosted in Facebook, usually monitored by one or more volunteers in the community. 

● Nextdoor app - A private social network for neighborhoods based on blocks. ● MyCoop - A platform for multi-unit building dwellers.

● Olio - An app that connects residents with local shops so surplus food items (i.e. harvests) don’t go to waste. 

● ioby - This is a crowdfunding platform so community members can come together to support change (i.e. neighborhood improvements). 

● Neighborland - This app is for connecting residents with city agencies, universities, and nonprofits to guide the development of the neighborhood. 

● Freecycle / Buy Nothing Project - This platform allows neighbors to give and get items for free. 

● Patch - Get local news via this app so you know what upcoming events are scheduled for your community. 

● EveryBlock - Like Patch, this app helps connect neighbors with current events, reviews of local businesses, and messages from neighbors. 

If you have a neighborhood Homeowner’s Association (HOA), you should enquire about any social media apps or pages that can help connect you with your neighbors. 

While social media is an excellent tool for initially interacting with neighbors, make sure you also get out and see each other in public when you can! There’s no substitute for chatting face-to-face with someone. 

Be a Friendly Presence 

There are also some old-school ways you can connect with your neighbors this summer. Try some of the following: 

● Leave snacks and drinks out for delivery people 

● Bring back the porch hang and stop to talk after work 

● Take walks and acknowledge neighbors along the way 

● Leave a note if you appreciate the beauty of someone’s yard, or notice they’ve done some work on their home 

● Stop at those lemonade stands with your kids to help them make friends 

Neighbor Gifts 

If all else fails, go the neighbor gift route! Whether for the holidays or just because, leaving a gift and a note on your neighbor’s doorstep is a great way to break the ice. 

● Leave your name, house number, and cell number if you’re comfortable ● Give flowers from your garden on May Day 

● Share surplus harvest from your veggie patch 

● Offer holiday-themed neighbor gifts such as baked goods, Dollar Tree items, or RedBox movie rental codes

Recreation Center 

Another low-pressure way to meet others in the community is to attend your local rec center. Chances are they not only offer exercise classes, but they have educational programs and sports leagues as well. Whether you befriend a fellow parent in the baseball bleachers or strike up a friendship with your opponent on the pickleball court, the rec center is another great way to connect with people who have similar interests. 

If you live in a planned community, or a multi-unit building with a fitness center or other similar amenities, be sure that when you make use of them you take a minute to introduce yourself to others doing the same. If your HOA fees pay for those public tennis courts, splash pads, or walking trails, get your money’s worth and use them! 

Benefits to Befriending Neighbors 

You know that old adage, “fences make good neighbors?” It comes from a Robert Frost poem entitled Mending Wall. While it’s true that sometimes fences come in handy when you don’t want to interact with your neighbors, other times you don’t want to wall them out. There are several benefits to befriending your neighbors, including the following: 

It Takes a Village to Raise a Family 

Remember the days of running through the neighborhood with your friends, staying out until the street lights came on? During the daylight hours, you’d ride bikes up and down the block, stopping at various houses for sandwiches, popsicles, and a cold drink of water. These days playdates are often a little more planned out, but it still goes back to kids and parents needing a village to help nurture them. 

So even if it’s difficult to get out of your comfort zone and say hello, think of the long-term benefits of doing so; you and your kids will have the opportunity to have life-long friends on your street. 

Neighborhood Safety 

Knowing a bit about your neighbors and their routines can help bring a level of safety to your community. If you have personal connections with the people you see each day, you’re more likely to notice if something is amiss. At the very least, you’ll feel more comfortable knocking on your neighbor’s door to let them know their garage was left open, or their dog got out of the yard. And in return, if you have a friendly relationship with your neighbors, you’ll have someone who can keep an eye on your house and check the mail when you go out of town. 

Someone to Call on for Help 

Along those same lines, it’s nice to have neighbors you can call for help. Even if it’s just organizing a carpool to get kids to and from school and other activities, it’s a relief not having to

do everything alone. Get to know your neighbors so if you have a medical emergency or need help moving furniture, you’ll have someone close by who can lend a hand.

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