Moving is among the most stressful events for a family. It’s a time when people could really use the support of a friend — right as they’re being plucked from their familiar social circles. Adding to the isolation, neighbors in their new communities often are unsure how to welcome recent additions.
Whether you’re the newcomer or greeting one, there are steps you can take to make a great first impression on Day One and beyond.
Meet your neighbors
The lowest-effort option is to be visible in your new neighborhood. Take walks, spend time in your yard, and check out communal spaces. Also visit parks, libraries, coffee shops, stores, restaurants and bars, gyms, and the farmers market to get a beat on the community. Volunteering, subscribing to the local newspaper, and attending city council or neighborhood association meetings can bring you up to speed on issues affecting the area, too.
Now is the time to chat up your neighbors, ask questions, and seek recommendations or referrals — just pay attention to the responses. People are usually eager to welcome people to the neighborhood, offer tips, and promise future get-togethers. If you’re interested and available, don’t turn down invitations. There’s no pressure to accept all offers of assistance or friendship, but do be gracious. And when you can’t make time to talk, offer a wave or smile to those you haven’t connected with yet.
Plan a party
Kids are excellent conversation starters. Local parks are practically made for parents to bump into each other and swap information, especially if they have kids of similar ages or at the same school. Once you’ve identified some families in the area, invite them and other families they know to your house to get to know each other. This is especially helpful if your children have transferred to a new school with the move.
No one expects a housewarming party, especially not the moment you move in. If you do throw one, feel free to keep it casual. Ask neighbors — and friends from your old neighborhood, too — to drop by during a weekend afternoon. Avoid serving anything beyond a few snacks (nothing that requires more than a cocktail plate) or make it a potluck, with everyone bringing something to share. Invite as many people as you’re comfortable having in your home, but don’t be exclusive. If your place is on the small side or simply not ready for guests, plan a happy hour at a nearby bar or restaurant. You may find a go-to watering hole.
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t all come together at once. It takes time to know your new surroundings and feel out your social circle. Browse meetup.com to find groups in your area with similar interests and events. Friends of friends are great leads, too. Ask around your circle to see if anyone has contacts in your new neighborhood.
Noticing new neighbors moving in can be confusing: How do you welcome them? What do you say? Should you bring something? When is it a good time? Generally speaking, any kind gesture will be appreciated. As long as you avoid times around meals and commutes, it’s OK to stop by and strike up a conversation with your new neighbors.
Recent arrivals will want to meet you and get your perspective on the neighborhood. It’s nice to give referrals or recommendations, but keep gossip out of it and remain positive about the area (they just moved in, after all). Housewarming gifts aren’t necessary, but a small plant, snack, or stack of takeout menus from nearby restaurants are thoughtful offerings.
Once you’ve made contact, bring other neighbors on board. Connect your new acquaintance with others in your circle and include them in your regular social gatherings, if they’re interested. Hosting a low-key barbecue or cocktail party with all the neighbors can be a fun, effective way for everyone to mingle and meet each other.
Terrie Cox is RE/MAX’s top individual agent in the Pacific Northwest and among the nation’s top 10 Certified Relocation Professionals. She’s an expert at helping families find and settle into their new homes and neighborhoods. To start your move on the right foot, call or text Terrie directly at (360) 607-4100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.