I’ve had the experience of living in a place where I was friends with all of my neighbors. I’ve also experienced living in a place where I never once said a word to the people next door. It’s probably not surprising that in the former situation, I felt more settled, comfortable, and safe. Having a friend (or at least a friendly face) nearby goes a long way toward establishing feelings of home and community, especially when you move to a new city or neighborhood.
So why would you want to perfect the “art of neighboring?” Besides the fact that it just makes life more fun, statistics show that it also helps cut back on crime and boosts community morale. It also makes it much easier to discuss any issues that might arise with your property, or to get that cup of sugar when you’re halfway through making cookies and realize you’ve run out.
Knowing the people in your neighborhood goes a long way when something important – or tragic – happens, too. Far too often, natural disasters are the things that actually bring neighbors together. Don’t wait for something awful to happen to know who’s living next door.
Whether you’re trying to meet your neighbors for the first time or just want to get to know them better, remember to lead with authenticity over forced conversation. You don’t have to show up at someone’s door with a Jello mold, but do try to organically establish a friendly rapport that you can build upon as time goes on. As you form relationships, you might be surprised with what you have in common – or what you can learn from each other’s differences. You may not end up actually wanting to spend much time with your neighbors, and that’s OK too.
The important thing is that you actually know each other and feel like you can count on one another in times of need. Not quite sure how to do that? Read on for six ways you can get to know your neighbors and strengthen those next-door relationships you may already have going.
Invite them over for dinner.
It doesn’t have to be anything formal — casual and fun is always best to break the ice. The next time you’re having a few friends over, just walk over and say, “We’re throwing some burgers on the grill tonight. Do you want to join us?” It will feel good to know they were included and even if they only stop by for an hour, it will go a long way to strengthening your relationship overtime.
Still working on your grilling skills? Here are some secrets we swear by, along with a few easy things to throw on the grill this summer.
Bake a special treat.
Whipping up something for a holiday or birthday? Double the recipe and make some for your neighbors next time, too. Quick breads, cookies, cupcakes are a sure way to win anyone over.
Here are some of our favorite recipes that also make the perfect baked gift for friends and family.
Throw a neighborhood block party.
This requires some planning and coordination, but if you get some other neighborhood friends involved, it’s totally worth it. Have everyone bring a dish to share, fill a cooler of cold drinks, rent a bounce house, set up lawn games for all the kids to play with each other, or get some friendly competition going with one of our favorite games for game night.
Bringing everyone together at once is an easy and fun way to get people out of their comfort zones and chatting. And if you really want to make it a party, whip up some of these easy cocktails for everyone to enjoy!
Ask for help.
People like to help and be needed, so the next time you’re leaving town ask your neighbors to pick up your newspaper, grab your mail/packages from your doorstep, or water your outdoor plants –and let them know you will reciprocate. Your neighbors will appreciate that you trust them to take care of things while you’re gone, and that you’re also there for them in return.
Host a ladies night.
Your back patio. A few bottles of wine. The ladies from your block. Get on it.
As you get to know your neighbors better, don’t forget to listen for important milestones that may be approaching. Did someone mention they have a birthday coming up? Remember it, and walk over and tell them Happy Birthday when the day comes — or better yet, bake them cookies! Is someone pregnant? Found out when the baby is coming, and bring them a meal. Remember: it’s the little things that matter most when it comes to being a thoughtful neighbor.
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