September 28, 2011 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Best way to get to know your new neighbors? We are buying a home and want to build a good relationship with our new neighbors. What are your recommendations for introducing yourselves without coming off as pushy? We believe that knowing your neighbors helps for a good community, but we don't want to seem over the top. Cookies? Muffins? Knock on the door and say hi? What has been successful for you?

We have a dog we can walk, but he is still too crazy to just walk up to someone without bowling them over with kisses- and I doubt I will make a good impression as I discipline my dog to behave (forcing him to sit and focusing on his manners while neglecting my own).
We are not the party type, so throwing a block party is out.
Looking for one on one interaction ideas...
posted by MayNicholas to Human Relations (28 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Be outside your house, a lot. Mow the lawn, pull weeds, sit in your driveway drinking a beer. Say hi to everyone that walks by, wave to people driving by. If you see a neighbor also outside doing something, stop and say hi.

If you've got a pet that jumps all over folks, keep the pet inside for a while.

That's how I met my neighbors, and when someone moves in, I look for when they are outside to go over and introduce myself. ("Hi, I'm k5.user, I live in the house over there, nice to meet you!" etc)
posted by k5.user at 10:43 AM on September 28, 2011 [11 favorites]

Scrape and repaint the windowsills outside. You will be seen improving your house right off so your status as a responsible homeowner will be established straight off. Plus, since it will take you hours, your neighbors will approach you and you can chat with them about neighborhood-relevant stuff (How reliable is the mail delivery? How often is trash pickup? Can you mix plastics and paper in the recycling?) without coming off all HI NEIGHBOR I'M THE FRIENDLY NEW ADDITION like you fear. Bonus: you will know by the end of the afternoon who the neighborhood busybody is. Disclose accordingly.
posted by 8dot3 at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't know if you have a porch. We don't, however we re-landscaped our front yard to let us put a small table and chairs out there, and we eat dinner outside in front of the house. This lets us say "hi" to all the people walking by.

We've tried to do something simple for the holidays every year, make truffles, one year it was green tomato relish 'cause the frosts came before our tomatoes ripened, and hand that out. Usually we end up delivering one or two a night because we'll knock on a door, and get invited in and end up talking for a while.

And just making an effort to say "hi" to everyone we see. This has been a huge challenge for me, because I suck with names, but a wave and a "Hi, X" when I see people has done wonders for not only getting people talking to us, but now people seem to be talking to each other more.
posted by straw at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

In addition to catching them while outside, write down their names the second you get inside - it's great when you can remember names.
posted by ldthomps at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

My recommendations are pretty much the same as K5, but what I have done is BE neighborly. I'll shovel snow past my own sidewalk, time permitting. Same with raking leaves. Cutting the neighbor's grass for them is a bit more iffy because some people like it done a certain way.

But say hello and offer a hand if folks are carrying something heavy. Dog owners always know the most neighbors just from interacting on walks. We got to know tons of folks thru our friendly neighbor that had two dog and seemed to know everyone within a half mile radius. We moved in at the same time and I did a kind of undercover study of dog owners vs non-dog-owners integration into the community. We did better later when we had kids in school, the other big get-to-know-everybody deal.
posted by readery at 10:52 AM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, in addition to ldthomps's suggestion of writing down their names as soon as you go inside: Print out a birds-eye view of the houses on your block from Google Maps Satellite view and put their names and addresses on that.
posted by 8dot3 at 10:55 AM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are neighborhood associations a thing where you live? Not HOAs, but just a group of folks that live in your neighborhood and participate in community activities? If so, get on the email list for it and you'll hear about all kinds of opportunities to meet your neighbors.
posted by CheeseLouise at 11:03 AM on September 28, 2011

Yes, be outside. Improve your property. Say hello as people walk by.

Walk around the neighborhood. When you see someone outside, compliment them on something. "We love your garden", "Nice dog", "Gee, that sure is a fine collection of empty beer cans on your porch", that sort of thing. Some folks will make it clear they're not the neighborly type, and that's fine. Just move on and work on them over time. Other folks will start chatting a bit, that's when you find a moment to extend your hand, introduce yourself, and tell them you just moved in. Most folks love to meet new neighbors.

Also, if your town has property information on-line, you might be able to get a list of all the folks on your street. Print this out and keep it in your house somewhere where people won't stumble across it. This is not for stalking purposes, but just so when you meet "Bob" from two houses down, you can match him up to a last name.

Mostly just be outside a lot and be willing to chat with people.

Also, if you're new to town, start attending community events. This is a good way to get to know other people in town, not just in your immediate neighborhood.
posted by bondcliff at 11:06 AM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I walk over and say hi when I see people outside. You'll get an idea of whether people are the friendly-chat type or not. And neighbors who aren't friendly-chat types may still be terrific neighbors, they may just keep to themselves more. I like asking people questions, not interrogating them, but just stuff I've been wondering about the nighborhood instead of looking it all up on Google. Where's the best place to buy a pumpkin, where's a good place to go swimming, who do you get your car inspected by, who is good at pet sitting, that sort of thing.

And also, about the dog. I am a sort of twitchy quiet person and if I saw you had a dog I'd be delighted that you were paying attention to your dog's manners [assuming it didn't make you look like an aggro jerk] because it's one of the many ways to be mindful of other people. When the new people here told us they were worried their dog might bark too much, I took it as a way to open a conversation [in that "please be sure to tell us if he does" sort of way that put my mind at ease]. Some neighbors may be looking forward to neat new people moving in, some may also just want to make sure you don't fuck the place up [whatever that means, and it's so variable] so try to suss that sort of thing out. And yeah, holiday snack-giving is always a win, as is doing something fun for Halloween especially if your nieghborhood has that sort of tradition.
posted by jessamyn at 11:22 AM on September 28, 2011

My new neighbours baked us bread a few days after they moved in, it was fantastic and they are now cemented in my mind as the best neighbours ever (even though I was irritated with them at first because they were loud the first two nights).
posted by Acer_saccharum at 11:30 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the great ideas so far!

Jessamyn- Glad to hear someone approve of someone trying to train their dog because I am pretty self conscious trying to talk to people while forcing my dog in to the sit position, giving him treats for chilling, getting him to sit again, telling him to stay down, & trying to carry on a conversation and be polite all at the same time. :)
posted by MayNicholas at 11:34 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Smile at everyone. Make eye contact, but allow them to broach the conversation. Be available for when they're ready.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:39 AM on September 28, 2011

Just agreeing with the idea of being outside a lot. And definitely write down names unless you are a natural at memorizing them. Day 1 of people talking to me I drew a rough map of my street and filled in names as I got them.
posted by mikepop at 11:44 AM on September 28, 2011

I moved into a possibly sketchy neighborhood. I needed to know that my neighbors were good people, not drug dealers. I simply went from house to house introducing myself. I let them know I was purchasing the house down the street and just wanted to meet my neighbors. I also had the chance to ask them about specifics of the neighborhood.

Everyone was awesome.

Just go and knock. No reason to not be direct.
posted by Vaike at 11:51 AM on September 28, 2011

Yep, I knocked on the door of all my neighbors' homes and introduced myself. I live in a new neighborhood so I had actually moved into my home before they did. I brought some of them a plate of homemade cookies. I also made sure to remember their names! This was 7 years ago now, and to this day my neighbors always look out for me, I pet sit their pets, I hang out with some of them, they've had me over for dinners and parties and vice versa. I live on a cul-de-sac and about five houses all in a row at the end of the roundabout know eachother and talk to eachother frequently. It's so nice to have friendly neighbors! Good luck!
posted by Falwless at 12:06 PM on September 28, 2011

Rather than a block party, would you consider an open house? Leave a note in people's mailboxes indicating that you're doing an at home day one sunday for a few hours (long enough that they'll realize it's a drop in when you have time thing, not an all day commitment), rustle up tea and snacks that can sit out all day and see who comes by. The more you meet people on the street and invite them, too, the more likely they are to come.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:17 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't wander into their backyard every time you see them doing yard work and start talking for half an hour about your kids' sports teams or what the doctor said about their mole. I have one neighbor who does this and it's exceptionally annoying. He's a nice guy but he just can't stop talking. Also, just because there's no fence doesn't make my backyard public property.

In general I have great neighbors, but this one guy can overdo it.

Talking to people as you walk past their house or they walk past yours, or they drive up and are unloading their car next door, these things are all pretty well-accepted as being friendly without being creepy. Also, stopping by each house individually and introducing yourself as new in the neighborhood and possibly inviting people over for a housewarming party or something I think would go over just fine. I would do the invitations in person if I were going to do that, though, rather than just leaving a note. Just don't overstay your welcome on the front porch.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:13 PM on September 28, 2011

I met all my immediate neighbors, the mailman, and the UPS delivery guy in one afternoon of weeding the front yard. I'd stake out a spot and just wait and wave to everyone. They'll all be curious about you anyway and you're just giving them an in.

Meeting the mailman is really key since often they've had the same route for years and can tell you everything you want to know about your new block and neighborhood.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:36 PM on September 28, 2011

Couple of my friends do Halloween by sitting on their front lawn in costume, with beer and/or wine, and handing out candy. Usually a couple of their childless neighbors end up joining them. They get to say hi to everyone with kids in a six-block radius, hassle lame costumeless teenagers, and have some social time with the ones who hang out. It's great fun.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:39 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Before we moved in, we asked the folks who sold us the house about the neighbors. I found out that he had some dispute with one next door neighbor about parking some 7 years before and had not spoken to them since. I also found out the lady taught at the local middle school. So, when we moved in I knew there may be an issue and first, did not park where it would annoy them and 2nd that if I just had a conversation with them once it would be a step up from the previous guy.

Also, I had little kids when I first moved in. We had them play in the front yard a lot waiting for the bus or the mailman or the nice lady with the big dog or whatever. Met all my other neighbors that way. Got invited to a progressive dinner party. Each neighbor either hosted one course or brought something to the house that was hosting a course. Met and became decent friends with six families that had been doing it for two years 3 times a year.

The guy across the street and over one is just an older guy who does not talk much, but about 6 months after we moved in, I saw him trying to break up ice on his driveway as his car was sliding and having a difficult time getting up a small incline. Without saying a thing I went over with a few tools and started helping him. He still doesn't talk much, but he waves to me and my kids everytime he sees us.

Also, we asked one of the older boys (13) at the time to help teach my two boys 4 and 5 to play lacrosse and hold a stick. We paid him essentially for babysitting/giving lessons. My kids loved it, so did he and my kids got good at lax. He went on to get a Division I scholarship to Georgetown so all good there too. Use local kids as baby sitters, house sitters, get my mail and paper when we go away sitters.

I guess if you want to have good neighbors, be a good neighbor.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:05 PM on September 28, 2011

Like Tom Sawyer, paint your fence (or porch or whatever). People will stop by and tell you how you SHOULD be doing it. There you go.
posted by andreap at 2:17 PM on September 28, 2011

Just go up and simply introduce yourself. Also, when you see them out... acknowledge their presence.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 2:46 PM on September 28, 2011

Go say Hi. Ask them about the neighborhood, like where's the best Chinese food. People love to give advice. And all the Be a good neighbor suggestions are terrific.
posted by theora55 at 4:35 PM on September 28, 2011

Also, don't take it personally if a neighbor doesn't seem friendly.
I have yet to speak more than a sentence to any of my dozens of neighbors since adulthood.
And to be honest, I kinda avoid them.
I'm a good quiet neighbor that happens to have social anxiety plus I'm just plain introverted.
posted by KogeLiz at 5:29 PM on September 28, 2011

I got my neighborhood "membership" by making myself helpful to a neighbor with a disability (he's old; just doesn't get around well). It was enormously helpful in getting me accepted in an area where I am distinctly in the racial minority.
posted by Ys at 6:27 PM on September 28, 2011

I would never knock on multiple doors to introduce myself as the new neighbour - I'd just wave and walk over and say hello each time I saw someone new. You might have a better chance of remembering names if you pace yourself.

Also, side note, I agree that it's fine to discipline your dog in front of others during a conversation. I am a non-dog owner and kind of nervous around dogs and would prefer a dog owner halt a conversation to attend to boisterous dog behaviour rather than letting the behaviour continue.

I wouldn't expect you to carry on a conversation with me while speaking to the dog and I'd actually be content to quietly watch the training as it would be a novelty to me. I know that's not your question, but I thought I'd give my two cents anyway to ease your mind, perhaps.
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:28 PM on September 28, 2011

Terrific suggestions! I really hope we have good neighbours. We will make every effort to be good neighbours ourselves. This is exciting!
posted by MayNicholas at 4:59 AM on September 29, 2011

As far as my neighbors go, I keep to myself and don't even know the names of some of them after years of living here in the same building with them, and I've never been in any of their homes, but I always say good morning or good evening, hold the door for them, and help them carry things upstairs. That even goes for the people everyone else in the building detests (because she's an insane complainer on clattering wooden heels, he's a large and loud stomping fool, and they have one of those hideous yapping yorkies). We all know one another as much as we need to, and we are on solidly neighborly terms. You don't need to be friends to be good neighbors.
posted by pracowity at 10:16 AM on September 29, 2011

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