Being a New NeighborFilter
June 10, 2005 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good way to get in good with my new neighbors?

I'm about to sign my name to a lease on a brand new apartment in an area where I dont really know anyone (Queens, NYC).

I'm planning on having a housewarming fiesta to which they will be invited (I'm leaving the door open and posting signs), but is there anything in particular you would suggest to let them know that I'm not a psycho and that they should feel free to pop in for tea?

What would make you say "Hey thats pretty cool of him" when you have a new neighbor in your building?
posted by softlord to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Do you know, someone asked a question like this in the New York Times Real Estate section a Sunday or two ago, and the answer surprised me- the author said it's a bad idea to become friends with your neighbors (specifically in New York City). I just looked, but I can't find it on does anyone know where I can find it?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:05 PM on June 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

Never mind- I found it! It was in the Post, not the Times. (registration required)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:08 PM on June 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

For ThePinkSuperhero's link, use
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posted by Coffeemate at 5:22 PM on June 10, 2005

Wow, that's a sad story in the Post.

When I moved to a Chicago brownstone apartment in 1991, I didn't know a soul. So I passed out flyers to the neighbors and asked them if they would like to join me for happy hour at my place. Six out of seven took me up on it (and the seventh had to work, but dropped by for 5 minutes). This started 7 happy years of multi-unit keg and dinner parties, attendance at five weddings, a pub crawl, Sunday nights spent on the front "stoop" with wine and candles, lots of reciprocal housesitting, and general fun and friendship. 421 West Belden was the place to be from 1991 to 1997...some of the best memories of my life. I wouldn't have traded the experience for the world.

posted by jeanmari at 5:23 PM on June 10, 2005

Gotta say... New Yorkers don't do neighbours. We make appointments before calling on friends. Actually, come to think of it we don't call on friends. We meet them somewhere.
posted by Decani at 6:04 PM on June 10, 2005

Response by poster: Well I'm not exactly looking to meet lifepartners, but being able to know someones name when i'm stuck with them on the elevator would be nice.
posted by softlord at 6:21 PM on June 10, 2005

Best answer: It is good to become friends with your neighbors, although it may not happen right away. Invite them over, be nice, don't be judgemental, at least at first, over their stuff, etc. You already know how to make friends, just take a bit more care here because you are sort of stuck with them for the time being.
posted by caddis at 6:22 PM on June 10, 2005

Response by poster: Er also for the record, I'm a New Yorker for 26 years, just moving to a new area.
posted by softlord at 6:32 PM on June 10, 2005

Ethnographic research suggests people are reluctant to kill those they've shared food with. Shared food usually includes gathered, not higher-protein hunted foods. It's expensive, but give your neighbors steaks.
posted by orthogonality at 6:37 PM on June 10, 2005

Check out
posted by Otis at 7:08 PM on June 10, 2005

I think the "everyone all at once" idea is good, and you should try it, but I wouldn't assume that that's the way you're really going to integrate yourself into the neighborhood over time. We've lived in several different neighborhoods, and had great friendships in all of them, but it's basically always started as relationships that clicked "one on one" (or "family on family"), and then expanded into neighborhood-wide relationships pretty quickly after that.

The "Self-Welcome Wagon" thing is a great idea--just be prepared to probably identify a couple of folks at that first bash who you really click with, and focus on building friendships with them after that. If any of them are already socially integrated into the group, then they're really the best route to weave yourself into the larger whole, since they can basically vouch for you with the people they already know (and steer you away from the jerks).
posted by LairBob at 7:44 PM on June 10, 2005

One possible downside to a bash (as opposed to getting to know them one on one) is that if two of your neighbors really, really hate each other, its possible that:

a) no one will come, for fear the other will be there
b) both will come, and a fistfight will break out
c) one will come and one will not, but since you've now socialized with the "will" the "will not" will think that you're now on the other person's "side".

I'd scope out the interpersonal lay of the land a bit more before I invited a bunch of strangers into my home all at once.
posted by anastasiav at 6:43 AM on June 11, 2005

I was going to echo Decani's "New Yorkers don't do neighbours" but then you said you'd been a New Yorker for 26 years, and I was only one for 22, so who am I to tell you? But you must have been living in an exceptionally sociable area; during all the time I lived in Queens, I only got to know the people who lived above me in my first apartment. The people next door? They might as well have been in Brooklyn. And frankly, I would have felt a bit weirded out if someone had moved in next door and wanted to "get to know you" -- what, are you going to try to convert me, or sell me something? Not saying it's a bad idea, just giving you a data point.
posted by languagehat at 6:52 AM on June 11, 2005

Get a Dog. After 13 years living in our current apartment in suddenly trendy Hell's Kitchen NYC we knew nary a soul outside of our building. We got a dog a few months ago and now we know a ton of people in the neighborhood, and not just fellow Dog People.

Aside from the social aspect I find that walking the dog has forced me to slow down and observe the things around me. Suddenly I find myself really looking closely at things I've never entire buildings!

Now we're in the process of buying a house in New Jersey. As Manhattanites we'll likely be labeled as pariahs and colonists, no matter how cute our dog is. It's not like we really want to get to know those Bridge & Tunnel types anyhow. Oy, this is going to take some adjusting to!
posted by HK10036 at 9:26 AM on June 11, 2005

In addition to the previously-linked you might also try
posted by revgeorge at 1:48 PM on June 11, 2005

I made pies for my new neighbors in my SE Portland, OR neighborhood.

Mixed results.

A few very grateful/pleased, and one who was clearly waiting for me to leave so she could drop the obviously poisonous, knockout-drop-filled trap disguised as a pecan pie in the trash and buy an extra deadbolt.
posted by mph at 7:46 PM on June 11, 2005

Man, for a fresh-baked pecan pie I think I woulda risked the knockout-drops. Where were you when I lived in S.E. Portland?
posted by blueberry at 2:44 AM on June 12, 2005

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