Hello, we are your (not new) neighbours…
September 23, 2022 10:52 AM   Subscribe

My spouse and I were chatting about this last night. We live in a neighbourhood in our city that used to be a very eclectic, multicultural neighbourhood. It still is to a large degree — but now it’s become increasingly trendy. While it’s somewhat nice to have new shops and restaurants — it’s quite unpleasant too with all the chains moving in, and the old places we love getting squeezed out year after year. That’s not the issue I am asking about though — it just sets the scene of where we live.

On our side of the street are newer houses (new in the last decade new — not new new) and on the other side are the more established houses of the street.

We don’t have a lot in common with the people in our little row of new-ish houses — yes, they are friendly and we chat — but they're mostly families with small kids. We are two women in middle age with no children.

Now across the street and along the street we have a nodding acquaintance with some other neighbours that seem like we’d have more in common with — and some others we never talk to at all — just see them when we are outside. We’d like to get to these other neighbours a bit better – not a lot better – but just to the “chatting and friendly” state we are with the others.

But the question is — how do we introduce ourselves to neighbours we have had for almost a decade. It feels weird and it might be too late.
posted by Lescha to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Help plan a block party, and invite them to help you set it up.
posted by pinochiette at 11:08 AM on September 23, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Get a cafe table, set it up out front, and have yourselves a mini-tea party just for yourselves. But bring extra cookies and napkins to offer to passers-by.

Or: start gardening out front. Probably people will stop and talk to you.
posted by amtho at 11:11 AM on September 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It’s not too late! Do a block party so everyone can get to know each other better. It can be low key, everyone outside at 7 on Thursday, etc. Hand deliver invitations to the houses you’re interested in with a note on the back—“would love to get to know you better!”.

Strong communities and neighborhoods are so important as resources and networks of mutual aid, too.
posted by stellaluna at 11:11 AM on September 23, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I think you're fairly thoroughly overthinking this particular plate of beans.

Just go over there and doorknock, and say something along the lines of "Hi. We've been living across the street from you for ten years and haven't exchanged a word. This is clearly ridiculous and can't go on. I'm Lescha. Pleased to meet you at last" and go from there. At some point you'd invite them over to yours for a cup of tea or whatever your local cultural equivalent is.

It will be weird for no more than five seconds if they're people you'd actually want to become chatty and friendly with.
posted by flabdablet at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2022 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I'm finding that the pandemic can be used as a great excuse for having been antisocial lately. Everybody's memory of how long it's been going on is a bit fuzzy.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:14 AM on September 23, 2022 [7 favorites]

I had a handful of conversations like this during the pandemic with folks who had been neighbors for ages. I wouldn't worry about old versus new houses. Have a neighborhood or block party and invite everyone on the street, by knocking on all the doors and handing out flyers.

If you don't want to do anything that big... Just starting making a point to make eye contact and say hello when you see folks. Maybe walk on both sides of the street.

And also, those parents with young kids might be particularly receptive to friendly overtures. Sometimes parents can feel isolated, and it's really nice knowing that loose, nearby connections, like neighbors, are friendly people.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:24 AM on September 23, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We're also coming up on Halloween which is a great pre-built excuse to be more public with your neighbors than you might otherwise be. Reverse-trick-or-treat is an easy pretext if you want one. Take over a little pumpkin shaped gift basket with some mulling spices, maple cookies, or whatever other autumnal vibey treats are most exciting to you.
posted by phunniemee at 11:48 AM on September 23, 2022 [8 favorites]

Nthing gardening out front/generally hanging out in the front yard.

Starting a little free library can help you meet neighbors nearer and farther. You can also use that paradigm with puzzles, artwork, plants, etc. You can drum up action for such a thing by posting it on local bulletin boards, or local FB/Craigslist/Nextdoor etc.

Along the lines of block party you might just knock on doors and try to start a block email list, bc lots of people aren't on those services but would like to know about block parties or missing pets or extra zucchini or whatever. Good luck!
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:15 PM on September 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

Next time you see them, ask some kind of question about some local thing ("Hi! 'Scuse me a second - you know that cafe that used to be on 4th Street? I heard they didn't just close, they moved. Have you heard where it moved to?"). Even if you have to ask about something you already knew, or make something up. It's a way to break the ice.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:54 AM on September 24, 2022

Best answer: If the kids trick-or-treat in your neighborhood, the Halloween pretext is great as a starter! Put out a little table on your lawn and offer a slightly nicer treat, like cups of hot cider or something, along with the standard candy. That's your foot in the door, so that people vaguely remember your face and house pleasantly. Then you can move on to a block party.
posted by praemunire at 10:03 AM on September 24, 2022

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