Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, here’s how to make your new community feel like home.
Moving to a new neighborhood is tough, and it gets harder when the move includes relocating to a new city or neighborhood. Finding your sense of place within a new-to-you community is not always straightforward. Meeting people in your neighborhood can be a bit intimidating, but it’s the most direct route to make a new community feel like your home.
Simple Tips for Becoming a Part of the Neighborhood
Make the first move.
Sure, it can feel daunting to approach a new next-door neighbor and introduce yourself, but they may be equally hesitant to disturb your family, particularly if you seem busy moving boxes and unpacking. So take the initiative and look for an opportunity when the neighbors don’t look rushed or preoccupied either. A wave or hello can open the door without being intrusive, and a simple question about the trash pickup schedule on the block or what local grocery store someone recommends is an easy conversation starter.
Make yourself approachable.
Likewise, create chances for others to welcome you. Sit on the front porch. Take leisurely walks. Or perhaps just focus on being approachable—slow down the usual mad dash to your car every morning and tone down the grumpy expression upon returning from work.
The same rule applies when you’re out and about in the community. At the local diner, pick a bar seat instead of a corner table; there’s something about communal seating that encourages conversation. Take the kids to a nearby playground or park—and don’t keep your face in your phone. Make eye contact, smile, and say hello.
Check out the local hangouts.
Do as the locals do and frequent a local restaurant, farmers market, or shop. Got a dog? Even better. Dog parks practically require you and your pet to make new friends. Soon enough, one of these local hangouts will become a place where at least a few people know your name.
There’s no better way to meet like-minded people than by participating in activities that are meaningful to you. Finding the right fit may just require a little digging. Check with local schools and universities, park districts, recreation commissions, sports organizations, and—perhaps the greatest reference of all—neighbors and fellow parents. Donating your time to community organizations the improve the neighborhood by cleaning up trash, helping other residents, or clearing park trails will help you meet people and get to know the neighborhood.
Parents, of course, have many ready-made outlets for making new friends, like volunteering at the school, getting involved in carpools, and hosting play dates or a Halloween party for the kids on the block.
Use your network.
Take advantage of organized programs that can help you meet others in your new community. If you were active in a church or place of worship in your previous home, ask for a referral to a similar establishment. Many employers offer programs that connect newly relocated workers with longtime residents.
Most colleges and universities also have local alumni chapters. And don’t forget to mine your online networks. Ask Facebook friends if they know anyone in your new town, or search sites like Meetup.com to find others with similar interests. With a little time, you’ll find that community is wherever you make it.
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