It can be hard to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Here are 10 tips to help.
David AndersSenior Writer
David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
ExpertiseBroadband providers, Home internet, Security Cameras
Moving into a new home comes with many exciting opportunities and stresses alike. From DIY projects and repairs to getting settled into a new school system, there's so many tasks to balance right when you move in -- including meeting and potentially becoming friends with your new neighbors.
Introducing yourself and making friends in a new neighborhood can be a challenge for homebodies and social butterflies alike. It can be daunting to put yourself out there with a new group of people. Luckily, there's a few tried and true tips for making a good first impression and laying the foundation for a future friendship. Here are 10 tips to help you settle in and start building your network.
1. Answer the doorbell and don't hesitate to ring some
You're almost to the bottom of what feels like the 70th box labeled "Kitchen" (and only 15 more to go!) when the doorbell rings. It's too early to be the pizza you ordered, and no one is officially invited over until the guest bathroom is presentable, which means it could only be one thing: neighbors. Don't panic, collect yourself and answer the door. It's customary for next door neighbors to call on you within the first week or so and it may give a negative impression if you ignore their efforts.
A pleasant porch chat is perfectly acceptable, but if you are up to it, feel free to invite your neighborly guests inside for water -- they did, after all, just walk all the way over. Either way, you and your neighbors will likely want to keep the conversation short (there will be plenty of time to get to know each other later), so allow them to excuse themselves or offer a polite "well, I should get back to unpacking" to avoid any excessive lingering.
While it's fair to expect neighbors to come to you, not all will. If that's the case, there's nothing wrong with taking the initiative and ringing their doorbell. Etiquette institution Emily Post suggests that when it comes to meeting new neighbors "it doesn't matter who takes the first step." It's plausible that your neighbors didn't want to trouble you -- everyone knows how stressful moving can be -- and they'll appreciate your effort to introduce yourself. Take over some goodies if you really want to make a good impression, but be mindful of potential food allergies and religious dietary practices. Chocolate chip cookies (no nuts) are typically a safe bet, especially if you happen to move in next door to my house.
2. Put yourself out there (literally)
Not everyone in your neighborhood is going to stop by to introduce themselves, and you can't very well knock on every door without looking like some sort of a solicitor. You can, however, encounter lots of your neighbors by making your new presence visible. Mymove.com identifies April to October as peak moving season, which in most parts is prime time for working in the yard and going to the community pool, among other outdoor activities.
If your new home has a yard, you'll probably be spending plenty of time planting flowers, fighting weeds and mowing the grass. While you're out there, keep an eye out for passing neighbors as they will surely take note of you. Be sure to wave when a neighbor passes by, and take time to chat with them if they stop. Granted, meeting neighbors with a flushed face and sweat-soaked shirt isn't necessarily ideal, but they won't judge if they're neighbors worth befriending.
The neighborhood pool, if you're fortunate enough to have one, is another perfect place to meet neighbors on the fly. Since this is a much more neutral and casual setting, feel free to let conversations extend a bit longer than you would if meeting neighbors for the first time in the yard or doorstep. Aside from your yard and the pool, look for and frequent other communal spaces, such as a clubhouse or simply along the street while taking a walk.
3. Let your dog break the ice
Speaking of taking a walk, your dog (if you have one) is a great excuse to get out and walk around the neighborhood, and you're likely to encounter some fellow dog owners along the way. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 38% of American households have a dog, and 100% of those dogs need to go outside to stretch their legs and do their business. You could potentially run into a third or more of your neighbors just by walking your dog.
What's great about dog to dog interactions is that they are more than willing to introduce themselves. Of course, you'll want to make sure both sides are being friendly, but once the dogs are checking each other out and making their formal introductions, seize the opportunity to speak with your newly acquainted neighbor.
4. Embrace the small talk
However you've happened upon your new neighbors, keep the conversation easy and upbeat. Along with talking about your move (where you're from, how the move went, how'd you find out about the neighborhood, etc. because your neighbor will ask), go ahead and talk about the weather or whatever comes to mind.
Be sure to ask your neighbors questions to keep them engaged. "How long have you been in the neighborhood?" is an easy one, and asking for recommendations on things like which grocery store to go to and where to eat gives your neighbor the opportunity to contribute to the conversation and possibly share some helpful insight.
Avoid any subjects that are personal or unpleasant, like politics, religion, the COVID pandemic -- anything you wouldn't want to discuss with your distant uncle at Thanksgiving.
5. Join neighborhood social media groups
While social media is often a hotbed for the touchy subjects mentioned above and many others, it can also be a great tool for connecting with your local community. Many neighborhoods have their own Facebook group to share news, make announcements and perhaps even sell an item or two. If home and neighborhood security is your thing, you may want to consider a Ring doorbell and downloading the Neighbors app to get alerts about what's going on in your neighborhood.
If you really want to maximize social media's potential to connect with neighbors, check out Nextdoor. The app is dedicated entirely to connecting users with their neighborhood and greater local community. A Nextdoor spokesperson tells CNET that "Nextdoor is unique because we ensure you're connected to real people in the neighborhood. This creates a trusted environment to make a post introducing yourself or to invite neighbors to meet in-person at a local park or coffee shop."
Watch this: New homeowners' buying guide: Here's what you need in your toolkit
6. Have a yard sale
Say you've got more items to sell than could reasonably be listed on social media marketplaces (you never realize just how much junk you have until you move). Maybe it's the Southern in me, but I'd say that calls for a yard sale.
Not only will a yard sale help you get rid of some of that junk, it will serve as an open invitation for neighbors to stop by, chat and maybe even buy something from you. If they do purchase something, use it as a conversation starter next time you see them. "Hey, neighbor! How's that gravy boat working out for you?"
Another thing a yard sale can do is put your hobbies and interests on full display. Those baseball cards could finally come in handy when you connect with a neighbor who shares your passion for baseball. And all that excess yarn you're selling? I bet you're not the only knitter in the neighborhood.
7. Seek out neighbors with similar interests
Maybe you happened upon some neighbors who have similar hobbies and interests at the yard sale, maybe not. Either way, you'll want to identify and connect with neighbors who you have something in common with.
Throughout conversations with your neighbors, keep an ear out for things that interest you, and feel free to share some of your interests as well. Your job, where you're from, the sports teams you cheer for, how old your kids are, etc. are all topics that could open the door for connecting with your neighbors.
Going back to social media, Nextdoor is a simple way to find neighbors with similar interests as well. A Nextdoor spokesperson tells CNET that users can "join or create a Nextdoor Group based on your interests to connect with other like-minded locals. Whether you want to connect with gardeners, sports enthusiasts, or fellow cat lovers."
8. Throw a housewarming party (or two)
OK, you've met some neighbors and a few of them even share some of the same interests as you. It could be time to have them over for a housewarming party. Shoot for a weekend evening and invite any and all the neighbors you want. Don't feel pressured to invite everyone you've met, but you may want to invite your next door neighbors so they don't feel excluded. Provide dinner if you want -- bonus points if it's prepared on a good grill -- but don't feel obligated to do so. Light refreshments are perfectly acceptable.
If you're planning on having a housewarming party with friends and family, you may want to keep it separate from the one with your new neighbors. Since you're already comfortable with your friends and family, it could be easy to start up and continue conversations with them while unintentionally neglecting your neighbors.
9. Keep it natural
Whenever and wherever you see your neighbors, try to keep the interaction natural. What I mean by that is try to avoid forcing a conversation, overstaying your welcome, or letting visitors overstay their welcome. Any situation that makes you or your neighbors uncomfortable is one that is unlikely to lead to a future friendship.
It's OK if you just don't click with a neighbor, but once you've made that realization, move on and accept the neighbor as more of an acquaintance than friend. Wave when you see them and say hello at the pool, then go about your way. Who knows? Perhaps down the road you'll become besties.
10. Be a good neighbor
Above all, making friends with your neighbors starts with being a good neighbor. Waving when you see a neighbor, obeying HOA landscaping guidelines (they can be a pain, I know) and reserving fireworks for July Fourth are all ways you can be considerate of those around you. Try to live by the Golden Rule and treat neighbors how you would want to be treated.
Even if you're not interested in making friends, being a good neighbor is paramount to creating and maintaining a positive relationship with those around you. A good relationship with your neighbors may not be as instantly rewarding as finding the perfect paint color for the guest bathroom or unpacking that final "Kitchen" box, but it will equally go a long way toward making your house a home for years to come.