How do you get to know your neighbors without seeming like a weirdo?

March 23 |
By: Courtney NashCC BY 2.0
We've been living in the same building for three years and don't even know our neighbors' names!

Now we're about to move into a new place and hoping to change this but I don't know how.

There are no shared facilities we could chat while using, no shared space we might be in at the same time (not even a corridor).

I don't feel confident enough to jump straight to throwing a party… so I'm at a bit of a loss.

I want to start off in the new place on the right foot, but I just don't know how.

-Danikat

I'm totally looking forward to learning how other people handle this — what have you got? How do you meet your neighbors?

  1. One simple way to start is just to knock on their doors, perhaps bearing a small gift (like a candle), and introduce yourself. It might help promote conversation if you ask about local events or places to eat; try to look for common interests. And if they seem uncomfortable, let the conversation dwindle, but invite them over for a cup of tea sometimes. It might feel awkward to do so, and maybe some of your neighbors WILL think you're weird. But anybody who finds polite introductions weird is going to be hard to please anyways, so don't sweat it.

    I'm actually looking forward to my next move; I'd love to get to know my neighbors more, but there's a language barrier between many of us, and that definitely complicates matters.

    7 agree
    • There is also a language barrier with our neighbors (we live in the Netherlands). Some of them speak some English (and my Dutch is limited) but I did meet some of them when picking up my packages. Here they deliver your packages to your neighbor if you aren't home. I figure when the weather is nicer I'll pop over again and say hi.

      0 agree
  2. I'm apt to just knock on doors and say hello, but you could contrive a chance to meet. Knock on the door and explain "Oh, we just moved in and I wanted to bake cookies but I realized I haven't had time to go buy sugar! Can I steal some?" And then deliver a share of the goodies later. Nothing's sure to endear you like a delivery of fresh cookies!

    9 agree
    • One of my first neighbors dropped by as soon as I moved in to borrow something. It wasn't an awesome way to start the relationship, I thought :(

      23 agree
      • Would it have been better if they had returned it with baked goods?

        13 agree
      • Y'all have just convinced me to do what I thought in the first place. I bake great shortbread, my mother's recipe. I also have cookie boxes left over from last Christmas. A knock on the door, a hello, I moved in over there, and I come bearing gifts. I'll meet my neighbours!

        8 agree
      • Yeah, I can't say I'm exactly fond of the neighbor that only makes his presence known when he needs a corkscrew or has a late-night party that only seems to get louder and louder :/

        But, it might be better if it involved a gift later, since then it would seem less like freeloading and being generally a nuisance.

        0 agree
    • I used cookies to get to know my neighbors! works like a charm.

      6 agree
    • I would suggest instead of asking to borrow something to make cookies, bring over a plate you baked, with the excuse that you baked them for friends who helped you move, but they didn't end up taking many so you have lots of leftovers!

      27 agree
      • When we moved into this place just before Christmas ours came round, said hi and gave us mince pies – a day or so later I knocked on their door and told them that I had to give them gingerbread in return for mince pie because it was only fair. It worked out well :)

        3 agree
    • I once had a creepy older neighbor borrow a cup of sugar and then try to "return" it at like 2 AM, at which point I became a lot more diligent about locking doors. I now find the sugar thing kind of off putting, but I WOULD just show up with baked goods and a "hi, we're new!"

      10 agree
  3. I've met four of our neighbors. One talks a lot and approached us. One hates cats, and called us over to chat with her. And on couple I met when I stopped by to ask them to help me catch the neighbor's loosed dog. They were super friendly.

    1 agrees
  4. It's a little easier if you have a dog. We're always running into our neighbors while we take our dogs out. If you don't have a dog you can still use theirs as a conversation starter. People love talking about their pets.

    12 agree
    • I definitely met my apt. neighbours because of their dog. It's a reason that you have to go out into the hallways more often, and chance encounters are more likely! They were really nice people (and so was the dog)

      3 agree
    • YES! I lived in on my street for over a year and knew barely anyone. As soon as we got a dog, I met half the neighborhood in the dog park. Best and quickest way I know!

      7 agree
    • My dog recently tried to eat my neighbours' cat. (Unfortunately, he thinks cats are the bestest-evar chewy toys.) Not the greatest way to meet them, but it certainly was a conversation starter. Thank the gods the cat was all right.

      1 agrees
    • Spare a thought for the allergic/petrified of dogs!

      Not quite on the same topic, but I'm having to avoid offers to visit a new friend's home – not because of her, but because her pets majorly set off my allergies, even after taking antihistamines before I arrive! Also, my partner is terrified of dogs. I'm not sure "oh my god run!" would go down too well if trying to meet the new neighbours…!

      2 agree
    • If you don't have a dog, and you have a front yard gardening at the time people come home/dogwalkers are out works well.

      3 agree
  5. We also did the cookie thing…. around Christmas time, my kids and I baked a bunch of simple sugar cookies and I painted some cheap ornaments… we put them in brown paper sack lunch bags that I let the kids color on (and I strung some yarn through holes I had punched in the top)…. inside we put a note saying Happy Holidays from the Talleys (and put our address), and then we loaded them up in the wagon and I let the kids hand them out to anyone who was home… if no one was home, then we just hung it on their doorknob… so many people responded so positively.

    Since Easter is coming up, you could do Easter cards and some cookies or Easter candy or even some hand picked flowers… :)

    15 agree
    • This sounds like a great idea!

      Something that we did was to keep an eye out for yard sale fliers. They're pretty frequent around here and a yard sale means they're already in the right mindset to be approached by friendly strangers (we're both serious introverts so this helps us not feel intrusive). On the day of the yard sale we would just pop over for a little bit to introduce ourselves. I ended up getting a free fake christmas tree once this way!

      2 agree
      • I wish I would have thought of this sooner. We went to a yard sale years after moving into our house and ended up really liking the people who lived there. If only we would have stopped to talk with them sooner!

        0 agree
    • Just a note, I think this kind of thing is a cool idea, but you might not want to have it tied to a very specific religious holiday. If they are Pagan or Jewish or nonreligious in general, they might not celebrate Easter. I wouldn't be offended if someone gave me Easter stuff, especially if I knew they were trying to be friendly, but I would be less likely to try and get to know them more if I felt they didn't at least take into consideration that I may not celebrate everything they do.

      18 agree
      • I suggestion I have is something that my sister I did for our neighbors when we were teenagers. We left goodie bags full of hard-boiled painted eggs, cookies, and other treats with a card that said "Happy Spring". I haven't met anyone who hasn't been offended by the changing seasons, and they were a hit with our christian, agnostic and Jewish neighbors. It was a way to share our favorite spring equinox treats without bringing religion into the picture.

        9 agree
        • I hesitate to give any type of food item to people I don't know because of the risk of allergy or dietary restriction. I am vegan and as nice as it is its soooo depressing to be given yummy looking treats that I can't eat :(

          13 agree
  6. I was very fortunate to have a roommate early on who just knew how to meet tons of people. I picked up a few tips! See what your community's already up to: what's the library offering these days? is there an ultimate frisbee league that meets at your park? Granted, these things aren't ways to meet your neighbors specifically, but a great way to feel connected to your new locals.

    2 agree
  7. I met my (former) neighbor upstairs in a rather odd way. It was July and I had all my windows open to let the breeze into my kitchen. I was cooking dinner and talking to my dad on Skype when all of a sudden I heard someone yell out, outside, "HELLO! ARE YOU AMERICAN?" I ignored it at first, but after I got off the phone with my dad, I stuck my head out my window and said "Um, hi, anonymous voice! Was someone calling me?" He yelled "Up here!" I looked up & to my right and saw him standing on his balcony, taking a cigarette. I waved and said hi, and asked if he needed something. He just said "Oh, well, I heard someone speaking English and I thought I should say hi. I could use the practice!" We ended up having chats like that (me out the window, him from his balcony) for a few weeks, until I finally managed to coax him into coming downstairs for a small party I had, one day.

    He moved away about 2 months later, but it was really nice that he reached out to me since
    a) I was new in the building and NO ONE was talking to me, yet.
    b) Swedish people aren't known to be very adventurous and forthcoming when it comes to strangers.

    Point to my weird little story: reaching out in any way you feel comfortable is good. *:)

    16 agree
    • I loved this story! Thanks for sharing it with us! At some point I may be making a short term move to Sweden for work, so this really put a smile on my face.

      1 agrees
  8. If you're the kind of person to just jump in and throw a party, I would suggest a picnic/block party style – put a flyer/invite into everyone's mail boxes, and plan for an outdoor event so that no one has to feel awkward or unsafe being in a stranger's home. Either at a park nearby, or offer your lawn to host.

    2 agree
  9. I agree with Carolyn – just go and introduce yourself. It's a really great way to sort out who is worth your time vs. who is not. We lived in a place for 7 months where we didn't know anyone, no one would make eye contact, ect. So when we moved to our new place a few months ago we were really nervous. I won't lie – it wasn't instantaneous, but we did make friends with our next door neighbors and spend a lot of time with them. The way to keep it not creepy is to initiate contact, then leave the ball in their court. If they feel like reciprocating they will, and if not then you'll never be able to please them so don't bother trying.

    3 agree
  10. when I recently moved from England into a small cottage in a quiet cul-de-sac in America I was honestly dissapointed that people didnt come over to say hello with a basket of cookies like they do in ALL american movies I've ever seen.
    We've been here 1 1/2 months now and know a few neighbours by face just to nod, smile and say hello to but maybe as the weather gets better and people are out in their gardens more they might get more friendly

    7 agree
    • Some of us were raised to do that, while others think it's odd. It may just be your area. Recently, a co-worker's mother passed and I made his family a casserole for dinner and they were very grateful, but obviously thought us a little nutty!

      4 agree
      • I made a casserole for a family in my street who'd just had a baby – who wants to cook two days after giving birth? They acted like I'd offered to cook the baby!

        3 agree
        • Wow! I so wished someone had done that for me. My now ex-hubby decided work was more important than helping me out and I was having trouble with breast feeding all amounting to no actual cooking anything for myself all day. So there I sat eating granola bars, struggling with a newborn, and to proud to ask for help. I cried with joy when my father-in-law actually came to stay for a week and instead of asking if I needed help he just did what he saw needed doing.

          3 agree
  11. We are facing this problem as we speak. WE just moved to GA from Florida and don't know anyone, so I have been trying to meet all of our neighbors. If you have pets, it is a good conversation starter, as well as kids. I started by just getting recommendations from them – like what good places to get food are, good parks and hiking areas, and even vet and pediatrician recommendations. Asking them for those things opened up conversation and helped us find common ground. Now we always wave when we see each other, and sometimes talk. it really helped

    2 agree
  12. My husband and I met our next door neighbor in our condo building when the fire alarm went off! We were all standing outside waiting for the all clear from the fire department, and her dog ran up to me. Come to find out she is in the unit next to us! We had only been here for about 2 weeks at the time. So now I will see her out in the neighborhood walking her dog and we will chat for a few minutes. Other than that we don't know anyone else in our building. A contributing factor is that its 90% older people in our building and they don't speak english very well. We live in Richmond, British Columbia part of the the Great Vancouver Area, and its mostly an Asian community here. But I have a great coffee shop I go to every morning and chat with the baristas, and of course my friends. It would just be nice to not have to take the train 20 minutes to see one of them! :)

    1 agrees
  13. My goal is to get to know my neighbors better this spring (in Minnesota, we mostly hibernate all winter). It starts with sharing a smile or a wave, so you begin to recognize each other's faces. I find that we deepen those connections best through spending time outside. We've made connections by sharing an extra garden plant, snowblowing our neighbor's sidewalk, helping them jump-start or dig out their car, or just generally being outside when other people are out. Invite your neighbors over for a beer when you're grilling. Offer to loan your rake/saw/whatever if they're doing yardwork. Take advantage of a block party or trick-or-treating to exchange names. And don't be afraid to just say, "I don't think we've met. I'm ____" when you cross paths. Most people want to know their neighbor's names and won't be weirded out by your introduction.

    If you have kids in your neighborhood and it's the kind of place where they can play outside, that's also a huge help. Even if you don't have children yourself, kids are a great conversation-starter. Whether they're curious about your garden, careening their tricycle into your parked car, or wanting to pet your dog (all things that have helped us meet neighbors), a chance to chat with their parents will inevitably follow. Compliment a neighbor's adorable baby or offer to let the kids expand their game of tag into your yard and you're sure to start a conversation.

    In my city, the police department offers free classes about starting block clubs. Even if you're not interested in a club, I've found the classes to be a great source of information about city resources, crime prevention, community-building, and how to approach issues with your neighbors. See if your city offers something similar.

    1 agrees
    • Colleen, where in MN are you? We just bought a house in the SW metro and are moving in mid-May, it's my goal to meet our new neighbors this summer too!

      0 agree
  14. I have been living in my new home for 4 months now and don't know my neighbors… I am a bit apprehensive because my previous neighbors were friendly with my husband and I and they turned out to be uncontrollable drunks who would come bang on our windows at 4 in the morning on a Monday. I don't think the odds are for us having neighbors like that again… but still…

    2 agree
    • That is how my husband met our former upstairs neighbors. One of them came drunk to our door because he thought it was his apartment. He was banging on the door saying he forgot his key and how dare we lock him out! Next day his daughter came down to apologize.

      0 agree
  15. How we met our neighbors? Our dog slipped out the front door and pooped on their lawn, and then we ran around calling her and throwing treats until she finally decided the treats were more interesting than the neighborhood. And then the neighbor gave us a bag. So we're friends now? Or we're the crazy lesbians across the street with the out of control dog. I prefer to think they love us – after all, we did pick up the poop.

    I suppose I should add that this probably didn't help us meet our neighbors "without seeming like a weirdo." Other ideas we had (but haven't done yet) are sit outside with cookies in the summer while reading the paper or playing games, and invite people to join us…

    3 agree
  16. We started off badly with one set of neighbors, who had just moved next door, because they called the cops constantly on our dog for barking, even though he's only out in the yard during daytime hours for short periods of time(i.e. not super early in the morning, not after about 8 p.m. at night for less than an hour), he was barking at THEIR cats coming into OUR backyard, and they have dogs. We started staying out in the yard with him, to show that he's not being left outside with no supervision, and to loudly shoo cats back to their own yard. I think that laid the groundwork to meet face to face, when he knocked on our door to ask my husband to help him with replacing the brakes on his car (my husband's a mechanic). So I agree about being outside grilling/gardening/ playing catch, if that's a possibility. Putting friendly faces to your house/apt number goes a long way. And, I don't know if this applies to you, but bars are good for small town socializing, especially ones that have special food days, like .99 cent hot wing day, or activities, like trivia tournaments or live bands.

    1 agrees
  17. My husband and I are extreme introverts, but we've found that doing small, nice things will often encourage your neighbors to approach you instead of the other way around. For example, we would often be the first ones out to shovel the snow in the winter, so we would go down the sidewalk and shovel our neighbors' sidewalks, too. We also mowed the small strip of land on the side of their house that is connected to ours. They stopped by just to say thanks and we naturally got to know them from that.

    3 agree
  18. These are all great tips as my husband and I are looking to buy a house soon. I want to at least get 'passing wave' friendly with our neighbors, and then possibly to the point where we could help each other out with things like watching pets and getting mail when the other is on vacation.

    2 agree
  19. Great tactics guys!

    When my husband and I first moved into our bottom corner apartment, the first thing we wanted to do was introduce ourselves to our neighbors (at least the ones who shared walls with us). Our old places, no one really talked to one another. Unless they had kids, and they were friendly to strike up some conversation, but I was always hesitant to talk with the younglings because their parents didn't talk to us, so I didn't want them to get in trouble for talking with strangers. I remember a time I was over at my husband's apartment and we were on his balcony watching the fire truck come down the street for some reason or another and randomly his neighbor came out onto his balcony, threw out a bucket of liquid, and went back inside. It was so weird because we never knew anyone lived there and the liquid hit the downstairs neighbors patio. Not very friendly indeed.

    So anyway, when we moved into our new place, our neighbors next door happen to be moving in the same day. What a great way to strike a conversation, right? No! Neither of them responded to "Hello" or "How are you" or "Do you need help with that?" We've tried multiple tactics and they just won't respond to anything. We've been here for 8 months and the most we've gotten from them was a complaint from the office filed by them because we were playing our record player at noon on a Saturday. What really sucks is they are always playing their tv up so loud we can hear what they are watching and the manager says when she went to talk to them they acted like they weren't even watching tv.

    Oi. It's not like they are old. They are our age (mid-20s). Just weird people. I keep telling myself at least we aren't waking up to mariachi music blasting through the bedroom window every morning at 5am like my old place. <3

    Our upstairs neighbor is super nice. I've run into him a few times. Big black guy who just minds his own business. I know he has a wife because I hear her heels all the time walking around, but I've never talked to her because our schedules don't mesh. I have seen her. Small white woman. They are cute together. And super sweet. One time he played music and it was really loud at night. I had my husband step outside to go tell them to turn it down a bit, but apparently he came out of his front door, looked down and simply said, "Too loud?" My husband said, yea just a bit. And he went right back in and turned it down. Easiest confrontation ever!

    So, even if you try to make friends with your neighbors, and they are nice, sometimes they are just content to themselves. I'm sure we will get to know them better in the fall since that's when Pepper Lily is going to come into the world. Take that loud tv watchers. Can't complain about a baby. <3 lol

    But really. Some times you'll make friends, sometimes you won't. Neighbors are funny that way, but it doesn't hurt to try. If they think you're weird for being nice, then really, whatever. Be weird. Be nice. Maybe they'll have a change of heart or perhaps need a ear or a cup of sugar one day. Relationships take time, so don't give up after the first (or the 80th). Same goes for me. I will keep trying to make them open up. Haven't tried the classic cookie trick yet.

    2 agree
  20. The day after my wedding, we had a crate-full of extra gerber daisies that didn't end up in centerpieces. They were tied in bunches of five or six, so I just went around our apartment complex knocking on doors and handing out flowers. People seemed to get a kick out of it.
    Of course not everyone has a ton of flowers just lying around, but I suppose if you happened to have a flower garden, you could make some nice bouquets. OR, if you have a vegetable garden, fresh produce makes a great gift too.

    2 agree
  21. We had a huge house warming party with all our friends (and house dedication– hung the mezzuzahs). Two days before I knocked on all our neighbors' doors and invited them to come. The two families that were home when I knocked came.

    One of the families I knew before I moved in. I'm their son's college adviser. I'd met them a week before we even bought the house, then they recognized me when we were at the house for an inspection.

    0 agree
  22. I was used to living in apartments and generally not knowing my neighbours. Probably because I grew up in the country and didn't really HAVE neighbours. I knew my building manager, but rarely knew anyone else. I'm a bit introverted with strangers, and tended to not worry about it. I met one when they helped carry up my ridiculously heavy desk, and then helped them push their car out (but that was as far as it went). When I moved away from home I had an old guy come over to borrow a corkscrew the first night I was there (my dad guessed just to meet me since it was an odd request). I also sort of met another neighbour when he asked to borrow my phone, and we would say hi in the hallways. He terrified me later by throwing tantrums in his apartment at night. I was scared his fist would come through my wall. I was thrilled when he disappeared and was apparently arrested.
    So moving into a house in a neighbourhood where everyone knows each other confused me. People stopped by to say hi, and they have an annual block party in the summer. One family invites everyone to decorate their Christmas tree. They give gifts to families with new babies. I'm still trying to adjust, but I know a few names and say hello, have warned neighbours when I was away and asked them to keep an eye out, they returned the favour.

    I still find it weird though. Not bad, just hard to adjust to.

    1 agrees
  23. Borrowing or bringing something seems very weird to me. I don't want to have new friends, I just want to know the people a little. My advice is to break the ice early, like the day you move in. Take two minutes to knock on every door and introduce yourself and your pets/partner. Tell them about what you do in life and that they should feel comfortable knocking on your door if the music is too loud or if they need something like their mail being taken care of when they travel and things like that. Most people won,t do it, but offering it makes them feel comfortable.
    If it's your neighbors moving in, I like to offer them a glass of lemonade (most people move in July in Québec)to be an ice breaker, but nothing more intrusive!!

    5 agree
  24. We just moved and used the same trick we used in our last building: freshly baked cookies. We have so much fun doing it. We package them up all pretty and go from door to door. It leads to some interesting stories. Some neighbors invite you in and chat for an hour. Some stand at the door and introduce themselves. Others look at you all flustered and act as though you've interrupted sex or something (I really think we might have – oops). After each apartment I write down the neighbors' names on my phone so that I have a little cheat sheet until I really learn people's names. It's a little awkward at first but people really appreciate it.

    We lived in a building for two years. There was a break-in in the apartment next to ours while I was home (I didn't hear it). I felt terrible that I didn't even know their names let alone how to contact the family while they weren't home. We vowed to know our neighbors from that time on.

    We also make it a point to introduce ourselves to the neighbors directly above and below us. That way everyone feels comfortable if any noise issues arise.

    3 agree
  25. I agree with what most people are saying here. I am not the most extroverted person so when I feel like I'm neglecting my neighbors I (wait until a holiday so I don't seem like a weirdo) knock on their doors and give them a little something. Nothing extraordinary so they don't feel the need to give you something back. My mom makes homemade soaps so that usually does the trick :)

    0 agree

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