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

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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?

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

  1. Start a neighbourhood email list! Both the neighbourhood I just moved out of and my new neighbourhood have them. People use them to discuss neighbourhood issues, ask for business recommendations, lend/borrow things (like a communal lawnmower!), etc. They’re a great way for people to get to know each other – a lot of people meet up offline as well. One of the lists just banded together to raise money for a neighbourhood member’s medical supplies needed when she left the hospital. It’s been a great way to feel like part of a village in a huge city.

  2. My partner and I are moving in two days, I’m really petrified of the neighbour issue. Everytime I have moved (which is a lot of the last 6 months) the neighbours have been awful. Let’s hope this time it’s not.

  3. We’re moving April 1st! This is the first time I’ll be striking out from “home”. My husband, my brother, and I aren’t the most extroverted, but I’m great at the loud and clear “Hi!” when I pass someone. We’re moving above a couple of shops in town with a few other apartments there. My dad’s going to be our mailman once a week, so we know that there’s an older woman, a couple of young guys(20-21 y.o.), a young family, and we’ve been informed a couple of other people will be moving in soon too. I don’t know how/if we’ll introduce our selves. My brothers went to school with the young guys and one of them was in a class our friend taught, so maybe we’ll have the guts to go for it…

    I’m good at baking though so maybe we’ll do the cookies. My husband is great at origami so maybe I’ll get him to fold little cards to introduce ourselves.

  4. What breaks my heart about apartments (and the west coast in general after years in Brooklyn, NY) is the fact that no one seems to know or care about each other…and I have made it my thing to try and really develop a community in my space.

    I am also (like many wise people have commented before me) a big fan of the knocking on doors or leaving notes. I would talk to the apartment place and see if THEY want to do a social kinda thing. My last place threw pet socials and people socials and it was a lot of fun!

    But I think it does totally throw some people off at first but ya know…even if they leave going “weird” …they might wake up the next day going “wow..someone took the time to come talk to me today.”

    We are tribal creatures by nature (so says my anthropologist aunt) but we have gotten lost.

    Awesome that you are trying to find a way to bring community back to your world!

  5. Wow, thanks everyone. So many great ideas!

    I really like the idea of going round with cookies or something. It seems like a massive jump to an introvert like me but so much easier than having a party and (in my mind at least) less intrusive than asking to borrow something. Plus I love baking so it’s a good excuse πŸ˜€

  6. Something that’s getting off the ground in the UK is The Big Lunch (http://www.thebiglunch.com/). It’s designed as a way of bringing neighbours together by encouraging them to arrange a local lunch on the 5th June. It’s a good catalyst for community, especially if you’ve been somewhere for a while and randomly turning up with food/drink/gifts would strike people as odd!

    I love the idea of the Big Lunch, however I’m a bit of a chicken and don’t have the guts to make the first step on my own. We’ve lived in our house for a little over a year and know some of the neighbours better than others, though we’ve never hung out with any of them.

    I might see if anyone we already know in the vicinity might be interested in local picnic and ask them to bring other people they know from the neighbourhood. That way it’s not 12 sets of strangers, but several groups of friends.

    • That sounds awesome but sadly isn’t happening anywhere near me. Maybe something to consider in the future though, if I ever get the enthusiasm to start one.

      I’m still trying to work up the courage to attend my Freecycle groups monthly coffee mornings!

  7. oh, we’ve been living in our home for a few years (for me) and his entire life. we lived here while taking care of his mom & grandma after his dad died. we took care of his grandma for a year after his mom died. and now the house is ours, no one else’s. and we want to say, hey, we’re kind of your new neighbors. but ours is a mow-your-lawn, kind of keep to yourself kind of area. when someone came over after my hubby’s mom died, we didn’t know it was our neighbor! we’ve been meaning to have a BBQ or something but it seems awkward to go around and stick something in people’s mailboxes. or not? maybe we should just do it. invite our friends, too, so if none of the neighbors show up, we can still have a party.

    • This is the other thing that put me off having a party. What if no one comes? Or worse like 1 or 2 people come? Years down the line it could be something you laugh about but as an ice breaker it could be disasterous.

      Sometimes I wish I lived in Sims land where all the neighbours come round within a couple of days of moving in to say hi. So much easier and there’s nothing like the local millionaire (yeah I use cheat codes, sue me) eating pizza standing up because you don’t have enough chairs!

    • also, our neighbors are all around our parents age or older. we’re in our late 20s. how do we make it less awkward?

      • We have that too – everyone here is either old, rowdy students or speaks little english. I met one of the older neighbours who mows our verge for us after i put a box of chocolates in his letterbox at christmas, with a note thanking him for doing it! and i went over once to warn him we had wasps so to stay away from the fenceline until we got rid of them – he now chats to me regularly but do you think i can remember his name??
        We do have a woman living behind us who only came to say hello to our flatmate’s parents, i think hoping they were moving in not us! (we’re all mid-20s), she still doesn’t like us at all. sigh. at least we have one nice neighbour!

        Er, right advice. If it’s cold, just go around and check on people – take them some of your famous hot-chocolate mix! or if they have a lovely garden, just knock on the door and say you love it, and ask for tips on not killing your potplants! a lot of older people are more than happy to talk to people, though there’ll always be someone who just doesn’t want to. You can but try!

      • If it helps at all, I’m probably what you’d call old (we have daughters in their early 20s), but I’d love to meet younger neighbors. It’s really dull knowing only other ‘ollllllld’ people. I promise we don’t all want to talk about our experiences in the war/depression/good old days, or how our latest knitting project is coming along. An occasional half hour chat over a glass of wine would be welcome with any neighbor!

  8. All the other people in our building are senior citizens and one apartment on the top floor that has college guys living in it. We clear of the older people’s cars in the winter after a storm, and they give out candy to our kids on Halloween. They are always very friendly and when we were moving in they said hello and were really excited to have a family moving into the building. My Fiance carried a huge air conditioner up to the 3rd floor for one of the ladies one time and set it up for her, then when it came time to put them away went up and took it down for her. Common courtesy is a great way to meet people…holding doors, giving a compliment (I like your umbrella…)

  9. I’ve never mastered the “meeting people” of any kind trick but I can say that I know all the neighbors in my complex that have a dog and I know the DOGS names. Midnight, Blackie, Negro, Zoey, and Champ. (…….I keep wondering why everyone here thinks that if you have a black dog you have to name it something retarded to do with a dark color.)

    Funny thing is… I don’t have a dog.

  10. We’ve only met one of our neighbors (we live in an 8 unit apartment building), but he seems really awkward, and is ALWAYS around. He warns us about the weather and sometimes switches our laundry over if I don’t get to it fast enough, which I find STRANGE! Please don’t touch my underwear!

    • He probably thinks he’s being helpful but I’d find that really strange too!

      Although sometimes when I was at university someone would empty out a machine and leave it on the top because some people just left their stuff in there all day and there were only a few machines for an entire block of students!

      • We only have one washer and dryer for our building, so I totally get needing to move stuff over, but he also knows which apartment is mine, so he could always just knock. Plus, I always set an alarm on my phone to switch my laundry, so It’s only ever sitting for like 5 minutes!

  11. I am super shy, so I’m content with knowing my neighbours enough to share a friendly “hello,” but I would really like to break out of my shell a little more. At our old apartment we had a man die next door, and no one knew until… well, you can imagine. πŸ™ Since we moved to our new city my husband and I have met a couple of our neighbours and felt pretty accomplished about that. Then my super-friendly mom moved in with us and she knows way more people here than we did!

    Huh, just realized there’s no advice in this comment, just sharing, haha. Hitting post anyway…

  12. As a young person in the pacific northwest, a good way to meet other young people is to stand outside playing hackeysack and invite passerby to join in.

  13. We’re about to move into a house that’s right next to the entrance of a new green line trail. We’ll have tons of foot and bike traffic going by and I’m trying to convince my husband that we need to have a Free Sno Cone Day after we move in. We have a snow cone maker – not like a Snoopy One but a really good one – and I think it’d be cool to set up a little stand in our driveway and offer sno cones to the people coming off the green line. People might think it’s weird but I’m hoping it’ll give us a good opportunity to meet people from around our new neighborhood.

    As for our immediate neighbors: we’ll be in a cul de sac so we’ll only have a few but we’re going to throw a cookout with karaoke and invite them over. What better way to break the ice than to sing Baby Got Back into a microphone?

  14. Husband and I are lucky enough to live in quite a friendly, safe area, and we get on well with all of our neighbours. The first weekend after we moved in, we introduced ourselves to direct neighbours with a bottle of wine. The neighbours to our right were so surprised, and so genuinely lovely, we were invited in to share it with them (and they even got out cheese and crackers!). As they have been in their house for 30 years, we got the run-down on the neighbourhood, what the other neighbours were like, even what our landlord was like (she lived in our house when she bought it, in her early 20s).

    We also went doorknocking the day before our housewarming to give out mobile numbers and a request to call us about noise before the cops. Not only did we have a killer party, but we got to meet most other people in the area that aren’t direct neighbours.

    We now share crops from our vegie patch with neighbours who swap with eggs, swims in their pool (BLISS during Queensland summers!) and wood-fired pizza. Nothing better than offering fresh tomatoes and basil to a neighbour before they have a party, and they bring around a freshly cooked pizza for you using those ingredients.

    I’m also a big advocate for the smile and wave approach – whether we’re driving through the street, going for a walk in the afternoon, or having drinks on our balcony. I think that puts people’s minds at ease (as we’re renters and can be lazy with mowing our lawn), and can help you come across as seeming helpful and trustworthy.

    • My husband and I lived in the rural south for a year before moving back to our hometown in PA. Everyone in our old Southern town waved to everyone else- not just friendly-nod kind of waving, like long-lost-cousins kind of waving. It gave the place a very friendly feel, even though we rarely talked to anyone above a “hi, how are you”.

      Unfortunately, the friendly-waving habit that we brought back with us rarely gets us anything but weird looks in our new neighborhood. (We’ve downgraded to the “friendly-nod” waving so that we don’t look too freaky). I’m hoping that if I wave to enough people frequently enough, someone will start a conversation with me…

      Other than that, I would recommend taking walks when other people are outside, and giving them compliments on their yard/car/house/kids/pets/etc. And asking questions. People like to talk more than people like to listen, and I’ve found that nothing is more endearing and friend-making than asking open-ended questions and being willing to listen to the answers!

  15. When some friends and I moved to a new house my girlfriend at the time wrote notes to all the houses on the block, saying that we were new and looking to get settled in, and if anybody had extra garden starts or houseplant cuttings we’d love to exchange them for some lawn mowing. She was a complete extrovert and happily left these notes at every neighbor’s door. I’m a total introvert and I was mortified at how forward the gesture was. But wouldn’t you know, we ended up with a bunch of plants, a steady childcare gig for one of the housemates, and a bunch of friendly neighbors. That living situation continued as a collective after I left, and when I visited five years later the house was still receiving random things from the neighbors (including a sewing machine during my visit!)

  16. Very late to the party here, but I just wanted to say that in the apartments I’ve lived in, I’ve had the most luck meeting people when I was checking the mail. I do it frequently – sometimes multiple times a day if I don’t know when the postman is coming/am expecting something – which results in a lot of time in the lobby/on the porch. Some more-outgoing neighbors have said ‘hi’ as they passed me, and with others, I’ve said “hi” if they or I am standing there shuffling through the mail. They’re already standing still to check the box, so they may be more clement to talking for a moment. I’ve at least been introduced to most of my neighbors through this method.
    As I write this, I realize it might somewhat depend on location – I live in an area with a lot of old houses subdivided into apartments, and the PO boxes are frequently on a porch. It is a bit harder in a lobby.

  17. Try to throw a huge house party and invite everybody, be sure th have beer and be seductive also have many other people and put on loudly “look at me now by Chris brown” if you want to get to the action. Ps invite uglier people than you two

  18. We moved into a rental house mid-October this year, and a bit over a week ago, one of our neighbours dropped by, wanting to get to know us. They wanted to set up an evening to chat β€” they suggested that they could bring a bottle of wine over on an evening that worked for all of us. We got together this past Friday, and it was great! YMMV on wine, of course, since some people don’t drink, but something in that line β€” either inviting people over for a beverage of choice (e.g. tea, coffee, wine, beer), or suggesting that you could bring something to their place β€” could work pretty well.

  19. If there’s a common area, either on premises or a park nearby, post a flier by the mailboxes about a building meet up. Then grill or serve drinks or cookies (byob if on premises and check with mngmnt first for the ok) … whatever floats your boat. That way if there are creepers, they don’t know what unit you’re in, but you can meet everyone and see if there’s chemistry.

  20. The best way I’ve met new neighbors is with a tool in hand. I often end up with elderly neighbors so I offer yard clean up or other help. If they have dogs or cats I bring a treat, but I ALWAYS wait until the family is outside because no one likes people dropping in for a visit. I do tend to leave a card with treats or phone number if I can’t catch people out and about in a timely fashion.

  21. At my old apartment a really friendly couple moved in about a year after I did. The best way we got to know each other was through offering up things: my ex and I had a mini keg that we hadn’t emptied at a party so we offered to share with them, meanwhile I needed a grill for a cookout on my birthday they offered me theres–provided I cleaned it when I was done. It helped that they were naturally talkative and friendly to start, whereas I’m not always, but we just offered things back and forth and that worked out. Or even just super short exchanges on our way to our respective cars–sometimes that helps too. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture.

  22. One thing one of my neighbors did was start a FB group and invited the neighbors with a flier. It’s an opportunity to ask questions, buy and sell things, get advice, and get to know them!

    We live in a house, so this next part might not work too well for apartment dwellers, but over the summer, every other Friday is “Flamingo Friday”. A couple of days before that Friday, someone will put a few plastic pink flamingoes in their lawn as a signal to all the neighbors that they’ll be hosting (as well as posting the address in the FB group). Friday night (6:30-ish) neighbors walk over with coolers and chairs and sit out in the lawn together until the sun goes down. The only thing the host needs to provide is a lawn and a bathroom (and maybe some citronella candles). It’s been an AWESOME way to get to know so many neighbors I never would have met otherwise.

  23. I moved in May, so as of today it’s been almost 4 months… would it be weird if I bring cookies now? we don’t know if we’re going to be here next year…

  24. I have found the best way to meet new neighbors is to just say hi if you run into them. “Cute dog” or “morning” works well in shy areas. Knocking on their doors tends to make them think you might be a burglar but if you do choose to do door to door knocking, make sure to say “Hi, I’m such-in-such from apt A-3, I just wanted to say hi!” That way shy unsure neighbors have a name and apt number and won’t feel you’re some random weirdo knocking on doors.

  25. My next door neighbors often said hello when he & his wife saw me jogging. As soon as we started chatting, his wife always looked for an opportunity to borrow some sugar, dish washing soap and even laundry detergent…seriously! When she asked me to call my niece to talk to her, I told her she was sleeping. Her response was angry-eyes! I then had the impression she was mentally unstable. Their 5 kids would always demand to hang out at my house. When the kids rang the doorbell, I would not answer. Then their kids would ring the doorbell multiple times…so ridiculous! So I had to put my foot down to tell the kids to stop doing that. I also just slam the door on them. They never did that again.

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