For a lot of people, getting to know the neighbors can be really intimidating. But building good relationships with your neighbors is important for many reasons, and it’s usually not as hard as you think. Here are 10 tips for getting to know your neighbors.
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Why should you get to know your neighbors?
There are so many reasons to get to know your neighbors. Over the years, some of our richest relationships have been with our neighbors. In fact, some of our closest family friends to this day are neighbors that my (Marissa’s) family met when I was just two years old.
Your neighbors are people who matter
Perhaps the first and most important reason to get to know your neighbors is that they are people who matter. Neighbors come from all walks of life. Most are probably not just like you. They might be lonely or they might have tons of friends. They might be young or old. Maybe some are just like you and will become your best friends.
Regardless of what your neighbors are like, they matter. And as their neighbor, you have the opportunity to show kindness to them. As Christians, we always hope to also have the opportunity to share the gospel and our hope in Christ with our neighbors.
Knowing your neighbors provides safety
Having strong relationships with your neighbors provides safety for both them and for you. Who better to have good relationships with than the people who are always near to your home?
Neighbors can alert each other of anything fishy they notice happening on the street. If an emergency happens, like a fire, they will be the first to see it. It also gives peace of mind to know that if you need help quickly, neighbors are there.
Knowing your neighbors provides friendship
While they may not turn out to be your best friends, there’s something powerful about having people who care and caring for people right outside your front door.
Knowing your neighbors provides endless opportunities to serve. And in the process, you will probably benefit from their friendship, too! What else are you going to do when cookies are in the works and you need a cup of sugar?
There’s nothing like neighbors who have your back
We have wonderful neighbors and are so thankful to know that they have our backs just like we have theirs.
We’ve had neighbors keep eyes on our house for us when we had to leave due to carbon monoxide. We’ve had neighbors knock on our door in the early morning hours when they got locked out of their home in the winter cold. We know that in a pinch, we have neighbors who would come over and sit with our kids. We have neighbors who have graciously let us borrow tools. We’ve been thankful to know our neighbors well enough to be able to bring them meals when they are sick. We’ve had neighbors shovel our driveway and even mow our lawn when we were busy and didn’t get to it right away.
There is so much peace of mind in knowing that you have a small community right outside your door.
How do I introduce myself to my new neighbors?
Introducing yourself to new neighbors isn’t as scary as you might think. A simple hello while you’re both outside is a great place to start. If you don’t see your neighbors outside much, you can simply knock on their door and introduce yourself.
10 tips for getting to know your neighbors
Here are some practical ideas for getting to know your neighbors, whether you’re meeting for the first time or wanting to grow your friendship.
1. Spend time outside
Depending on your living situation, this is probably the easiest way to meet or get to know your neighbors better. Spend time in your yard.
More specifically, spend time in your front yard. Back yards and privacy fences have become the norm. I once read about a family who put their grill in their front yard near the road, making it easy to say hello and invite neighbors over for a burger. Figure out ways to spend time where it’s easy to make conversation or simply say hi to neighbors passing by.
In addition, go for walks! When you see someone outside, just say hi. You don’t have to be weird about it. If they’re at an approachable distance, just start with something like, “Hey, I haven’t met you yet. I’m your neighbor two houses down. I just thought I’d introduce myself. What’s your name?” It can really be that simple. If they’re too far away to chat, at least give a wave and a friendly smile.
Questions to ask neighbors you’re meeting for the first time
Maybe you want to be friendly, but aren’t sure what to say or how to get the conversation going. If you’re meeting your neighbors for the first time, here are some simple questions to ask.
- “What’s your name?”
- “Do you have any kids?”
- “How long have you lived here?” (if you’re the new neighbor) or
- “Where did you move from?” (if they’re the new neighbor)
- “What do you do during the day?” or “Where do you work?”
It doesn’t have to be creepy or weird. If they seem like they don’t want to talk, don’t pry. Just smile and let them know it was great to meet them. Let them know you’re nearby if they ever need a hand (but only say this if you mean it, of course!).
Questions to ask neighbors when you see them outside (and you’ve already met)
If you’ve already met your neighbors, you can get to know them even better when you see them outside. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask how their kids are doing. Here are a few more ideas for questions to ask when you’re not sure what to say:
- “How’s your week going?”
- “What’s been keeping you busy lately?
- “What projects are you working on?”
- “How’s that project going that you told me about last time?”
- “Are you planting a garden this year?”
Try to keep track of your previous conversations and ask follow-up questions.
2. Remember their names
This may seem obvious, but remembering names goes a long way. The next time you see your neighbor outside, you can say hello to them by name. People feel so special and appreciated when someone remembers their name.
If you need to write it down, write it down! When we lived in an apartment, we had a lot of neighbors that we met all at once. I had a list on my phone of their names, and it helped so much.
Sometimes we would even write down a few details about them if we thought we would forget. As a result, they felt so appreciated when we remembered their names and simple details about their lives. If you can’t remember everything, writing it down is not cheating.
3. Bring them cookies
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but bringing cookies to your neighbors is still a kind gesture.
You don’t have to bring cookies, though. Bringing any small token gift over is a great way to meet your neighbors and learn their names. You can do this whether they’re the new neighbors or whether you are.
Other ideas could be include small plant, a jar of homemade applesauce, a pretty dish towel, or some handmade coasters (Garrett’s coasters are one of our favorite token gifts for anyone!).
4. Offer your help
If you’re willing, make it clear to your neighbors that you’re happy to help if they ever need something. They shouldn’t have to call a family member to come across town when they just need to move a heavy piece of furniture into the house. Let them know you’re around whether they need a quick hand or are low on sugar.
We’ve had neighbors who let us know up front that their tools are available to borrow if needed. Others have made sure we know that if we need someone to sit with the kids, they’ll come over. While we aim to not take advantage of these generous offers, it’s so nice to know that they’re there if we need them. At the same time, we always try to let our new neighbors know that we’re next door when they need us.
5. Share your phone number
Speaking of offering help, exchanging phone numbers makes neighboring so much easier. An easy way to do this is simply to write your number down on a sticky note and offer it to a neighbor when you meet him or her. There’s no pressure for them to give you theirs, but they probably will. Let them know that you’re just a call of text away if they need anything.
6. Invite them over
After you’ve met your neighbors, look for ways to further the relationship. Inviting them over for a simple meal is a great way to get to know them on a deeper level. Invite them into your home for a simple dinner and get to know more about their life.
Or, if you want to keep it really casual, let them know you’re grilling burgers on Saturday night and they’re welcome to join. Even easier, how about just letting them know that your family is having a bonfire and you have extra marshmallows for roasting?
We made a list of some natural conversation starters in this post.
7. Throw a neighborhood get-together
If you have a lot of neighbors and you feel overwhelmed at the thought of the time it will take to get to know them all, plan a neighborhood get-together.
This can be as simple as having three families over for grilling, or as involved as a full-blown block party.
If you have the space, you can throw a get-together in your own backyard. Pull out a few yard games like corn hole and ladder ball. Ask everyone to bring a dish to pass. Keep it simple.
Or, if you want to go all out, grab one or two neighbors that you know to help you plan a block party. The Art of Neighboring has a free online guide for how to throw a block party.
If your neighborhood has a park, keep it simple and have the party there.
Shortly after we first moved into the apartment building we used to live in, we hosted a simple barbecue at the park right behind our building. A couple of weeks in advance, we put signs up by all the doors letting people know that we would be grilling. We provided meat and asked people to bring a dish if they wanted (it was a fairly small building). Surprisingly, most of them showed up. It was a great way not only for us to get to know them, but also for them to connect with one another.
8. Use holidays and seasons to your advantage
If you’re feeling awkward about randomly dropping by at your neighbor’s house, maybe you can use a holiday to help break the ice.
If you made a bunch of jam this fall, bring a small jar over a couple of days before Thanksgiving to help add to your neighbor’s feast. (While you’re there, maybe you can ask them if they have plans for Thanksgiving. If not, could you offer a seat at your table?)
Have a small hill in your backyard? Invite the neighbor kids over to sled the next time you have a good snow.
Maybe your raspberry bush is producing more than you can tackle. Ask your neighbors if they’d like to come pick.
Will your kids be enjoying sparklers on the 4th of July? Your elderly neighbor would probably love to come sit with you and share in the joy and celebration.
9. Offer spontaneous invitations
Impromptu invitations are a great way to invite a neighbor into your everyday life. Who better to call than a neighbor when you end up with way more soup than your family will eat? Spontaneous get-togethers are an excellent way to build a sense of community with your neighbors.
10. Remember special days
Names aren’t the only important thing to remember about your neighbors. Keeping track of special days is one of the best ways to show people that you care. Really, this goes for all of your friends—not just your neighbors.
Keeping track of special days like birthdays and anniversaries gives you the chance to at least send a text and let your neighbor know you’re thinking of them. How loved do you feel when someone remembers a day that’s important to you?
10 tips for getting to know your neighbors
- Spend time outside
- Remember their names
- Bring them cookies
- Offer your help
- Share your phone number
- Invite them over
- Throw a neighborhood get-together
- Use holidays and seasons to your advantage
- Offer spontaneous invitations
- Remember special days
You can do this!
If you’re feeling intimidated about getting to know your neighbors better, remember that they probably are, too. In a world that’s becoming more and more virtual, getting to know the people around you in real life is becoming a rare skill.
You can be the one to step out of your comfort zone and build community with the people who are physically the closest to you.
What do you find to be the biggest hurdle in getting to know your neighbors? What ideas have worked for you to build community with those near your home?
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