Black and white photo of a neighborhood

Meeting The Neighbors

Every neighborhood has its own energy. We all know that because we get to experience so many of them. Sometimes you hit the jackpot and you’re living in the environment you always wanted. Then there are the neighborhoods that you can’t wait to get away from. No matter how busy our lives are, or our neighbor’s lives, the neighborhood has a significant impact on your life. Because your neighborhood can have such a positive impact on your life or your family’s life, I want to share some ideas for connecting with your neighbors. No matter how sleepy of a street you think you are on, you might be pleasantly surprised at the new memories or old assumptions that can transform with a little courage.

  • Start a text thread. This is by far the most beneficial way to make connections with your neighbors. It also is a great idea in case of emergencies or severe weather events. Ask for their cell numbers and give them yours. Some people just will not want to participate and that’s okay too. Make sure to tell them once you have everyone’s number you will start a group text, so they know to expect it. Once you have gathered all the numbers start a group text introducing yourself again. And once you have it, use it! As military spouses, it feels like there is this invisible expectation that we shouldn’t ask for help. It is silly, and everyone absolutely needs help. This might seem trivial but ask for an egg or sugar, or some butter. Your request can break the ice and show that living in such close proximity to people can be beneficial. Once my son was sent home from school with a cold and my neighbor provided kids cold medicine that I didn’t have and couldn’t run to the store to get. It was super helpful!
  • Create neighborhood clubs. I’m assuming by this point every neighborhood already has a Facebook page. If your neighborhood doesn’t, start one first before creating a club. You can post on the neighborhood page and see if there is an interest in a book club, bunco club, sports club or food club. There are endless possibilities. The thing is we all really have much more in common than we realize. We are missing out when we don’t find the commonalities that can connect us to the people we live so close to. If you don’t have enough people in your neighborhood, invite them over for coffee or tea sometime. You can also have them invite friends and family to join in so you can have enough people.
  • Have a neighborhood cookout. We lived in a neighborhood once that we had assumed would be very friendly and active — it was not and we couldn’t believe it. People had been living next door to each other for years without ever meeting. So, we posted on the neighborhood Facebook page that we were going to have a cookout on the driveway one weekend and would love to meet as many neighbors as possible. It was very casual, and we got to meet a lot of neighbors that way — and they got to meet each other. It’s a great way to network and build your connections. You may be able to help someone with a problem by connecting them to a neighbor that has the insight needed. You just never know the good things that will come out of it.
  • Greet new neighbors. The fact of the matter is your neighborhood could look completely different one year from now. Keeping up with the arrival of new neighbors is a great way of getting them involved and it helps support them from the beginning! You don’t need to bring a basket, make a craft or bake cookies. Just showing up to say hi and exchange numbers or offering help can leave a positive impression.
  • Be you. Find a way to use your strengths and talents to impact your area for the good. You don’t have to be an extrovert, charismatic or love to host to do something impactful. Think of creative ways to bring quality to your neighborhood life.

We live in a proximity-isolated culture. The fact that we spend so much time living close to someone but not knowing them eliminates so many possibilities in our lives. I have learned a lot from my neighbors, good and bad alike. Neighbors can be a built-in support system that we don’t even realize we need. And not all neighborhoods are going to be a positive environment. Sometimes we just must take that for what it is and wait for a new neighborhood. I encourage you to have a little courage and try some of these ideas! Please share your favorite neighborhood meet-and-greet stories or your favorite way to break the ice with a neighbor.

photo of Katelyn Nixon
Written By Katelyn Nixon
Army Spouse

Katelyn has been a military spouse for six years and enjoys the adventurous lifestyle. To share her experiences with other spouses, she started a blog in 2018.

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