Moving is stressful, expensive, and exhausting. When the last moving truck has left and you are surrounded by boxes of yearbooks, pillows and office supplies, your neighbors are probably the last thing on your mind.
But, avoiding greeting your new neighbors might not be a great idea. After all, you share a neighborhood. This means you share a sidewalk, maybe a community park, you breathe the same air, your kids might play together, your tree might grow into their yard, your dog might *ahem* in their yard.
You don’t have to be best friends, although having your best friends as neighbors sounds awesome. But, having a friendly relationship means open communication when things go wrong (I think your son hit my mailbox with his scooter) or right (the ice cream truck is coming!). When you have the strength, make a plan for greeting your new neighbors. Also, being friendly with your neighbors gives you a sense of community, which some experts say is good for your health.
First, focus on getting your life together. Get most of your boxes unpacked and move those inevitable boxes that never get unpacked to the garage or storage room. Get a little order, then start planning how you will meet your new neighbors.
Pay attention to the HOA rules. Often, the neighbors are accustomed to living these rules, so they will be hyper aware if you start breaking them. Your grandma’s treasured garden gnome might need to find a place in the backyard, or your daughter’s Camry might need to be parked in the driveway instead of the street. This is a good place to start.
Don’t leave trailers full of boxes out in the driveway too long. People understand the chaos of moving, but if you take months to unload those last few plastic containers of Halloween costumes from your front porch, that’s bound to irritate your neighbors. They probably take pride in their street and take keeping values up seriously.
When you are ready (but not too long after you move in, or else it’s weird) plan your neighbor meeting outing. If you have kids, take them with you. If you have a well-behaved dog or two, bring them along. You don’t have to meet everyone on your street, but your immediate next door neighbors and possibly one or two across the street should see your faces.
If you have the time or talent, bake some cookies or treats and take them with you. Put a card on top that has some little factoids about your family written in it. You work for an accounting firm, your husband is a general contractor, you are always happy to give them a cup of sugar or a couple eggs, etc. It doesn’t have to be a lot of info, in fact it shouldn’t be.
Say “hi,” don’t take up a lot of their time. Let them know you are anxiously engaged in being a good neighbor, and chances are they will return the favor.
If you want to write a letter instead of marching over yourself, this is another way to introduce yourself that’s a little less intrusive. After all, some of your neighbors might not be very interested in meeting you face to face.
Write a letter, introduce yourself and your family. Include some photos. When your dog barks at a squirrel all night on your third night in the neighborhood, you get a lot more grace if they have met you and your dog, even if it’s just in photos in a letter. The nameless, faceless family with a noisy dog gets more vitriol at 2 am than the family that wrote that nice letter.
Assure your neighbors that you are happy to help them with a car jump, watering plants or feeding their pets when they are on vacation, or offer one of your older kids up for babysitting or mowing lawns. Show your value to them, and they will likely show their value to you.
The longer you wait, the more awkward that morning getting-in-the-car-to-go-to-work-at-the-same-time wave will get more awkward, or worse, stop altogether. Remember, most of the time, these people are living their lives only feet away from you. It would be a shame to become strangers when you can act like what you are, and that’s neighbors.