Moving—whether to a new apartment complex or a house—can be stressful. You may need to take time off work to pack, ship and move your items.
It can also be difficult to settle into the neighborhood while feeling like a stranger in a new place. Once you move, getting to know your new neighbors can help you feel more settled.
Here’s what you can do to learn about your new community.
What to do when you’re new to the neighborhood
The easiest way to know your neighborhood is to take a walk and observe the area around you. Maybe you notice tricycles on someone’s balcony, which could indicate young families, or roof racks on SUVs, which could mean you live near outdoor enthusiasts.
Aside from that, many experts suggest looking for community organizations in your area.
“Contact your HOA, or ask your property manager at your apartment complex and look into their website to learn about your neighborhood or community events,” said Abhi Sreerama, owner of Keyrenter Houston, a property management firm. “Most property managers or HOAs have welcome packets, which list different amenities and emergency contacts.”
You may also:
- Sign up for unofficial community groups through social media pages or sites like Nextdoor.com.
- Go for a walk or drive around the neighborhood to learn about amenities for your home or apartment.
- Volunteer for community events at your apartment complex or homeowners association.
- Introduce yourself to neighbors in person or with a note.
- Suggest shared events, such as garage sales, or host a small housewarming party.
- Find a local park or playground to help your kids settle in and find new friends.
Don’t feel like you have to take all of these steps at once—moving is overwhelming enough. Start with one or two first; there’s no set timeline to get to know your neighborhood.
How to meet the neighbors
If someone has just moved into your neighborhood, you can help make them feel welcome.
“New neighbors are already nervous moving into a new place because they don’t know anyone in the area, and moving always seems to increase anxiety,” said Andrew Helling, a Nebraska-licensed real estate agent. “Being approached by a new neighbor helps ease the nerves.”
Here are some best practices for welcoming someone to the neighborhood:
- Invite your neighbor’s children over for a play date with your kids.
- Create a welcome packet or gift basket for the neighbors.
- Knock on their door and introduce yourself. Bring other neighbors with you (but not too many) to make it feel less intimidating.
- Leave a note if nobody’s home or you feel uncomfortable introducing yourself.
- Start a welcome committee for your neighborhood or complex.
- Throw a block party and invite your new neighbors.
- Leave business cards to local businesses and takeout menus to help them find amenities in the area.
You don’t know your new neighbors yet, so be careful not to overstep boundaries.
“Relationships take time to cultivate, but don’t try too hard, or else you risk pushing people away out of fear,” Helling said.
How can I learn more about my new neighbors?
While there’s no need to gather detailed information on your new neighbors, it can’t hurt knowing who is across the street or hallway from you.
“It can be helpful because neighbors can seem completely normal, but you want to be alert of potential dangers in the area,” Helling said. “For example, if there are records of [drunken] driving in the area, you want to be more careful at night, or if there are complaints of disorderly conduct, you may want to avoid certain neighbors.”
However, prying too much into your neighbors' lives can invade their privacy and may not even be necessary.
“You want to respect your neighbors' privacy, and unless you believe there could be a problem, it’s best to get to know them the old-fashioned way,” said Sreerama. “If you’ve already introduced yourself to them, you can pretty much get a feel for that person.”
Aside from knowing the neighbors, it doesn’t hurt to know the neighborhood a little bit more. You may have already sussed out the neighborhood before you moved in, but homeowners could try a property search that may reveal things like crime records, property reports and more.
It pays to be friendly
Whether you’re moving into a neighborhood or someone else is moving into yours, it’s helpful to get to know the area or show someone around. A simple handshake can open the door to a long-lasting relationship with neighbors and the community in general. Little gestures, such as joining in-person or online communities and hosting a small get-together, can be the difference between feeling isolated and feeling connected to the people who live around you.