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Howdy Neighbor: A Welcome Warmup

We’ve all been there – either you’re moving into a different neighborhood and feel a little at odds as the newcomer, or someone else is moving in and you don’t know whether to say hello or turn your head as you’re walking the dog. After all, you don’t want to seem too friendly, and what would you even say?

Social conventions have changed in the last few decades, but one thing’s for sure. If you’re settling into a new area for a while, or you’re planning on sticking around and someone else is moving in, it’s probably a good idea to swallow the awkwardness upfront and just say hello. That’s why we’re talking about a few ways that you can give your new neighbors a warm welcome, no matter who the newcomer is.

Start Out Simple

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Let’s face it – meeting new people can be a little uncomfortable, but the longer you put it off, the more awkward it becomes. So take it easy to start and just say hello. If you’re feeling rustic, a plate of cookies or a loaf of banana bread can go a long way. Or if baking isn’t your forte, just buy a bottle of your favorite wine or a six pack of your favorite beer. Chances are good that even if your new neighbor isn’t a fan, they’ll be grateful for the gesture – and a more natural conversation can follow.

Acknowledge Boundaries – And Set Your Own

That simple introduction is one of the easiest ways to discover boundaries without having to ask – if your new neighbor seems a little standoffish, chances are good they aren’t going to be thrilled with an overly enthusiastic greeting every time you see them walking the dog or leaving for work. Don’t read too much into the first few conversations, but try to recognize patterns in their behavior. If they’re quick to try to duck out of conversation, they may be shy – or they might just be busy and always on the run.

Once you get a feel for your new neighbors’ behavior, try to respect it. A more modest greeting when they’re out and about – a quick wave or hello, for example – might become the norm, and that’s okay. And if you’re both a little more extroverted and outgoing, then feel free to engage in conversations, exchange warmer greetings, and even invite each other over to socialize.

Share The Rules, Don’t Shout Them

Image Credit: Pocket Neighborhoods (www.pocket-neighborhoods.net)

If you live in a neighborhood with ample parking, it might not be that big of a deal if your neighbor has multiple cars (or frequent visitors) and takes up more than their “fair share” of parking spaces. But if parking is tight, don’t automatically assume that your new neighbor knows the details of parking policies (written or unwritten).

If you’re really outgoing, you might band together with other local residents and put together a “new neighbor” packet that has some helpful tips and resources for new community member. Info on parking, trash collection, recycling, and more can be great when you roll out the welcome wagon, especially if you can hand it out up front to avoid confusion and potential issues. Some basic info and a gentle reminder here and there can help avoid longtime feuds and disputes that are disproportionate to their cause.