Reaching out to neighbors no matter when you moved in can increase your happiness–don’t let time get in the way of making new connections.
For most people, when you move into a new neighborhood there is that freshness and anticipation of getting to know your neighbors. When we were planning to move from AZ to Orange County in 2011, I had visions of sharing margaritas with my new neighbors on the porch, getting invited to Bunko parties and chatting about the latest with my neighbors when we met up at the mail box.
This is the kind of neighborhood I came from when we lived in Arizona. A neighborhood where there was a neighborhood directory, monthly Bunko parties, twice annual block parties and events planned when someone moved out or celebrated a big birthday. I look back at that now with such fond memories and so much gratitude because I know you don’t find that in every neighborhood in America.
But our family was also in a different place back then and this time when we moved into our new Orange County neighborhood, we had just gone through one of the most challenging periods for our family. It colored how we looked at life and the thought of reaching out to people we didn’t know seemed overwhelming at the time. All we could do was to retreat to our home and heal from it all.
Flash forward 18 months later and we are happy and settled into our new surroundings and things seem more routine but in a good way. And while I did have an opportunity to get to know a few neighbors through my girls’ friends or the ones who lived right next to us, there were some neighbors like the ones across the street who we never got a chance to meet.
Sure we waved to them and said hello but we didn’t get to know them like my daughter did since she knew their son and attended social events at their home. My husband and I instead were cocooning in our home on the weekends.
Never too late to meet Your neighbors
But this past month we were invited to their wedding shower that was at another neighbor’s home (who we knew well) and while I felt awkward to attend after not getting to know them up until that point, this couple could not have been more welcoming and delightful. They came by the following weekend with a thank you note for our gift and treats and we got to know them even better. We liked them a lot and I felt bad that it took so long but I realized that it is never too late to get to know your neighbors.
It sparked a desire in me to facilitate a neighborhood potluck over the summer and some of the other neighbors we met at the party seemed right on board with the idea!
Plan ways to connect that work for your neighborhood
Just because we don’t have a built-in structure to get to know our neighbors like the neighborhood I came from doesn’t mean we can’t set up our own version of one in the neighborhood we are in now. In fact, I also found a great resource called Meet the Neighbors. I found a cute post on ways to connect with your neighbors by pachamama.org. Other than extreme cases, I think knowing your neighbors on some level increases our happiness and makes us feel more connected in the world and that is definitely a good thing!
Photo from pachamama.org