Building Community: 5 Great Ways to Meet Your Neighbors
It’s been only a few weeks since I made the big move south to Atlanta and meeting new people and making friends with the neighbors is very high on my list of things to do. I’ve just moved from a city I love, where I had a circle of friends who lived within 5 blocks, so to put it bluntly, I’m having a difficult time adjusting.
I’m struggling with making new friends and meeting my neighbors. I don’t know whether it’s the fact that I’m a Northern transplant who doesn’t drink all that much Coca Cola, or if it’s just harder to make friends here when you’re in your thirties without kids… but meeting the neighbors and making new friends is becoming quite the herculean task. I have had a few small successes, though, and here’s what’s worked for me so far. If you’ve also faced a similar situation, I’d love to read in the comments about what’s worked for you!
- Talk to People. This might seem simple, but coming from a city where it’s odd for a stranger to strike up a conversation unless they are selling something, asking for directions, or hitting on you, I have to really force this one. I’m not suggesting that you randomly chat people up, but if you’re in your elevator and you think your neighbor has a cute dog, tell them. Along these lines, if your neighbor is lifting something bulky, offer to help. Maybe you’ll even be able to exchange names!
- Don’t Shy Away From Common Spaces. My new building has a few common areas where residents can relax outdoors. One of these areas has a place for playing bocce. Due to not having anywhere to sit in my apartment thanks to my furniture delivery getting delayed, I started spending more time working on my laptop in the common outdoor space, and lo and behold I got to meet a neighbor and received an invite to play bocce. While my natural tendency is to spend time in my apartment, I have to remember that I need to be the “anti-reality show person,” being that “I’m here to make friends,” and making friends involves being in places where you have the opportunity to actually meet other people.
- Festivals & Block Events. A no-brainer way to get to know your neighbors is by attending local events that celebrate the neighborhood or block. It can feel a bit awkward to go to these alone, but well worth it if you get to meet a few potential pals.
- Meetups. Although I have not tried these in my new city yet, I used to belong to a few different Meetup groups that aligned with my interests back home. These groups helped me to meet other similarly minded people, and some were even neighborhood and block centric.
- Cultural Memberships. Back home, or I guess I should say back in my former home, I was a member at several cultural institutions. I like to patronize the arts as well as attend the member-only events, and have made several friends at these. While Atlanta doesn’t quite have the same number of cultural institutions, it is not a city that lacks them, and so within a week of moving here I became a member at a few of them. I’m hoping that these institutions will have events similar to the ones in NYC, and hopefully at these events new friends will be made!
Of course one could mention knocking on your neighbors’ doors and introducing yourself, but that feels really awkward and invasive to me. Am I wrong in this, and am I missing out on a tried and true way of meeting new neighbor friends? What’s worked for you?
(Image: Adrienne Breaux / Kristen & Michelle’s Modern Bohemian )