Hello there! Today I want to talk about being neighborly.
People as a whole aren’t as involved in their neighborhoods as they were when I was growing up, and I find that to be a terrible thing indeed. There are many advantages to knowing your neighbors.
Neighbors are not only people that are close to you, but they are also a sort of support system. Neighbors can provide you with additional home security. They are right there and can help keep an eye on your home when you are not around. This is especially helpful if you go out of town. They can pick up your mail, watch for deliveries, and even catch prowlers in the act. They can also be counted on to alert you if something goes wrong while you are away.
Neighbors can become lifelong friends or even, a sort of extended family if the relationship is cultivated properly. Your neighborhood is a small society of individuals with a common purpose; a safe, secure and comfortable life. Even if you think you don’t have a lot in common with the people on your street or in your building, you have this one thing, and it’s a big thing. Knowing and being friendly with those that live in close proximity to you can make or break your peaceful life.
Here are some tips to get to know your neighbors.
- Make the first move. Knock on their door and introduce yourself with a smile and let them know you have just moved in, and what a pleasure it is to meet them. If you are uncomfortable doing this, maybe just make it a point to wave at them when you see them and give them a smile. Smiles are contagious! When we first moved into the home we currently live in, our neighbors seemed a little leery of us. We were very different from the other people on our block. I am tattooed, he has long hair, we have no children, and my husband’s rock band rehearses in our home. The woman on the left of us was pregnant and seemed a little annoyed with us from the get-go. On New Year’s Eve, about four months after we had moved in, I finally decided I was going to make one more go of it. She looked like she was due any day, so I went to the store, picked up a few small inexpensive baby items, baked some cookies, and left a little care package at her door, with a small note saying “Happy New Year, from your neighbors, Kat and Ken” and printed our address at the bottom. A few days later, she came over for a chat. When she had her baby, she invited me over for drinks. Fast forward two years and we are close friends, even a kind of little family, her newest daughter Lyric is my husband’s Goddaughter, her other daughter is an angel and very dear to us, inviting us to her basketball games and birthdays and coming over to say hello from time to time. That woman has become my closest female friend in Kansas City. Even after she moved to a different house a few months ago, we talk every day, and get together for drinks often, and call each other sister.
- Attend a neighborhood watch meeting. Find out if your neighborhood has a watch program or a safety group. If they do, attend a meeting. Introduce yourself, and get involved!
- Check out your neighborhood church. If you are religious, visit your neighborhood church. Even if you don’t want to change your place of worship, your local church is a good way to get to know your neighbors and let them know that you are interested in your community and your street. You never know, you may just find a new home, and if not, you may find a spiritual connection with the people around you.
- Attend a block party or neighborhood festival. Events like this are commonplace in larger cities and happen often during warmer months, there is usually information about things like this online, at churches, and at community centers. Many times volunteers will flyer neighborhoods as well to let everyone know of local events, so be on the lookout for door flyers and notices at local stores. These are great ways to get to know your neighbors, and they are fun for the whole family!
- Hire a neighbor’s child to mow your lawn or help you pull weeds. During the summertime neighborhood kids and teens may be looking for a way to make some spending money. In my neighborhood, many come around from time to time offering to help with chores. If you have a chance to do this, it could be a great way to help a child learn some positive work habits and money management, and you will almost always meet their parents if you give them a few dollars to help you with something around the yard. Keep in mind with this though, unless you already know their parents, it is probably best to keep this restricted to outdoor chores, it isn’t advisable to invite any stranger into your home, especially an unattended minor. And request the permission of their parents before allowing them to do any work in or around your home. SAFETY FIRST!
These are just a few things you can do to cultivate relationships with your neighbors, there are many more, just be creative and do what feels comfortable to you and your lifestyle.
Sometimes, your neighbors come to you. I’ll relate a story of something that happened to us just the other day.
We just had a terrible snow storm here in Missouri. We got a lot of wet, heavy snow dumped on us overnight, and the roads were pretty terrible. My car got stuck about 10 feet from the driveway in the street. A neighbor from about a block away that I have never met before came to our aid. First, helping us to start shoveling around the car in an effort to free it, and eventually, walking all the way back to his home, digging out his own truck, helping us clear snow in a path from the car to the driveway, and then using his truck to push us into the cleared area so we could get into our drive. He spent at least an hour out in the wet, cold, falling snow, helping us before going back to his own home to dig himself and his wife out.
When a neighbor does something like this for you when they have never even met you, it is important to do whatever you can to show your gratitude and to be a good neighbor in return. Ken followed him back to his home, helped him with the tasks he had there, and today, I put together a care package for him and his wife as a thank you. I found a rope basket at Target for $5 and filled it with a bag of coffee from Trader Joe’s ($3.99) a box of Tazo Tea ($3.50), and two coordinating coffee mugs ($1/ea). Finishing with a thank you card, I spent only about $15, but I feel that it shows our thanks and returns the thoughtfulness that this stranger showed when we were having trouble. Always return a kind gesture with another one, and always try to pay it forward.
How did you get to know your neighbors? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Thanks for reading!