You have finally unpacked (almost) all your boxes and finally (almost) settled in. Now is the time to really start to get to know your neighborhood. Making time to discover everything your community has to offer is important not only because it helps you learn where to shop, socialize and meet people, but it also helps build a feeling of community pride. You just bought a home! Let's get you ready to start boasting about where you choose to call home! You can make your neighborhood your favorite new stomping ground.
Get To Know Your Neighbors:
The people who live around you are a big part of what defines your community. Meeting your neighbors provides you with an opportunity to ask questions about your new neighborhood and possibly discover some hidden gems (or worthwhile information) you might have missed otherwise. As for how to do it, follow the golden rule, which is that a little friendliness goes a long way. Smile and say “hello” to neighbors who you come across, ask some light but engaging questions, and build rapport over time. Having a friendly acquaintanceship with your neighbors will help you feel more established in your new place, and could lead to additional prospects for getting involved.
Walk Around Like a Tourist:
The most simple piece of advice is also one of the most effective. If you want to know what your neighborhood has to offer, go see it for yourself. Going for a walk is a great de-stressor during or after the unpacking process, and will allow you to better visualize your surrounding area. If you’re not much of a “go out for a walk” type of person, give your stroll a purpose and walk down to a nearby coffee shop for a pick-me-upper or to the hardware store to make some copies of your new keys. If you have a dog to walk, even better, as they like to stop and see everything! You don’t have to live in a touristy city to approach your new neighborhood from a tourist’s perspective. Just think about what someone traveling to your neighborhood might seek out, like a museum, local attractions and theater, top rated restaurants, and check those things out for yourself. Usually the things that draw tourists do so for a reason, so go see what all the fuss is about. You don’t have to do it all in one day, but keep a list of nearby places you want to visit and follow through as you can. Apps like Scavengerhunt.com are offered in many cities and are fun for the whole family!
Shop Locally: You can find a big box store anywhere you move, but that little mom and pop shop on the corner is something you’ll only find right where you live. Shopping locally helps you support your community and what makes it unique. Local businesses bring local flavor to their environments, and the restaurants and shops that also call your neighborhood home can tell you a story about what’s important there and what brings people together. Even if you’re not quite ready to ditch online shopping for your basic necessities, make the diner down the street your new go-to breakfast spot or buy your wine from the corner shop instead of the grocery store. It’s a great way to engage with your neighborhood while bolstering it at the same time.
Check Out Local Events: Use of social media will allow you to check out local clubs and meetups. Find other people who have similar interests and spend time with them. Facebook and Meetup are just a few of many social media groups where you can connect with your neighborhood. Apps like these can help you find childcare, where and when local events are happening and provide recommendations. Whether it be a book club, hiking, biking or walking group or a dog park gathering, hanging out at neighborhood places will not only give you opportunities to get to know your neighborhood better, but also make you feel like a part of the neighborhood.
Ask For Recommendations:
Take a short cut to discovering the best of the best in your new neighborhood by asking for recommendations from people who are already "in the know". If your job is local, ask your co-workers for recommendations on where to get your car fixed, get your hair cut or hear some great live music! If you don’t know anybody you can ask, use a site like Nextdoor, which is basically a forum for individuals in communities to share information, ask advice, and get recommendations for new things to try.
Community Involvement: Volunteering in your neighborhood is a great way to feel connected and meet people with similar interests. There are so many ways to give back to your community: volunteering in the schools, helping at an animal shelter, cultivating a community garden, raising money for a common cause, are just a few. Once you are settled in, start looking for ways to both better yourself and your new home through helping others.
Mr. Rogers was all about neighborhoods. Once you learn all about yours, you can be a great neighbor by supporting local businesses, getting involved in positive ways to help your neighborhood, and welcome others by being a tour guide in your own community! It's a beautiful day in your neighborhood, indeed.