One tricky part about living on your own–especially if you spent the last few years in communal dorms or on a college campus–is figuring out how to make friends nearby. In my experience, you see your neighbors often! Whether it’s walking to and from cars before and after work, taking out the trash, or at the pool it’s not like you can avoid all of them. This creates lots of opportunities to meet people who live near you and to form new relationships.
At first, I wasn’t interested in forging relationships with any of the people near me. But as time wore by, I realized…why not? Along with meeting new and interesting people, getting to know my neighbors would only increase my sense of security and community.
Here’s what we did.
Any time we saw neighbors walking around, Matt and I made a conscious point to say hello. We introduced ourselves (and our puppy), asked about them, and often held conversation for a few minutes. You have one major thing in common with all of your neighbors: You live in the same place! Ask how they like the complex or how long they’ve lived there. We also tried to get involved in activities that our complex provided (a pool party and ice cream social). Easy!
What happened next was really cool. Our next-door neighbor asked to borrow our WiFi code for a week while his was down in exchange for a discount at the high-end retail store where he works. (And yes, we did change the password after a week just in case). Another neighbor let us in on some apartment complex drama that we had totally missed. Another introduced us to her mom and asks about our dog every day. After meeting our upstairs neighbors, we became much less frustrated with the banging we heard on their floor from time to time when we learned that she has a toddler learning to walk! Sure, one neighbor got evicted and left a ton of his things in the parking lot in the middle of the night, but they can’t all be good eggs.
The point here? There’s not much to lose by being friendly–aside from losing feelings of isolation. I used to feel uncomfortable being in our apartment alone because I had no idea if our neighbors were crazy or not. Getting to know them has eliminated that fear and really increased my comfort with the whole situation. I know if I need any sugar, I can ask the nice lady across the way. If I ever go to shop at that big name store, I know who to ask for advice.
Try it out this week. Start small–say hi as you pass by instead of looking at your phone. From there, work to get to know the people around you. They are your neighbors, after all.