Whatever happened to the days of neighbours becoming good friends? With so many of us working long hours, ferrying the kids to and from school, studying, commuting, going to appointments or a million other things, it can be difficult to prioritise ‘getting to know the neighbours’. We’ve come up with a few little tips to help you get to know the folks next door.
Neighbours love cake!
If a new family has just moved in nearby, go and introduce yourself! Bring over a pie and you might just get one back at a later stage. Offer to help them unpack or even cook a meal and take it over at the end of the day. Moving to a new neighbourhood can be daunting for many people, and most will truly appreciate a friendly face welcoming them to the street.
Lend a hand
Offering to help a neighbour with a DIY project can be a great way to spend some time together and get to know them better. Or perhaps you have a neighbour who’s elderly or ill, and needs a tradesman to do some professional work. Help them out by offering to find a tradie for them – post a job request through OneFlare and get free quotes from business that work in your area. They have listed businesses covering everything from carpet cleaning to computer repairs.
Whether it’s a regular commitment, such as helping with Meals on Wheels or at a local op shop, or lending an occasional hand at something like a Christmas Day meal service, volunteering is a great way to spend time with people from your area, and help others at the same time. You can find out about a wide range of opportunities in your area at govolunteer.com.au
National Volunteer Week in May each year recognises the generosity of the more than 6 million Australians volunteer their time in many different ways.
Don't forget to say hello
It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking the bins out, getting the mail or taking the dog for a walk — if you see your neighbours out and about in the street, say hello! Give them a smile or a wave, introduce yourself and initiate a casual chat. Even the most basic small talk can often lay the foundations for a better relationship with your neighbours.
Greet or meet your Nabo neighbours
It’s always nice to feel welcome, in real life and online. If you’ve verified your address with Nabo, you’ll be able to see when people in your street or area join Nabo, and welcome them just as you would if you saw them moving in next door. Nabo asks new members to verify their address to make sure that Nabo remains a secure space where you can feel comfortable knowing that the people you meet on Nabo are local residents in real life, too. Interacting with people within Nabo can also be a great first step to meeting up in real life – keep an eye on the Nabo Groups page for your area to see if there are interest groups that meet up, like a walking group or book club, or post in your suburb hub to see if others might be interested in organising a meet-up.
Share babysitting duties and organise a play date
Organising a play date with the family down the road can be a great way to break the ice and get to know some of the other parents in the area. Having a network of friendly parents within the neighbourhood to help keep an eye on the kids and can also provide an emergency babysitter in times of need.
Host a barbecue
No one can pass up a good barbie! A backyard gathering allows people to get to know each other in a relaxed and easy-going environment and it’s great for the kids too. Door-knock, distribute flyers in letterboxes or use social media sites to invite the whole neighbourhood. Encourage everyone to bring a plate of food and some drinks — the more the merrier!
Keep your neighbours up with a street party
Street parties are a fantastic way to really establish a sense of community. Gather your neighbours, get some music going, fire up the barbecues, roll out the eskies and get everyone to bring some platters of food. The kids will have the chance to play with other neighbourhood children and you can meet that friendly couple across the way. It may even become an annual tradition!
Start or join a local fitness group
A walk or jog around the block can be a great way to meet those around you. Say hello to those you pass and if you already know them, why not stop for a chat? Dogs can be fantastic conversation starters, so next time you go for your afternoon stroll through the neighbourhood, bring your pooch along too! You could even start a local exercise group and invite like-minded neighbours to join in.
Join a club
Whether it’s a group with a common hobby, a social club like Probus or a national organisation like the CWA, joining a club is a great way to meet people in your area. Your council, local library or noticeboards in shopping centres, and Nabo’s groups page for your area, can all be good places to find out what’s around.