Moving to a new neighborhood? Here’s how to find your new community.
Buying a new house isn’t just about financing, inspections, and closing costs. Moving to a new town means building a new social network from the ground up. It means becoming a part of a new community! This can be daunting!
It might be tempting to hide out in your lovely new home and wait for people to drop by with a plate of cookies and advice on which septic company to use, but there are several ways to get the ball rolling when it comes to making yourself at home in your new town. And making new friends isn’t just a good way to become a part of a community—it might even help you live a longer, healthier life, according to research.
By reaching out to your new neighbors and townspeople, you make it known that you are ready to be a productive member of your community, that the investment you just made isn’t simply in the house you bought. You are also investing in the town around you. Making your community a priority in the first few months at your new place will help you settle in and start putting down roots.
Here are 5 first steps you can take to become a thriving member of your new community.
Visit the library. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been waiting to check out books and have overheard a person new to town request a library card. Not only do they meet the librarian and all the assistants working that day (who all come over to say hello), they are also often given a personalized account of the history of the house they’ve bought, an invitation to join the reading group/knitting circle/town improvement society, and a calendar of community events. If you have small children, a visit to the library is even more important—find out when storytime happens!
Join the listserv. These days, most towns have the electronic version of the local bulletin board where everyone posts items for sale, yard sale dates, missing pets, and wants ads. Listservs have the added advantage of immediacy. For example, when someone loses power, they often start an email thread about street outages and expected times of service. And if you move to a place with a large bear population, it’s a very useful way to know where the bears are hanging out these days—residents love to post bear sightings! Through the local listserv, you’ll get to know all sorts of things, from who the characters are around your new town to useful tips about where to find wild asparagus.
Get involved. There is no better way to meet people than to volunteer to help make your new town a better place. Find out what people are doing to help by asking at the library and on the listserv or read the volunteer listings in the local newspaper to find something you’re passionate about. Like kids? Local public schools are often looking for volunteers. Love animals? Check the local humane society. The people you meet will share your interests and will certainly be thrilled about another pair of hands contributing to the cause!
Attend a performance, festival, or lecture. Many towns offer a plethora of events all year long. Check local listings and notices for upcoming concerts, fairs, or talks in your area. Your town’s historical society might sponsor public events or maybe a local nonprofit group sponsors a monthly potluck contra dance. Find out and sign up!
Introduce yourself at the local hardware store. Here in New England, the heart of every village, no matter how big a village it might be, is the hardware store. This is where you go for nails, advice, a rake, chicken feed, seeds, insect repellent, and conversation. Just about everyone finds themselves in need of a hammer and a nail at some point in their lives, and the people who work at the hardware store meet just about everyone. Make sure you’re one of them.