Moving to a new neighbourhood can be tough, but moving to a completely new city (in an entirely different province, for that matter) is obviously so much tougher. When work, family, or relationships require us to pack up our things, relocate, and put down roots in a city or town far from home, we have to do the hard work of building friendships all over again. And as adults with established histories, friendships, and professions, it’s often extremely difficult to reach out to strangers — once we reach a certain age, meeting new people and forming new adult bonds doesn’t come as naturally as it did when we were young.
Whether you’re renting a home in a cozy suburban neighbourhood or you’ve relocated to a massive high-rise in an urban metropolis, getting to know the people closest to you doesn’t have to be as scary or challenging as it might seem. In fact, your new neighbours will often be understandably curious about you — as a newcomer, they’ll want to know what kind of tenant you are (clean? conscientious? friendly?), and the more you recognize and acknowledge your floor or street-mates, the safer and happier everyone will feel.
For those reasons, we’ve compiled some effective tips to help you break the ice, feel welcome, start up some new relationships, and hopefully start making some new friends!
Have the Right Attitude. First off, you’ve got to embrace the idea of welcoming new friendships into your life. This means projecting a positive, friendly, and outgoing demeanor that others will naturally respond to. This is no time to close yourself off from making contact! If you’re living in a busy apartment building, remember to smile, make eye contact, and say hello to those you share the elevator, stairs, or lobby with. Obviously, you want to avoid seeming too friendly — creepy vibes will not win you new pals (or the right ones, anyway). But making small talk is a good way to break the ice, and gets you one step closer to learning about someone new.
When you meet a person for the first time, it’s okay to ask their name and maybe shake their hand — you can explain that you’re new to the area and interested in meeting your neighbours. A great way to initiate this conversation is to ask about the building: how long they’ve lived there, how they feel about the amenities or landlord, and other related questions. Part of the difficulty of making new friends as an adult is that we’re reluctant to admit that we do indeed want friends! So break this stigma by swallowing your fear and making the first move. Once you’re talking with someone, remember to be polite, maybe make a compliment (if it feels right), ask them questions, and really listen to their answers. People naturally enjoy talking about themselves, and the more you learn about your neighbours, the more you’ll be able to figure out who’s who and who’s receptive to new relationships.
One tried and true icebreaker is to bake some cookies or other sweet snacks, knock on your neighbours’ doors, and offer them — you can say you made up a whole batch for another function but ended up having extras. Some people might think this is weird, but that’s okay — others will absolutely love the gesture and either way, you’re meeting new people in the process.
Accept Invitations and Attend Events. If you’re asked to attend something — a dinner party, a casual drink, a game night, a cocktail party, or something similar — you should make every effort to show up (it’s often easier and more enticing to just curl up on the couch, but you’ve got to be proactive)! Try to say yes to any invitation you receive; otherwise, by saying no you might not get another invite. Obviously, use common sense, and never accept an invitation from someone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
Apartment buildings will routinely have flyers or posters advertising some event (a movie night or a meet and greet, for example) in the lobbies or elevators. Rather than ignore these, use them as a way to put faces to names and even find some people who share your interests and hobbies.
Be Visible. In an apartment building, being visible means actually spending time in communal areas — games rooms, patios, pools, gyms, entertainment rooms, and so forth. It also means spending time on your balcony. For those living in houses, this means spending more time on your front lawn (or on your porch) than in the back. Sit out with a cold drink in the summer or invest time in a garden project. The more you’re seen around the house, the more chances you’ll strike up a conversation with a passerby and make a new contact.
This also entails spending more time on walks or jogs nearby. Start being part of the scenery and people will naturally associate your presence with their home! Strolling and jogging are great ways to find like-minded people who might want to enjoy your hobby with you. Shopping in local establishments (and maybe even becoming a ‘regular’) will slowly but surely allow you to get to know other regulars, servers, bartenders, baristas, and shopkeepers. Adult friendships don’t happen over night, so take it slow and remember that becoming a real regular will take time!
Dogs and children make excellent ice-breakers, too. Parents of young children will immediately bond with others in the same boat, and the more moms and dads you know in your building or on your street will make finding a babysitter all the more convenient. Schedule a play-date or a trip to the park on a Saturday and start bonding with other young families. If you don’t have a human child, your four-legged companion will also do the trick! Rather than walk Fido alone, see who might be up for group dog walks or trips to the dog park (you can post a sign suggesting this if you aren’t comfortable asking strangers in person). As long as your dog likes other dogs, this boost of community will make your pet much happier, too!
Attract Friends to You! A yard or garage sale is also a fine way to make introductions seem easy. If you advertise your sale properly, you’ll have a slew of shoppers from all over the ’hood coming to you. Whenever you see some friendly folks, you can introduce yourself and ask about the neighbourhood, where they live, and how long they’ve been in the area. This is an ideal way to make some fast friends.
If you’re feeling brave, you can also host a move-in party. Use your yard sale to hand out invites to this casual affair, or you can go door to door in any neighbourhood or apartment building with hand-made invitations. Serve up some BBQ, cold drinks, and light snacks and keep the atmosphere casual and friendly. Even if you only get a handful of people, those are four or five more than you’d know otherwise, and you don’t have to spend too much money to do it!
At the end of the day, we’re here to make every part of moving locations and renting a home easier. After helping you find rental apartments all across Canada, we also want you to be comfortable and as happy as possible in your new digs. Keep checking our blog for more advice on finding neighbourhoods, renovating and decorating your space, and simply living better. While this particular list of helpful tips is by no means conclusive, it should inspire you to make the first move and start reaching out to those around you. No one wants to be lonely and isolated, so the first step toward finding a new community is to realize that you don’t have to be!