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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Community Connections - Building Relationships in a New Area

When I first got married and moved to a new community, you have no idea how lonely I was. Not only was I starting off in a place where I didn't know anyone, the fact that I was living in an area with predominantly non English speakers made it even worse. I remember telling my husband then that I wanted to move back to the USA, or at least to a city with a higher percentage of English speakers, since I was so miserable and lonely.
Slowly, I started breaking my way into the community, and then eventually moved to the community next door, where I'd already known people because of my time in the first community. I love my community and I know how hard it is to be a newbie somewhere, and I love that my community has regular get togethers, especially when we hear a lot of new English speakers just moved in. In fact, one of these get togethers is where I served the sangria whose recipe I am sharing in my next post. Additionally, when we bought a house as part of a building project, we moved in around the holidays together with another large group of people. One of the great neighbors brought holiday treats over and knocked on each of the families' doors offering baked goods and to introduce themselves and foster a sense of community
If you aren't as lucky as the people in my community, if you don't have a built in way to meet new people the way we have in ours, here's some ideas from reader Lauren on how to meet people and create friendships when you're new to an area.


So, you have just moved or are about to move house? Not only will this likely be quite a busy endeavour (booking removalists, packing boxes, redirecting mail etc.) but, it will also mean acclimatising to a brand new environment, far removed from what you are so familiar with.

However, whether you are moving internationally, interstate, or even just to the next suburb… there are some easy ways to get you established in your ‘new hood’ and build some key community connections. Here’s a guide to building relationships in a new area.


Greet your new neighbours

When you are moving it can be a stressful time, so it can be easy to overlook the ‘niceties’ when you are feeling bothered and tired. But, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so it’s always a good idea to take a little time out to meet and greet the neighbours properly. After all, you will be living next to them for the foreseeable future!

Take the advice of these removalists in Melbourne and consider the right etiquette in reaching out for the first time. You don’t have to go as far freshly made cookies, it’s often enough to just offer a simple and friendly ‘hi’!

Join a hobby group

Making friends in a new neighbourhood can sometimes be easier said than done. You often have to ‘find an in’ in order to get acquainted with like minded people in your community. One great way of achieving this is to join a hobby group.

You might find there are specific groups already set up in your community that may pique your interest (check out local notice board or search online), such as sporting leagues, a community gardening initiative, book clubs/art classes etc. The possibilities really are endless. That way, you get to foster new friendships and learn something, all at once!

Get involved as a volunteer

Volunteering is the perfect way to ‘give back’ whilst building strong new relationships in your community. You will get to meet passionate and dedicated people in the process of spending a little bit of your time making a difference in the world.

For example, you may want to get involved in land conservation, disability or aged care support, literacy for children or fundraising/events. Of course, the list in non-exhaustive. It is easy to find something that suits your particular interests and availability. Conducting a search for volunteering opportunities is straightforward, and the results sound so rewarding!

Host a block party

This would have to be ‘up there’ as one of the most enjoyable ways to get to know your neighbours. There’s always something of a sentimental and nostalgic quality to a block party, where the entire neighbourhood comes together as one. Finding the nearest cul-de-sac in your area is always a great starting point. And, of course you will likely need to get a permit.

Other than that, it’s about organising your block party and rallying support to get everyone involved (try handing out some flyers, setting up a facebook group etc.). To cut costs you could suggest everyone bring a dish of food. Activities like volleyball, badminton and even croquet/traditional egg and spoon races prove to be ‘crowd pleasers’.

Making new friends in your area

It’s always a great idea to go to the effort to ‘reach out’ when you are new to an area. Sometimes, it can be a simple as a kind word and conversation with an elderly resident down the street, or inviting the neighbours over for some tea or coffee.

Making community connections are all about getting involved with the issues that matter to your region. Take a little time to ‘get the gist’ for what you new neighbourhood is all about (what do the people here value/care about) and consider ‘pitching in’ to make yourself an integral part of the cohesive whole. In this way, you will find yourself ‘a pillar of the community’ in almost no time at all!

When you move to a new community, what do you do to try to find people and make friends there?

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