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Get to Know Your New Community

November 07, 2018

So, you’ve just moved to a new house in a new neighbourhood, city or town. Of course you have to get your home set up and organized, but don’t forget to take the time to explore your new community. One of the many benefits of living in a neighbourhood is that feeling of belonging. The trouble is, how do you get involved when you’re new and don’t know anyone?

Here are some suggestions:

Take a stroll

One of the best ways to get acquainted with your new community is to go for a walk. Get to know the residential area, plus the mixed-use and commercial corridors. Check out local parks, walking paths and streets. While you may have had an inkling about the neighbourhood when you were in the process of buying, hitting the pavement allows you to see things closely and explore the area in depth.

Be a tourist for a day

What do visitors do in your community? What local sites and landmarks are there? Be a tourist in your own community to get to know local culture, history and amusements. Doing this can really show you what makes your new home so special, and why others choose to visit.

Introduce yourself

Perhaps during your walk, you will come across some neighbours and members of your community. Don’t be shy about approaching them and introducing yourself.

A good ice breaker is to ask simple questions, such as “Where’s the best local coffee shop?” Or, “Where is the closest grocery store?” “What school do your kids go to?” The simplest engagement can lead to a new acquaintance or friend. This will be even more meaningful if you moved far away from friends and family. You can establish a new support system.

Host a gathering

Invite your neighbours to an open house or barbecue to get to know them. You could do it potluck-style and ask everyone to bring a dish, or have afternoon hors d’oeuvres, with tea and coffee. Put invitations in mailboxes, or knock on doors to invite neighbours in person. Try to ask for an RSVP so that you can get a rough idea of how many people will be attending.

Find a cause

Another great way to connect to your new neighbourhood is to volunteer or join a local organization. If there is a nearby community centre, find out if there any opportunities to help. You could join a local advocacy group or resident committee that will help fellow residents and shape the neighbourhood in a positive way.

This is a great way to meet like-minded individuals in your community. Even though you are new, you can still bring some new ideas and strategies to the table to make things better.

Say yes to invites

If a friendly neighbour asks if you want to meet up for coffee to chat, say yes. If you are invited to attend a community meeting, say yes. If a neighbour is having a party and asks you to drop in, say yes. Say yes to community and social events. You will meet new people, learn about local issues and find your place.

Be an engaged and active citizen in your new home, rather than an outsider.  

Shop local

One of the best ways to support your community is to shop locally. Is there a local bakery, butcher, cheese shop, clothing store, gift shop or home decor store in your neighbourhood? You don’t have to shop local exclusively, but it’s nice to buy some items from small businesses.

The same goes for restaurants, pubs and coffee shops. While chains might be convenient, try supporting a one-of-a-kind establishment instead. Who knows? You might discover your new favourite place!

Overall, moving to a new place is a lot less scary when you make a point of getting to know the community and get involved when possible.

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