1. Make the first move
It can be intimidating to approach a new next-door neighbor and introduce yourself. However, your new neighbors might be equally hesitant to disturb your family, especially if you seem busy moving boxes and unpacking.
So, take the initiative and look for an opportunity when the neighbors don’t look rushed or preoccupied. A wave or hello can open the door without being intrusive, and a simple question about the trash pickup schedule on the block or what local grocery store someone recommends is an easy conversation starter.
2. Be approachable
Create chances for others to welcome you by sitting on the front porch and taking leisurely walks. Or just focus on being approachable—slow down on the way to your car every morning and put on a happy face upon returning from work every evening.
The same rule applies when you’re out and about in the community. Choose a bar seat instead of a corner table at the local restaurant and take the kids to a nearby playground or park, and always be sure to make eye contact, smile and say hello to those around you.
3. Check out the local haunts
Do as the locals do and frequent a local restaurant, farmers market or shop. If you have a dog, dog parks practically require you and your pet to make new friends. Before you know it, one of these local hangouts will become a place where at least a few people know your name.
4. Get involved
Meet like-minded people by participating in activities that are meaningful to you. Check with local schools and universities, park districts, recreation commissions, sports organizations and neighbors to find the right fit.
Donating your time to community organizations that improve the neighborhood by cleaning up trash, helping other residents or clearing park trails also will help you meet people and get to know the neighborhood. Parents, of course, have many ready-made outlets for making new friends, such as volunteering at the school, getting involved in carpools and hosting playdates or a Halloween party for the kids on the block.
5. Use your network
Take advantage of organized programs that can help you meet others in your new community. If you were active in a church or place of worship in your previous home, ask for a referral to a similar establishment. Many employers offer programs that connect newly relocated workers with longtime residents.
Most colleges and universities also have local alumni chapters. And don’t forget to mine your online networks. Ask Facebook friends if they know anyone in your new town, or search sites such as Meetup.com to find others with similar interests.