Welcome to the Neighborhood

When we first moved into our house twelve years ago, we were shocked by how friendly and welcoming our new neighbors were. We figured it would be like Brooklyn — we’d meet our fellow apartment dwellers eventually, after running into them enough times in the lobby’s mail station, or taking a minute to ask what kind of breed their dog was while riding the elevator. In our suburban hood, we soon found out, our new neighbors took a more active approach. Seth, down the street, showed up on our doorstep with his son and a basket of apples from the local farmer’s market. (Every Saturday from 9:00 to 12:00, he made sure we knew.) Lori, a mom of four (then ages 7 to 13) leaned over her fence when we were moving in the sofa and handed me a card with her cell phone on it (“Ask me anything, anytime,” she told me.) And Madeline, the mother of two middle schoolers across the street, knocked on the door with the most amazing thing: An index card, on which she had sketched the whole block, identifying which family lived in which house. She annotated with phone numbers, names and ages of kids, and little stars to indicate potential babysitters. I still have that index card, even though half of the information is no longer accurate. (Madeline’s house itself has turned over twice since then.) Apparently lives evolve just as quickly in the suburbs as they do in the city.

I was reminded of all this last month when I heard what my friend (and neighbor) Sue did for a few new families in her town. For starters she had a party to welcome them. If we are having a kindness contest, already, she has most of us beat there. But it’s the party favor that I feel the need to mention here on DALS — and what I think most of us might be able to handle: A bundle of local takeout menus tied up with a bow. (At least I’m picturing them tied up with a bow.)  Obviously, in the age of Seamless, anyone can access a list of local restaurant menus with a single click. But I love the idea of someone hand-picking her favorite spots for a newcomer, maybe even circling standout dishes, and in general reassuring a few urban ex-pats that decent pad thai does indeed exists outside the five boroughs of New York. (Don’t laugh: It’s a very legitimate concern.) How nice is that? What about you guys? What was the nicest thing you did for a new neighbor? Or that a new neighbor did for you?

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I moved into our house about a month before our wedding. We didn’t own a lawnmower yet, so mowing involved going to my future in-law’s house to borrow their mower. One day I ran home over lunch to make a quick sandwich. As I stood over the kitchen sink scarfing down my sandwich, I saw our retired neighbor mowing our backyard through the kitchen window. He’s since passed away, so I’ll never know if he did it because our grass was too long for his liking, or whether he just did it out of the kindness of his heart. Either way, I took over a peach cobbler for him and his wife that night.


This wasn’t something done by a neighbor, but by the previous owners of our home. The house was built in 1957 and they had lived there for 40 years. When we were at closing, they gave us two binders of service invoices from 1970-present, original owner’s manual for various items in the house (the dining room chandelier, the pool table that was a birthday gift for the husband in 1980, etc), so that we had a complete history of maintenance. They also sketched out some surrounding homes and labeled who lived there, how long they’d been there, which people had kids, which person would probably be first to come down and check on us to get introduced. Additionally, they gave us their new address and phone number, in case we had questions or concerns. And the nicest thing of all: in the middle of crying, Kitty hugged me and said she was so happy we were the people buying their home.


We just moved 2 weeks ago and the previous owners left us a similar binder–it’s already come in handy a couple times. They also left us a note, written on a paper plate, telling us they brought their two daughters home from the hospital to this house and telling us they hope we’d love the house as much as they had. Also, during the week of moving while we were in the midst of packing, our sweet (former) next door neighbor brought over food so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking–meatballs, sauce, and pasta all packed separately in throw-away containers.

Raising The Capable Student

That is a great idea. Every time we moved (and we have moved a bunch of times) I have to find the pizza place right away. Then I have to find the library. Once I can get a decent pizza and some books the new place begins to feel like home.


We were renting half of a two family house and had not been there a month when I began experimenting with cinnamon rolls (I baked for a restaurant at the time); my husband and I sampled each type as it came out of the oven, but for days I took the still hot leftovers upstairs to our new neighbors, who seemed pleased because they could smell them baking. :) Also, this is probably common in real estate but when we bought our first house, the realtor left a bottle of champagne in the fridge with a gift certificate for the local pizza place. And when we bought our last house, the previous owner had left a sketch of what perennials would come up where, which was nice :) (This is OT but any suggestions for how to break the ice in a neighborhood? I’m not a leader by nature but would love it if we all said more than “nice day, huh?” to each other).


Here are some questions I’m using as I get to know my new neighbors: How long have you lived here? What’s something or some place I have to try? Why’d you move here? How has the neighborhood changed since you’ve been here?


We moved onto a street that is busier than your average suburban street without sidewalks and is often used as a way to get from one major road to another. So we didn’t expect we’d be getting much of a neighborhood seeing as how there were only about 6 houses on our end. Our first day our neighbors brought us a homemade pie with a sweet note and a couple of months later our neighbor on the other side had a small get together so we could meet everyone. We feel so blessed to be where we are.

Andrea @ Chasing Strength

Living in the city I was very lucky to move into a close knit neighborhood with a small town feel that made me not miss ‘back home’ so much. The amount of neighborhood/volunteer run event that happen here is amazing. The take-out menus is such a cute idea to give a newcomer!

Libby Monaghan

That is so sweet!! I have never experienced kindness to this degree when it comes to moving but I love the scene of the neighbor handing you a card with her cell phone number on it. That is probably what I would do. But the take out menu idea? That’s supreme. Especially on move-in day, that’s something you’re going to need.


When we moved into our current rental (a house!), the sweet older man came over the first day and introduced himself and told us all about himself, and offered to lend us anything we needed. We have had a lot of incredibly unfriendly neighbors, so in a neighborhood we were warned was “kind of sketchy”, we were really glad to finally have nice and friendly neighbors. (Turns out “kind of sketchy” in this town means “working class and occasionally you might smell pot”, which is also a relief.)


I was slowly moving into my first house (by myself) on a cul de sac with a beautiful oak tree….right about the time it started dropping all of its leaves. After it had gotten about three inches high on my driveway my neighbor kindly blew them all into the yard one day while I was at work so I wouldn’t slip on them. My other neighbor also mowed (still does sometimes) my small front yard – shrugs off any thanks – says it gives him an excuse to be on his riding mower long enough to finish his beer!


Down the street from us lives a young family with three small children. Across the street from them lives a recently widowed older woman. (Both moved onto the street in the last 18 months.) The young family looks out for her and they have become good friends. Late today, I was walking my dog when I saw the older woman taking the Christmas lights off her friends’ hedges. After she said hello, she explained that the family had told her that they get home after dark and on the weekends have been so busy with their children that they haven’t had time to take down their decorations. She said that they are so kind to her and that they do so much, that doing this little task on an unusually pleasant January day was the least she could do. Walking home, I thought to myself that those two families have brought so much goodness to our little street in a very short time and we are all better neighbors now because of them.


We have a “neighborhood ambassador.” He’s the retired sentry of the block. He keeps a roster of everyone’s email and phone number and brought it to use when we moved in along with the loan of a folding table and chairs until the moving van made it. It was a lovely welcome and was only rivaled by the homemade egg rolls the neighbor across the street delivered. We hit the neighborhood jackpot!

Catherine Beaudet

I moved into my new place in March 2015. I had lived in the neighborhood since 1999, but kept to my parent’s shadows since they owned the house. No one really knew I existed. I knew the previous owner of my new place, a sweet older gentleman who left me so much stuff in this house that I hardly needed to furnish it. When I moved in, the two older women from in front made it a point to start snooping (I’m sure one or both had a crush on the previous owner) to try to find out as much about me as possible. They did this back in 1999 at the old place too for my folks so I already knew how to guard against them. I love this house and the neighbors (could do with a few less elephants tramping through their houses at 9PM, but small price) and I’m happy with the neighborhood. There a bit more violence now (the urban gangs are creeping in somewhat), but I still wouldn’t trade this place for anything.

Ronda Jones

Love that idea. It is sometimes the simple things like good take out that mean the most to others.


When we first moved into our apartment after we got married, we visited a church on a Sunday and moved in that following Monday. Someone from the church showed up with a plate of cookies, lemonade, paper towels, and toilet paper. It was so thoughtful, made us feel so welcome, and was great to have a snack (and TP!!!) during our move. I will never forget it!


Having had awful neighbors in three homes over 10 years, I had very low expectations when I bought my first condo four years ago. I thought it was incredibly nice that one neighbor stopped by. My parents were helping me set up my place while I was running an errand, so the neighbor talked to them for a while. (I later went by to say hello) What struck me though is that to this day, that neighbor asks about my parents, tells me how much she enjoyed talking to them, and asks me to say hello to them. Sometimes it’s the little things :-)

Thank you for this great post and ideas! I will have to start a trend by leaving treats for new neighbors.


The previous homeowners of our house hosted a little gathering to introduce us to our future neighbors after we finalized the paperwork of the sale. They provided cookies & ice cream. They also left all the manuals to the appliances and other house stuff in a neat little pile and contacts of their landscaper and other contractors they worked with. It was incredibly thoughtful, helpful, and welcoming of them: I wish they were our neighbors! But then I don’t know where we’d live =p


I see a few of my local favorites in there – including the By the Way Bakery!!!

When we moved into our new house (also from Brooklyn), our neighbor across the street brought us a box of cookies, and my husband promptly called her the wrong name (LOL), but we still got off on the right foot with her because I complimented her on her cat sweatshirt.

PS – I live one town over from you, and I’m waiting for my invite to your house for a BBQ (no, we don’t actually know each other! Is that weird and/or creepy? I hope not).


My family bought an old 4400 sf home five years ago, in a neighborhood of mostly single homes owned by older couples or families with young children. Renovation was lengthy and more often than not we worked late (german laws usually forbid that). We moved in after a year, and are still not 100% finished, but during this time no one ever argued about noise, delivery trucks etc., so we invited our neighbors to an “Open House” after moving in. We made coffee and cakes, and showed everyone around. It was seriously the best idea ever- people loved peeking into our apartments and we learned so many things that day. The house was build in 1910, and at first there used to be a bakery downstairs. While renovating we found a door leading nowhere in the basement. As we learned, there used to be an apartment under the garden where the family that owned the bakery hid jews during WW2. We also learned about the families that lived here over the years, and even found a photograph, hidden behind a wall, from the family that build the house. We heard so many stories that day, and it really made us feel like now we belong here ( since now were in on all the secrets and stories ;) ). We feel like part of the neighborhood and community now, and that makes the house even more a home.


I have been compiling that “manual” since the day we moved in with our then 3 and 9 y/o boys. 11 years later and we are looking at selling in about 4-5 years. That binder will hopefully be a Godsend. My hubs laughed at my Type A behaviour in making the binder….I am send him the link to this post lol

Our neighbours have been great in our *family home*. We wouldn’t be anywhere else to raise the boys.


My 1906 Victorian was last used as a chop shop and then rented to some prison buddies of the former owner after his lifestyle caught of with him, it took the neighbors months to warm up! I knew I was “in” when one particular neighbor said I was “probably okay” after she saw me mow the lawn for two months straight.


I long to live in a place that is as welcoming as the places you all have described. My neighborhood is just a place where people sleep in between coming and going to work. There are no other children for my kids to play with and the two times I’ve planned block parties or invited people over, while well received, were never reciprocated :(

MB@Bourbon and Brown Sugar

I want to live in your neighborhood! When we moved into a new home over the summer, not one neighbor came by to welcome us… so sad :( Next time anyone moves in, I’ll be the first person at the door with cake and take-out menus!


Love this. We, too, have wonderful neighbours up and down our little cul-de-sac. In fact, when our next-door neighbours moved in a couple of years after we moved into our home, THEY brought US food and treats as their move coincided with our brand new baby girl’s arrival! It makes me chuckle even now, several years later. We loved them for it and it was the start of something really great : )


Love this. I am dreaming to move to the country where people talk to each other for half an hour when they meet at the shop accidentally instead of turning their backs on you in the lifts)))

Carol S-B

When we moved into our house (25 years ago!) our across-the-street neighbor brought a frozen lasagne- straight into the oven it went! So kind, and a flexible meal to eat whenever we got hungry that day.
Our neighborhood is quite stable: but when someone moves in, I always take some homemade goodies (cupcakes, homemade timbits). it’s a fine line between welcoming and stalkery! I always say hi. We have a good neighborhood.

Kat G

A couple of months ago, I delivered homemade peach cobbler to my new neighbors. But what made the gesture extra nice is that I made sure to deliver it while it was still warm from the oven, AND I remembered the ice cream. Also, I didn’t eat any of it first, you guys.


I love these neighbor welcoming ideas, especially the personalized take out menus, and laughed out loud about the (legitimate) concern that one might not find a decent pad thai outside the 5 boroughs. Great post!


In my old apartment building, a couple moved into the apartment across the hall and the wife baked up a bunch of small chocolate cakes and brought them to her neighbors. I was stunned. This is New England. We’re grumpy. They were from Florida. That was over 10 years ago and even though, they’ve moved back to Florida, she’s still one of my best friends…


Love this post, and idea! We just moved and it has made me even more aware of how amazing our old neighborhood was! Our next door neighbor brought over homemade jam a few days after we moved in, and as time went on took the time to chat with us and invite us to activities in their home. It would have been easy for them to just be polite but not extend themselves, but instead we ended up celebrating birthdays, graduations, and even some holidays together. We were honored to help with the funeral of our neighbor’s mother, and share in many other highs and lows that life brings. This family has been a great example of what can happen when you go the extra mile- who knows what friendships are waiting to be discovered!