Ask homeowners what builds value in their homes and they likely will name things like kitchen upgrades, a new deck or other hard assets. What may not come to mind as readily is the value of having great neighbors. Yet having a harmonious neighborhood pays off in personal satisfaction and ultimately can be a selling point. So how do you build a great community?
Be intentional. Building good community relations takes effort. It’s easy to come home from work, pull into your garage, shut the door and stay in your own world. Why not? You’re beat from a hard day of work. But this can lead to people hardly knowing the people next door.
Build a great community means making the effort to meet and get to know one another. This effort brings real friendships that often last long after some move away. Such neighbors celebrate life events, or support each other when there is a serious illness or death. Parties and mixers build bonds. You may feel awkward at first, but it gets easier.
Be proactive. Start by meeting the people in each house adjacent to your own, front, back and sides. Ask about them, their kids and their work, what they do for relaxation and more. Just by doing this, you’ll be ahead of most.
Social media. Create a neighborhood Facebook page and spread the word about it. Set it up as a closed page for announcing events, asking for help, and seeking referrals on home services. Moderators must be sure to maintain a positive environment or risk it becoming nothing but a gripe page.
Establish a hospitality committee. Identify the folks who are natural-born socializers and encourage them to be the spark plug for community events and gatherings.
Dogs as conversation starters. As you walk your dog and meet other dog walkers, stop and visit, using your common love of dogs as a conversation starter. As you see people out in their yards, stop and say hello. You could even go so far as hosting a dog party for neighbors. Make sure everyone brings clean-up bags to tidy up after their dogs.
Host fun events. Get together with other neighbors, rent a projection screen and equipment and have a “movie night” in someone’s backyard. Everyone brings a dish and beverages, their lawn chairs and blankets. It’s a blast.
Or have a neighborhood chili cook-off. Neighbors bring their own secret chili recipes. Sample cups of chili, numbered instead of naming the cook, and vote for your favorites. Top three entries win a prize. This can become an annual event with a little friendly competition.
Start weekly or monthly clubs. Playgroups for parents with kids, book clubs, coupon swaps, Bunco groups, and card game groups are all examples that bring together neighbors with common interests.
Have each other’s backs. A crucial part of a great neighborhood is being there for one another in times of need. When someone falls ill, a young mother has a baby or when an elderly parent dies, it’s so meaningful to know neighbors will pitch in with meals, help with yard work or just be there to listen.
Reducing friction. When neighbors don’t get along, which inevitably happens, it’s harder to be angry with someone you know and like.