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It’s no secret that New Yorkers have an unfortunate (and undeserved) reputation for being unfriendly. Many people spend years living in the same building without learning another’s names. This anonymous state of affairs can break the ice and make some neighbor introductions appear problematic and intimidating. Yet it needn’t be.
Whether you’ve just moved in or shared the building with the same people for years, it’s all the same. Someone has to make the first step, so why not put yourself out there? Who knows, you may even make a friend for life. Here are five creative and easy ways to meet your neighbors in NYC.
Be a proactive NeighborBe a proactive Neighbor
This is hardly groundbreaking, but sometimes the most basic methods are ignored. A friendly smile and greeting at the entrance or hallway can be enough to put people at ease. This allows you to become a familiar face and makes it easier to talk with them the next time you meet.
One resident in Cobble Hill made the rather audacious step of going out and meeting everyone in his building. He knocked on every door on every floor and introduced himself. There were several no-shows, busy people, and those with little interest in talking. Eventually, though, he met some genuine people we were pleased to meet and invited him back (he also learned why those on the second floor wouldn’t talk to him).
Throw a block partyThrow a block party
What better way to bring everyone together than to organize a block party. You need to get a permit from the city, spread the word, and get planning. It will help a lot if you already know one or two other people in the building who can help organize and inform you of whether or not they feel the other residents would be receptive to the idea. You won’t know unless you try.
Make a little free library.Make a little free library.
If reading is a favorite pastime, this can be a great way to discover if others in the building share your passion. You could even take it a step further and sign the back pages of a favored book with your name and apartment number. This might even lead to a book club being formed.
Arrange a playdateArrange a playdate
Kids are a great way to break the ice. Scope out the building and ask about an informal playdate if you notice a neighbor with kids of similar age to yours. If the parent(s) isn’t busy or feels uncomfortable leaving their child with a stranger, insist that they join. An hour or two of coffee and chit-chat while the kid’s play can be enough to cement a lifelong acquaintance.
Organize a potluckOrganize a potluck
If you have the space for it, offer to host a potluck at your apartment. If not, then there’s always the nearest public park. Food lovers in the building will be interested in contributing their signature dish. The key to a successful potluck is not the food but the organization. As the host, you’ll need to be a little dictatorial in assigning dishes so there are no duplicates. What’s great about this option is that the food serves as an icebreaker, making conversation among everyone much easier.