It’s no secret that New Yorkers have the unfortunate (and undeserved) reputation for being unfriendly. Many people spend years living in the same building together without ever learning one another’s name. This anonymous state of affairs can make breaking the ice and making some introductions appear problematic and intimidating. Yet it needn’t be. Whether you’ve just moved in or have been sharing 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 proactive

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 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. To be expected, there were a number of no-shows, busy people and those with little interest in talking. Eventually though, he met some genuine people that 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 party

What better way to bring everyone together then to organize a block party. All you need do is 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 with organizing and inform you of whether or not they feel the other residents would be receptive of the idea. You won’t know unless you try.

Make a little free library

If reading is a favorite pastime of yours this can be a great way to find out if others in the building share your passion. This website provides step-by-step instructions on how you can create a simple book exchange in your building. 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 playdate

Kids are a great way to break the ice. Scope out the building and if you notice a neighbor with kids of similar age to yours, ask about an informal playdate. If the parent(s) isn’t busy or feels uncomfortable about leaving their child with a stranger, insist that they join as well. An hour or two of coffee and chit-chat while the kid’s play can be enough to cement a lifelong acquaintance.

Organize 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. Any food lover in the building is sure to be interested and eager to contribute their signature dish. Just know that the key to a successful potluck is not the food but 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 itself serves as an icebreaker, making conversation among everyone much easier.
Do you have any ideas or personal experiences to share from meeting your neighbors? Let us know in the comments.


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