When and How to Welcome a New Neighbor Near You

Here are a few tips on how to break the ice when a new neighbor moves to the Hudson Valley.

By Lizzie Post, Houzz

Thrive Homes, LLC, original photo on Houzz

Dear Lizzie,

“When’s an appropriate time to welcome a neighbor to the neighborhood — and what’s the best gift to give?”

Welcoming a new neighbor is a hallmark of classic American etiquette and yet, somehow, it can also feel like an intrusion. Although walking right into someone’s new home as movers are bringing in furniture may be going a bit overboard, a brief and well-timed welcome is a wonderful gesture that should be encouraged.

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So when is the appropriate time? Whenever your new neighbors are outside, it’s OK to give a wave or stop by for a quick “Hi, I’m Ben. I live two doors down. Welcome to the neighborhood!” If you want to drop by with a gift, it’s best to wait until it looks as though they’ve settled in a bit. If you’re giving baked goods, list the ingredients so that you avoid sending your neighbor into anaphylactic shock right off the bat. A potted plant, a local treat (maple syrup, fudge, specialty oils or cooking supplies) and lists of restaurants or town services are good options, but avoid wine and spirits until you know them better.


Wind and Willow Home, original photo on Houzz

If you’ve had the chance to do a quick hello, you can always ask if there’s a better time to stop by, though don’t be surprised if your new neighbor has a hard time suggesting one. Moving is a hefty task, and those first few weeks are often very hectic. But generally, in the evenings from 5 to 7 is usually a safe bet. There’s a general understanding in our society that these are acceptable visiting hours. The important thing is to make that a friendly stop-by and not get nervous about or hung up on whether it’s a good time. If it’s not good, your neighbor will say so. Just keep the hello short and sweet. If it looks as though a member of the family stays home during the day, you might also try dropping by about 10 or 11 in the morning.

Generally, late morning through early evening will be considered acceptable visiting hours. If it turns out not to be a good time, you can always leave your gift with a little note (or just a note). Be sure to include which house on the block is yours and, if you feel comfortable, your contact information so that your new neighbor knows whom to thank for this thoughtful gesture.

Julie Ranee Photography, original photo on Houzz

If your new neighbors are home and you’ve dropped by at an inconvenient time, you can suggest getting together another day. Also, don’t be surprised if they don’t invite you in or give you a tour. Think: unpacking, renovations, repairs or just “not ready for prime time.” They may not feel comfortable just yet, and many people don’t want to show their house until they feel confident about how they’ve set it up.

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These first visits are usually brief — just a simple conversation conveying the basic facts of each other’s lives. This isn’t the time for such big life questions or topics as “Are you planning on having children?” Sticking to the basics — “Hi! Welcome to the neighborhood. I’m Keisha Jones. My husband and I live in the yellow house two doors down” — is a great way to start. Sometimes there’s an offer of help, either as a community resource or with getting settled, but don’t feel obligated to make such an offer unless you’d really like to be taken up on it. 

Related: Here’s How to Create the Perfect Guest Room at Home

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