As the excitement of moving into a brand-new home builds, remember that this next move is more than an opportunity to build a house from the ground up with your own personal signature. It also comes with the prospect of developing new, meaningful connections that could last forever; networks that can enrich lives and promote well-being.
During the pandemic lockdowns, neighbors who previously hadn’t known each other’s names learned what they had in common. On breaks outside from working from home or distance learning from home, they stopped and chatted in front of their homes.
They exchanged phone numbers and formed new messaging groups to encourage and assist one another.
Simple messages became the norm, such as, “I’m at the store and have room in my cart. What can I pick up for any of you to save you a trip out?” or “Hi, everyone. In case you didn’t hear, we’ll be back in the purple tier tomorrow. Stay safe. Let’s keep helping each other.”
Over time, what were mere community acquaintances blossomed into friendly relationships. We came to know each other better. We remembered how much we need each other. And we were reminded of how good it feels not only to come together but to help others — and to let others help us.
Form new circles before moving
Look at the move to a new construction home through the same lens of people’s need to share, find common ground and be mutually available when needs arise.
In a development of new homes, forming connections with neighbors from a blank slate can be at least as fulfilling as decorating a blank slate of brand new rooms.
Go ahead and plan visits to the new neighborhood, even if construction hasn’t finished in the phase where you’re buying. Many builders are selling homes in the second or later phases of the communities in which they build. In those areas, neighbors are already in place.
Although you won’t have time to live in two places at once, why not spend one of your days off or part of an evening or weekend day getting to know the new neighborhood and surrounding amenities and activities that residents enjoy?
Choose times of day when people are most likely to be outside such as weekend mornings, weekday evenings just after dinner or popular shopping times at local retailers. Lace up your shoes and be ready to take walks through public areas, where you might meet people.
Before leaving, look up community and public parks as well as the location of grocery stores, restaurants, schools and open-air shopping centers. Grab a bite to eat; perhaps a Saturday coffee, a Sunday brunch or a Wednesday evening ice cream cone.
Remember that kids and dogs are natural icebreakers. If you have either, bring them along for the occasional adventure to your future home or the local amenities surrounding the neighborhood.
Before heading back from a visit, consider doing your regular grocery trips at local markets in the new area so they’ll feel like home after your move.
People who love their communities are eager to share their favorite places, tips and treasures with newcomers. Open yourself up to meeting at least one new acquaintance in or near your future neighborhood on each visit.
Let people engage you in conversations while waiting in line at checkout, even if 6 feet from the next customer or store staff member.
Find your people through your builder
For those who don’t know where to start or aren’t programmed to strike up conversations with people they don’t yet know, builders’ welcome centers are the place to go.
Now that most cities and communities have lightened the guidelines on how many people are allowed to gather and where, you may even be able to meet your future neighbors while asking the welcome center representative for things to do and places to go.
Some builders have even returned to hosting open-house style events in welcome centers or model homes.
As a future community member, by now you know the sales and service teams of your builder or master-planned community. Ask these people which kinds of other events are open to future residents.
You may get your family an invitation to a movie night, a block-party type event or a concert in the park. Or you might learn about a quaint farmers market nearby that’s open to the public and regularly attended by your future neighbors.
Let yourself be open to introductions so the new home can feel like home before you move in.