Birds of a feather flock together. And so do military spouses. Living on the base creates a bubble to develop friendships and connect quickly.
Your neighbors understand the acronyms, the deployments, and the trading of babysitting for important ceremonies. There’s a sense of, “I don’t have to explain myself and my life to you” when you live on base, but what about when you live off base?
I’ve lived both on and off base, and there are pros and cons to both, but living in a civilian neighborhood has unique opportunities to understand the place you live at a deeper level. Here are my favorite tips for making friends in your civilian neighborhood.
Hi, I’m the new neighbor…do you want to be friends?
Anytime I move to a new place, the moment I have a baking pan, I start baking cookies. I knock on about six houses and give them my treats. I introduce myself and get to know them. I’ve had thirty-minute conversations, and I’ve had people say nothing and shut the door in my face. It’s a mixed bag, but most are happy you came by and are grateful for cookies.
When people know your name, they are more likely to knock on your door to ask you to turn down the volume rather than post it on the neighborhood Facebook page. A month after we moved into our house here in San Antonio, our dogs escaped. Because we had met the neighbor and exchanged numbers and knew them, she was able to grab the dogs and get them inside. Something which might not have happened if she didn’t know us well.
Love is an Open Door
People want to get together, but they need an instigator, and being personally invited works wonders. Post a generic “join us for an open house” on the neighborhood page, and they may not feel the invite applies to them. Instead, make invitations and drop them off. Our block is doing social-distanced bonfires in our cul-de-sac. Build it, and they will come.
Just a Spoonful of Sugar
Please don’t be shy to ask your neighbors for help- helping creates bonds, whether it’s a couple of eggs for cookies or a drill to hang up a mirror. Stop and chat when you see them, you can build trust through smiles and evening conversations. Civilians have a wide range of welcoming neighborhoods, and you can help make yours a thriving one.