Downtown living can be exciting. You’re in the heart of the city with oodles of entertainment choices right outside your door. In your new digs at 300 Main, you will also have new neighbours, maybe more than you’ve ever had before.
As adults, we sometimes have trouble making new friends and even introducing ourselves to others. Do you want your neighbours to be more than just nameless faces but don’t know where to start? If so, here are five ideas that just may get you started in meeting those sharing your new living environment.
Join the Gym
At 300 Main, you’ve got some swanky new amenities, including a gym. There are many good reasons to use these facilities, the most obvious of which are exercise and healthy living. Yes, you could work out in your apartment, but you won’t meet anyone new there. The gym will give you an opportunity to politely check out and maybe meet some of your neighbours.
It can be easier to introduce yourself to someone in the gym, because you already have something in common: a desire to exercise. This gives you a ready-made topic to discuss. Does your possible new bestie have a favourite piece of equipment or a good workout tip? Starting with this type of safe topic gives you a chance to chat and discover if you might have more in common. If they don’t seem like buddy material, stick to your short exercise chat, then go back to working out. Having exercise to do gives you an easy excuse to extract yourself from a conversation that isn’t going well. (The introverted among us always like having an escape plan from awkward conversation.) Remember, less is more. You don’t want to be the pushy type, so don’t monopolize anyone for too long.
If your first conversation goes well, you can try to catch this person on the regular at the gym for a while. If you both seem receptive to talking outside of the gym, suggest going for drinks or coffee, something comfortable and short.
Join a Social Event or Start a Social Committee
Does your building hold any social events onsite or organize any group outings? If yes, consider joining one that interests you. If you don’t see any options for social gatherings, consider starting a social committee yourself. You will likely need to talk to building management first, but group outings are another great way to meet people in low-stress situations and see if you have something in common.
You can also join or start a charitable endeavour in your building. There are many non-profit organizations located downtown, such as Siloam Mission or Welcome Place, which have volunteer openings. Alternatively, you could invite your apartment block or floor to raise money as a community. Organizations like the Christmas Cheer Board are always looking for new donors. Any of these options will create an opportunity for you to meet people and help a worthy cause at the same time.
Start a Conversation in Common Areas
Inevitably, you will see some of your new neighbours in the hall, on the elevator or in the mailroom. One of the easiest ways to meet your neighbours is to pipe up and introduce yourself in these situations. If you’re an extrovert, starting conversations with complete strangers is likely an easy task for you. If you’re an introvert, this will take more effort.
Start with a smile and avoid coming on too strong. Remember, you’ve already got something in common: you live in the same building! Ask what they think of the building, the gym or some other amenity. This should lead to an easy conversation. Chances are good you can converse on this topic for a few minutes, which is all you will have (at most) when you randomly run into people in your building. Remember to give your name and, if you feel comfortable, what floor you live on. You won’t hit it off with every neighbour, so don’t fret if the first few conversations don’t work out.
Advanced Technique: Throw a Party!
If you’re a sociable sort and like to plan events, consider throwing a party. This might be especially welcome if everyone on the invitee list is new to the building, since most of us like to make friends.
It’s best to invite a smallish number of people to a party, maybe everyone on your floor. You can knock on doors, leave messages under doors or invite people you’ve met and with whom you have already exchanged numbers.
Keep the event low key and don’t try to make people do party games. Be conscientious and keep the volume down. Not everyone will come and you don’t want to tick off the people who share your building. The party could just be an easy brunch (mimosas!) or after work drinks. You don’t have to plan for a six-hour event. If all goes well, you might make a few friends. At least you will have some friendly new acquaintances you can talk to when moving around your building.
Think Beyond Your Building
It’s great to know people right in your living space, but you don’t have to limit yourself to one spot. Take advantage of your location to meet other downtown denizens. You can try local coffee shops or nightclubs. If you pick a regular time to visit your favourite coffee haunt, you might spot other regulars and be spotted by them. It will be less intimidating to start conversations with people who have seen your face a few times.
You can also look for local organizations to join. There are multiple Toastmasters clubs that meet downtown. You can also check out www.meetup.com to find information about groups or events downtown that might interest you. You can visit the Millennium Library or sign up for some volunteer work in your neighbourhood. There are so many options for meeting people downtown. Pick one and take the plunge!
Starting Is Often the Hardest Part
Meeting people and making new friends can take some work and some intentionality. Choose not to keep your head down over your phone when you’re in your building. Show your neighbours you are open to connecting by smiling, making eye contact, and saying “hi” when you can. The truth is, many people are shy and just need an invitation to strike up a conversation. Before long, you’ll discover that “renters” have become “neighbours”, and “neighbours” have become friends.