Congratulations! You’ve decided that independent living offers a retirement lifestyle that suits your active days and your wellness goals. As your move draws closer, you may be feeling a mix of emotions. Certainly, you’re excited about what’s to come and the investment you’re making in your health. You may also be feeling a bit nervous, wondering how you will connect with your new neighbors.
When you arrive at your new independent living community, you’ll be greeted with a multitude of opportunities to get to know your peers. After all, making friends is one of the main benefits of living in a senior community. Even if you’re feeling anxious or shy, we’ve got all the tips on how to make yourself at home and find plenty of new friends along the way.
Open Your Door
When you move into your new apartment, you’ll be the exciting news of the day. Residents love saying hello to any new neighbor, and you can take advantage of the excitement by choosing to prop open your apartment door while you unpack and get settled. An open door means neighbors are more likely to tap on your doorframe to introduce themselves, which means you meet friendly faces immediately.
Go to Meals
Connections happen in the dining room, so be sure to go where the action is. It can feel intimidating to walk into a busy dining room full of new faces, so consider tapping on a neighbor’s apartment door to ask if they will join you. Or, head down to the lobby of the dining room a few minutes before the door opens and strike up a conversation with the group waiting to be seated.
Take Advantage of the Welcome Committee
Many independent living communities have a welcome committee, a group of seasoned residents who are charged with making new neighbors feel welcomed. If you have a member of your welcoming committee bring you up a potted plant or stop by to say hello, be sure to get the scoop from them. Ask what activities are planned that week, or if you can join them for coffee in the morning.
Speaking of activities, be sure to get involved as soon as possible. Your community will have a calendar full of clubs, events, and groups that you can attend. Review the calendar and highlight a few that you know will interest you, as well as a few that you’re merely curious about. Introduce yourself to anyone who sits near you and don’t be afraid to participate actively!
Host an Open House
If you’d like to get to know the people on your floor, consider hosting an open house in your apartment. Invite everyone on your floor to stop by, set out some snacks (homemade or store-bought, no one cares!), and greet your neighbors with a smile. You’ll be surprised by how many people show up; you may just meet your new best friend right then and there.
Share a Talent
If you have a special talent you’d like to share within your new community, talk to the staff. Perhaps you can play piano at the next church service or lead a painting class in the art studio. It’s a wonderful way to meet people — as well as to volunteer — in your new home.
Ask for Help
Making friends may not be easy for you, and that’s OK. If you’re feeling isolated or struggling to make connections, talk to the staff at your new community. They are there to encourage you and connect you with other residents with whom they think you may “click.” Don’t be afraid to be honest about your struggles, and be honest about them early on instead of waiting.
Independent living is an excellent decision, and you’re sure to make fast friends with those around you. If you’ve been wondering about other aspects of independent living, download our free guide: “Everything You Need to Know About Independent Living.” Our experts have compiled tips and tricks that will make your transition smoother.
Good luck on your move! Here’s to many friendships ahead.