Is It Rude To Not Greet A New Neighbor?

Are the days of welcome cookies and casseroles gone?

While we realize that the era of cursive handwritten notes might be fading more into the distance with each passing year, Southerners will always defend that there is forever a place for tradition and manners. We can certainly understand that times change, but we would be lying if we said that there aren't some things we'd wish to keep around. With the rise of texting and the decline of social graces such as the old-fashioned phone call, it can seem that people just aren’t as openly friendly and courteous to their neighbors as they once were. Even in the South, there are less welcome casseroles, casual drop-ins, and neighborhood barbecues. Which begs the question: Is it still considered rude to not greet a new neighbor? 

While many people, especially small-town Southerners, might think that the answer to this debate is unequivocal—“Not greet your new neighbor? Mama would be ashamed!”—it’s actually not so firmly-sided in today’s modern culture. There are others, online commentators and those in the younger generation, that believe it’s unnecessary to put yourself into strangers’ business without being asked. In fact, some would even go so far as to assert that it can be seen as an invasion of privacy in certain circumstances. 

Woman Picking Up Care Package

Getty Images/The Good Brigade

Now, in the South, it’s always been considered polite to introduce yourself when someone new moves into your neighborhood, as well as to bring a housewarming gift such as a plate of cookies, casserole, or bouquet of flowers. You might offer up your phone number, or bring along other neighbors as a sort of welcome brigade. Nowadays, it’s become less common for people to go out of their way with such courtesies, which can be disappointing for those who grew up on the giving and receiving end of them. 

However, it’s safe to say that the etiquette about welcoming newcomers to the neighborhood remains the same for those who wish to practice it. As The Emily Post Institute notes: “Calling on new neighbors is one of those rare instances when dropping by unannounced is good manners.” As always, it’s up to you if you want to heed certain etiquette rules, and this is no exception.

Tips for Welcoming a New Neighbor

If you're considering whether or not to greet a new neighbor, follow these manners-minded tips. 

Keep It Quick

The easiest and most non-intrusive way to introduce yourself to a new neighbor is by simply waving and stopping to say hello if you run into each other outside. If you are planning to drop in a few days after the newcomers have moved in, don’t invite yourself inside or overstay on their doorstop. Simply introduce yourself, kindly make conversation, and avoid lingering too long.

Don't Expect Thanks

As your mother probably once said, you don’t give someone a gift or “little happy” with the expectation of a thank you. Moving can be stressful, so don’t be upset if you don’t receive a note in the mail or a gift in return after stopping by to introduce yourself. Furthermore, some people might not be as receptive to gifts (especially considering potential dietary restrictions) or offerings of help, but don’t be offended. At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts. 

Offer Helpful Information

If you’re wondering what to offer instead of a gift or a phone number, consider giving helpful information about the area or local events, such as neighborhood festivals or art walks, if your new neighbors are from out of town. For example, you can even offer (new) takeout menus from nearby restaurants, or divulge the best dog parks in town for those who have furry pets. 

Don’t Gossip

It’s never appropriate to speak about other neighbors or badmouth the neighborhood in general to newcomers. Keep the conversation lighthearted and welcoming. (Admittedly, this one can be hard for some Southerners who love to gossip.) 

While it might no longer be considered a strict social requirement to go ring your new neighbor’s doorbell, more often than not it’ll be appreciated. And your Southern mama would probably agree.

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