I was reading a post the other day on Reddit titled: Day 715 of living in Maine. Starting to feel (somewhat) accepted by the Mainer neighbors. It got me thinking how long does it take for neighbors in rural neighborhoods to accept a new person or family in town?
I know from first-hand experience that it does take a lot of time to get to know people in a new rural area. Or rather for people to WANT to get to know YOU.
Here are some tips on how to deal with rural neighbors in rural areas around the country.
Give Rural Neighborhoods Time To Get To Know You
One thing you have to understand is that people in rural neighborhoods are used to a slower pace of life. They’re not used to having new neighbors move in every other week. So, it’s going to take them some time to get used to you.
Everyone in a small rural area town knows everyone else who has lived there for a long time and a newcomer is not often welcomed with open arms. They are so ingrained with their long-time friends that they do not seek new friends.
However, I oftentimes wonder if any remember how it first felt when they were the new person to a rural neighborhood.
Others will say, just be patient and they’ll come around eventually. They are speaking from experience.
Don’t Take It Personally If Rural Neighbors Are Not Friendly
It’s not that they don’t like you, they just don’t know you yet. They don’t know what kind of person you are or what your intentions are. So, don’t take it personally if rural neighborhoods are not super friendly at first. These neighbors just need some time to warm up to you.
Another reason it takes so long for neighbors in rural areas to accept newcomers is that they want to make sure that the newcomers are going to stick around. People in small towns have seen too many families move in and then move out again after a few months.
I think there’s a sense of relief when a new family has been living in town for a year or two and shows no signs of leaving.
Lastly, some rural neighborhoods are meant for people that are not people-friendly. They want to live in rural areas where they are not close to their neighbors. They are not bad people but they are more loners and like to spend time alone than with others.
Be A Good Neighbor
Don’t be a neighbor that plays loud music at all hours of the day or lets your dog run around loose and chase others nearby. Even though there may not be leash laws, it’s best to keep your dog on a leash.
That was one of the hardest things for me to get used to when I went walking was having big dogs running up to me unleashed!
By being a good neighbor your rural neighbors will not have anything to complain about you.
Get Involved In The Rural Community
A great way to make friends and get accepted by your neighbors is to get involved in the community. Volunteer for local organizations, attend town events, and just generally be involved in the day-to-day life of the community. You can check your local community news for ideas.
You or your family could join:
- Bowling league
- Hunting club
- Garden club
- Church group
- Book club
- Health club
- Pot luck dinners
- Chamber of commerce for business owners
The more they see you around, the more they’ll start to accept you as one of their own. I’ve volunteered in our rural area at the local health and wellness center and at the town elections.
How Long Does It Take People To Become Friends?
According to Social Self, It takes around 200 hours of shared quality time to become good friends. The more often you hang out, the more quickly you’ll become friends. But don’t try to rush the process by pressuring someone to hang out all the time.
In general, hanging out once per week is often enough when you’re getting to know someone even in rural neighborhoods. If you have things in common with your rural neighbors there is a better chance you will spend some time together and get to know one another.
Don’t Fear The Flatlander Term
In our area, new people are called Flatlanders. What are flatlanders? A person who lives at or lived at, or was raised by someone at a low altitude or from any city. A person not raised in or by someone directly from high mountain areas.
A friendly neighbor told me it took 20 years for others to not call her a flatlander. So you and I still have some time and adjustments to go through.
Moving to a rural area can be a tough adjustment, especially if you’re used to living in a city or town where everyone knows each other or has family nearby. But don’t worry if your new neighbors aren’t exactly friendly at first. It’s common in rural neighborhoods for it to be that way.
Just give them time, don’t take it personally, and get involved in the community and they’ll come around eventually.
How did you find your rural neighborhood neighbors to be when you first moved in? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section and please share this post with your friends.