How to Build Community in a New Home

Tips for creating a vibrant life when you’re new to Bend

Janet McNown
By Janet McNown, Principal Broker
RE/MAX Key Properties

First published in the Source Weekly

Welcome to Bend! If you’re new here, you’re lucky. We are a thriving community of wonderfully friendly and giving people. You may have seen bumper stickers around that say “Smile. You’re in Bend.” Or “Be Nice. You’re in Bend.” This is not just a gimmick. People often comment and joke about Bend being a bubble of happiness. If you are fortunate enough to call Bend home, then you know what I mean.

Still, even in Bend, it can be challenging to find a community of friends when you first move to a new town, or even a new neighborhood. If you work remotely, you may have additional challenges in forging new friendships.

As a real estate professional, I spend a great deal of time helping my clients get settled into their new hometown. Here are some of the tips I share with my clients following a move to Bend.

Find some groups with similar interests.

First and foremost, keep yourself safe by vetting out new groups before you join and then get out there and meet your people! There are so many things to do here and so many ways to get involved, to give back to the community, and to make friends along the way. There are incredible groups of singles, couples and families that are like minded and welcoming to newcomers. You made the move to this beautiful place, now get out and get involved!

Throw yourself a housewarming party.

When my clients are open to it, I will throw them a housewarming party and invite the neighbors. It is always a lot of fun! In the past, people would go and welcome their new neighbor and that seems to have waned. I say, why not throw your own party? If you are inviting your neighbors and being careful about it, what a great way to get to know your neighbor.

Crowdsource your friends!

There are lots of ways to meet people through social media groups as well as your networks of friends who may have friends in Bend. Think about who you know and who has connections in Central Oregon and then reach out and make a friend request! Most likely, your crowdsourcing efforts will connect you with folks who moved here in the last 10 years or so and still remember what it was like to be new-to-town. They’ll likely be thrilled to connect and share their opinions on what’s best of Bend.

Join a social group.

About four years ago, I started a newcomers group called Blend. It’s been a wonderful way for people who are new to Bend to gather in a casual, no-strings-attached format. Over the years, we’ve continued to grow friendships that were formed at a Blend event! Each month we choose a different venue. We provide food and drinks and an opportunity to meet new people. It is totally free and so much fun!  There are many other terrific groups here such as Newcomers Club of Bend and Bend Bridges. You’ll also find meet-up groups focused on skiing, cycling, mountain biking, hiking and so much more!

Most important? Get out there and introduce yourself. Organize a block party with your new neighbors. Have your closest neighbors over to share a meal. Or just pop by and say “Hello, we are your new neighbors!” It doesn’t have to complicated. We are a friendly bunch here in Bend so get out and smile and say, “Howdy Neighbor!”