Know your neighbors, too; while you may be expecting someone to come around with a plate of cookies to welcome you, try flipping the paradigm and going around to introduce yourself around your block. Your neighbors are the ones who will be looking out for you, watching your animals while you’re gone, keeping you up to date on what’s happening around town, and establishing friendships with your family. Make it clear that you’re aware you’re new to the area and have a lot to learn, and that you’re ready to learn from them.
Before you plunge into local politics and debates, from discussions about zoning to elections, be aware that every town has its own history, and you should learn it before you get involved. Locals often resent what they see as intrusion by uninformed outsiders, and if you can be seen but not heard at these meetings while you learn about what’s going on and the history behind it, you’ll impress locals with your dedication to getting to know the community before offering your opinion.
Before you advocate for a new coffee franchise, for example, think about the local businesses that might be affected, and the people who might oppose the franchise. Learning about the reasoning behind positions that might seem idiosyncratic or nonsensical to you will help you understand the community — and — perhaps propose solutions that meet local needs.
Taxes can also be a sore spot with locals, especially in the case of people with second homes. If you’re only visiting a community periodically, you may not be paying much more than property taxes, even though you expect to use local resources while you’re there. Get a leg up with the locals by shopping locally, using local services, and getting your face known around the community. In exchange for your willingness to contribute financially and socially, you’ll build lasting relationships that will come in handy, especially if you’re planning to retire to your second home eventually.
Above all, stay humble. You might think you know a community well, but you don’t know it as well as third-generation locals or even people who’ve been living there for thirty years or more. Get ready to face a steep learning curve, and if you stick with it, you might become a local one day yourself.