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I have recently purchased a new home and have moved into a neighborhood. I would like to introduce myself to my immediate neighbors and offer them my telephone number in case there is an emergency or if they have a complaint they can contact me without trying to have to see if I am home. The problem is that most of my neighbors appear to be of the opposite gender (I'm male) and that giving out a phone number is an uncommon thing to do. I would like to ensure that when offering these particular neighbors my phone number it is not interpreted as being anything more than "just being a friendly neighbor".

So my question is: How can I give out my telephone number without someone misinterpreting it as being more than friendly?

Clarifications

  • I am in a medium sized city (<50,000 people) in the midwest region of the United States.
  • I personally don't have any other reason for being concerned besides "You never know what might happen". Fortunately nothing particularly bad has happened to me personally but it does happen to others. You just never know.
167

I'm female, so I don't have a lot of the concerns you would have, necessarily... or a different set of concerns, but the solution I would personally accept if a guy moved in next door to me would be to get a small business card-like piece of paper that I could put on my fridge or enter into my phone.

The piece of paper should be formatted and printed in a neat way. This shows that you're prepared and have thought this through and this isn't a pickup sort of thing, you want me to have your info (name/phone number/email) but aren't asking me to add it to my phone directly - you're letting me pick how I (or even if I) retain that information. You've even got several of them at hand so it's clear that you're handing them out to all of your neighbors.

When you introduce yourself, be open, friendly and explain yourself and why you're reaching out.

  • If you have a loud hobby that you can blame, use it. For example, if you've got a garage band or if you like having parties at your place... or if you like mowing your lawn or blowing leaves at 3 am, emphasize that you'd really appreciate them letting you know if you're ever being too loud or disturbing them.

  • If you go out of town periodically, you can mention that you'd really appreciate if they would call you if they see anything fishy going on.

The important thing is to recognize that if they seem uninterested in taking your card (or just your number), be OK with that. Graciously say that you're glad to meet them and if they change their mind, feel free to knock on your door and you'll give it to them at that point.

In general, I think this is a non-issue. While it's less common for new neighbors to introduce themselves (we don't know many of the people who live near us well), it's not unheard of, so you should be OK doing so if you do it with respect.

35

Similar to the answer @Bilkokuya posted, the most important thing to stress here is that the number is for emergencies, and that you are not just providing your phone number to that particular resident, but to each of your "immediate neighbors". Including the other neighbors will make it clear that this is not an attempt to target that specific person, which should alleviate any potential feelings of a romantic advance they might have otherwise.

Hello, My name is IceC and I just moved in over at Address. I thought it would be nice if I went around and introduced myself to my new neighbors! I just talked with Neighbor B and Neighbor C, and I gave them my phone number in case any emergencies or other situations arise that you need to get a hold of me quickly. I would like to offer this to you as well!

or if this is the first neighbor you are contacting

Hello, My name is IceC and I just moved in over at Address. I thought it would be nice if I went around and introduced myself to my new neighbors! I would like to offer you my phone number in case any emergencies or other situations arise that you need to get a hold of me quickly.

Then after their response:

I would like to offer my number to the other neighbors as well. Do you by chance know who lives at Address B and Address C?

Making the boundaries to your neighbors clear up front that your phone number is not for casual conversation will leave the impression that you are also not going to attempt to engage your neighbor in unwanted casual conversation or advances with them.

Of course you can loosen the restrictions on phone communication after you get to know your neighbors well as some other answers suggest, but that can always come after a good relationship is formed with your neighbors.

good luck!

  • 3
    This is also a good answer. I think stressing the idea that it is for emergencies or "serious complaints/situations" only is a good idea as it should help draw a boundary for both sides like you said. +1 This way of handling it should also alleviate some of the concerns mentioned in one of the other answers. – user15922 Apr 10 '18 at 16:25
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    @IceC I wouldn't say anything about "complaints". That suggests that you might want their number so you can complain about them. They probably think they don't do anything that a reasonable person would need to complain about, so why would they need to give you their number for that? It kinda makes you seem like a busybody, whereas an emergency could happen to anyone. – David Richerby Apr 10 '18 at 17:01
  • @DavidRicherby Just to be clear I don't intend on trying to get their numbers (Though if they offer their numbers for the same purpose I am ok with that) but I do see your point and will definitely take it into consideration. – user15922 Apr 10 '18 at 17:45
  • @IceC I think that, in pretty much any situation where somebody offers you their phone number, there's a fairly strong suggestion that they'd also like to know yours, whether it's "Hey, call me so we can arrange to go on a date [actually, I could call you]" or "Hey, call me if my house is on fire [and I'll call you if yours is!]" – David Richerby Apr 10 '18 at 18:07
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    I like this answer. @IceC for the "first neighbor you are contacting" scenario, you might want to wait for when two of your neighbors are together, or at least in plain view of each other, so you can talk to both of them at the same time thus making it all less "personal". – walen Apr 11 '18 at 7:39
17

Oh jeez, I wish this were standard practice.

I’m a woman, and on this past New Year’s Eve, I wanted to wish the nice old lady next door a happy new year, as she might be lonely. But I was scared to knock on her door, because she might have gone to sleep early. I so wished I could just send her a text so that I could check whether she was awake before storming over there and frightening her with a midnight caller.

Everyone should share some contact details with their neighbours. It’s just civilised. If you were my neighbour, I wouldn’t care that you’re a single man. I would expect you to come to my door, without having seen me, already holding your business card. You’d then introduce yourself, and hand me your card, saying ‘Here’s my email and stuff, just in case you see my house burning down or something.’ Since you were planning to give me the card before you saw that I was a young woman, I wouldn’t take it as a come-on. And wouldn’t be so awful if a nice, polite, new gentleman in the neighbourhood were interested in me anyway!

15

There's a fine line to be drawn here for more reasons than this. At my last house, the neighbor seemed really friendly at first. We decided that we didn't know her so kept our distance and it turned out that she was really intrusive, monitoring the neighborhood and calling everything conceivable into the city/police/etc. She relied on the previous occupants to be her own (free) taxi service. Had we not been careful, we would have wound up in a similar relationship. Because of this, I'm kind of suspicious of people who start off too "strongly" as neighbors and wanting to become friendly.

I wouldn't give everyone my phone number immediately. I'd suggest getting to know the neighbors first and giving them the chance to get to know you. That will seem less forward and may also help you avoid painting yourself as overly dependent or desperate (like my last neighbor). I'm not saying that you should be best friends, but establishing the relationship first and then providing contact info seems to me to be a less risky path.

I'd say that, once you have met the neighbors, give them your number when they might have a reason to contact you. "Hey, I'm heading out for the weekend. The alarm will be turned on - can I give you my phone number in case something happens? I'm not expecting any packages, buyers from Craigslist, or other traffic to stop by so it should be pretty uneventful." Then you're asking for something specific for a defined period of time. And after that period of time is done, they'll have your number.

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    While your caution is understandable (I have one of these neighbors, too) This is tangential to the question. Could you please focus on answering the question rather than addressing an issue the OP isn't asking about? – Catija Apr 10 '18 at 15:12
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    Believe me I understand what you are talking about. However I am also concerned that if I take too much time to establish a relationship first then it will also increase the suspicion of ulterior motives when I do offer it. Also I would prefer to give my neighbors as much space as possible but it would be nice for my immediate (left and right and across) neighbor to be able to contact me with concerns. – user15922 Apr 10 '18 at 15:17
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    @Catija I don't see this as tangential at all. OP specifically states that it is uncommon to give people your number this way in the USA. This answer addresses why it uncommon and offers an excellent path forward IMO. – user10743 Apr 10 '18 at 16:55
7

Short and sweet:

I would like to [...] offer them my telephone number in case there is an emergency

So, ring their bell, introduce yourself as usual, hand them a pre-printed piece of paper with your name, address (so they remember that you are living next to them) and phone number and then say...

May I give you my telephone number in case there is an emergency

If you have a mobile phone number, then put that one first and in bold (maybe with your landline second). Having only your landline wouldn't help them much (if you are in your house, then they could just ring the bell in case of an emergency anyways...).

They will pin that piece of paper to whatever whiteboard etc. they are using to keep such scribbles, and forget about it; I couldn't imagine that they find it weird.

2

Make your number visible at entry point. Let the neighbors know it is there.

Then tell your neighbors your are giving it to them if there's something, but they can also find it at your gate. (This point makes the thing less personal.) You can also make a notion you are willing to write down their number, if they want.

 
Details:

Put your phone number under your name to your doorbell (or mailbox or gate handle) or at another obvious entrance point to your property. This will help not only your neighbors, but anyone who will really need to contact you.

Then, besides giving your number to your neighbors, just let your neighbors know it is also there. This works better than just giving the number directly, because from their family, someone will have your number, someone won't, they can lose it etc.

From my experience, this is very practical, it helped me in several cases. Once my neighbors were able to contact me in emergency and my early return prevented large damages. Think like someone standing at your gate with important message for you. Would you put your (mobile) number at their eyesight when they want to contact you? From my experience, benefits outweigh potential abuse.


UPDATE: commenters think about the phone number like of private thing, but phone numbers are typically not marked as private, but they are published in phone books and service directories with your name (and address) as soon as you obtain a number. So keeping the number away is not something what stops determined criminals to pretend they are doing delivery service, checking your presence by a phone call.

protected by Community Apr 11 '18 at 11:08

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