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Old 05.04.2015, 20:30
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What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

We just moved to Im Tiergarten in Zurich and now that we've survived our first intra-Zurich move, I'd love to meet more people in the neighborhood. (So if anyone here is also living in this community let me know! ) But I'm wondering what is the etiquette for introducing yourself to neighbors? I've had a look through the threads here but most posts seem to be about bad neighbors - I'd like to try to start off being a good one!

I've been told that it's ok to knock on neighbors' doors to introduce yourself, but I've been told writing a note would be better. Do we leave them on their doors, or in the post boxes? I'd be happy to introduce myself in person, but I have only once run into our neighbor across the hall, an elderly Swiss lady, and she looked at me warily and kind of hurried away.

Thanks in advance for the advice, or please feel free to direct me to relevant threads if I've overlooked anything.
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Old 05.04.2015, 22:02
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

We invited our block to an Apéro shortly after we had moved in. Seemed to work.
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Old 05.04.2015, 22:07
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

Don't, until you've been there 15+ years.

Same as back in New England.

Tom
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Old 05.04.2015, 23:41
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

I avoid mine... They are all very odd, and one is plain mental
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Old 05.04.2015, 23:44
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

Loud music, flushing and showering after 10.00 pm, stamping on the floors ..... they'll come to you.
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Old 06.04.2015, 00:05
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

I placed a note at the door introducing myself and an invitation over for coffee or a walk. I received a call in about an hour and out we went for a walk. That was about a month ago. A few shopping trips have gone by and I now knock on her door almost on a daily basis to stop by for a quick chat. Make the first move and if they turn out to be a weirdo or if there's no chemistry, you'll be the first to exit. Good luck!
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Old 06.04.2015, 02:12
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

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I placed a note at the door introducing myself and an invitation over for coffee or a walk. I received a call in about an hour and out we went for a walk. That was about a month ago. A few shopping trips have gone by and I now knock on her door almost on a daily basis to stop by for a quick chat. Make the first move and if they turn out to be a weirdo or if there's no chemistry, you'll be the first to exit. Good luck!
You sound like a nice person and nothing against you but God I would HATE if one of my neighbours knocks on my door on a daily basis. I like to know my neighbours and be polite to them and that's all. My home is my private sphere and nobody should knock on the door unless I expect them!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 09.04.2015 at 11:46. Reason: changed name in quoted text
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Old 06.04.2015, 02:18
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

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I'd love to meet more people in the neighborhood.
Your work is actually to be totally absolutely silent and invisible. If your neighbors are convinced that your flat is empty and inhabited, then you can consider yourself integrated.
Socialization through clubs (Vereine), work, special interests (mine are secret, don't ask).
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Old 06.04.2015, 02:39
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

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We invited our block to an Apéro shortly after we had moved in. Seemed to work.
This is exactly what we did too and seems to work the best. Straight after the Apero one of the neighbors even invited me to have dinner with him and let me choose the wine from his Keller too.

There you go, two success stories.
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Old 06.04.2015, 03:08
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

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You sound like a nice person and nothing against you but God I would HATE if one of my neighbours knocks on my door on a daily basis. I like to know my neighbours and be polite to them and that's all. My home is my private sphere and nobody should knock on the door unless I expect them!
Don't you folks have doorbells? Knocking on doors is so American.
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Old 06.04.2015, 09:51
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

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Your work is actually to be totally absolutely silent and invisible. If your neighbors are convinced that your flat is empty and inhabited, then you can consider yourself integrated.
In our last place we knocked on the door of our neighbour (Or rang the bell, whatever it was!) to introduce ourselves and were confronted by the nicest Swiss couple you could imagine, who actually mentioned that they were disappointing that the previous tenants had not done the same. No one will hold it against you if you make some effort, but they might if you don't.
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Old 06.04.2015, 10:04
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

I live in Ausserschwyz, so perhaps attitudes are somewhat more relaxed in ZH, but...

Knocking on doors (ringing bells ) would be considered the height of rudeness here. You see, your neighbor would not be expecting visitors, her house might not (yet) be white-glove spotless and your visit would leave her feeling embarrassed. Consequently her embarrassment would turn to resentment against your intrusion into her privacy (and cleaning regime.)

Such a faux pas that would blacken your name for all eternity.

So - no spontaneous visits. Rather, write a letter, addressed individually, to each neighbor introducing yourself.

Some time later hold an apero, again addressing invitations to each neighbor individually. Most will not come, but the effort is expected.

Then, having followed proper introduction protocol, revert to a polite but distant hello and comments on the weather as you pass your neighbors coming and going. If you must visit, drop a note in the mailbox beforehand, suggesting a day. Then call to follow up for a fixed appointment.

Polite distance is what is expected of neighbors - it's the way folks here maintain some semblance of privacy and dignity when personal space is so limited.

But that's my little corner of Schwyz...

(Being serious - do try to understand neighborhood expectations first.)
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Old 06.04.2015, 10:20
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

Don't forget you need to make an appointment before allowing yourself to post a note in the neighbour's letter box. Your neighbour will then check their agenda - finding time inbetween milking cows and shovelling pig manure to be able to read your note.

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I live in Ausserschwyz, so perhaps attitudes are somewhat more relaxed in ZH, but...

Knocking on doors (ringing bells ) would be considered the height of rudeness here. You see, your neighbor would not be expecting visitors, her house might not (yet) be white-glove spotless and your visit would leave her feeling embarrassed. Consequently her embarrassment would turn to resentment against your intrusion into her privacy (and cleaning regime.)

Such a faux pas that would blacken your name for all eternity.

So - no spontaneous visits. Rather, write a letter, addressed individually, to each neighbor introducing yourself.

Some time later hold an apero, again addressing invitations to each neighbor individually. Most will not come, but the effort is expected.

Then, having followed proper introduction protocol, revert to a polite but distant hello and comments on the weather as you pass your neighbors coming and going. If you must visit, drop a note in the mailbox beforehand, suggesting a day. Then call to follow up for a fixed appointment.

Polite distance is what is expected of neighbors - it's the way folks here maintain some semblance of privacy and dignity when personal space is so limited.

But that's my little corner of Schwyz...

(Being serious - do try to understand neighborhood expectations first.)
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Old 09.04.2015, 09:59
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

Some of ours came round and introduced themselves, others we said hello to as we met them.

Simple stuff like saying how long we've been in Switzerland, where we'd moved from, apologizing profusely for bad German etc was enough to break the ice. All of them have been very welcoming.

We haven't done an apero but may once we've tidied up properly, or when the weather improves; I've been to ones from other people moving in and it's a good way to meet neighbours more thoroughly but not sure I'd do it as a first intro.

It's probably different between houses and flats - in a flat I've found you bump into neighbours all the time but don't necessarily make much of it due to the close proximity, in a house you don't see people so much so it's nice when you do.
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Old 09.04.2015, 10:27
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

Looks like you live in an urban area of Zurich, so I'd go with an invitation to an apero. You can write the invitation in English and ask a colleague or friend if they could kindly translate to German for you, if you don't speak and write German, that is! Plenty of ideas for apero on this site, if you do a google-powered search on EF.

As for the old lady, I'd suggest you remain formal at all times - greet "Gruezi", smile, nod. And always always call them by Frau Last Name, and never by the first name, and make sure you get their name correctly!

Good luck in your new neighbourhood - hope all goes well.
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Old 09.04.2015, 11:31
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

When I first arrived in Zürich I invited all my neighbours to Bellevue where we set fire to a giant snowman. Much more fun than an apero. It was such a success that they do it every year now.
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Old 09.04.2015, 11:49
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

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...So - no spontaneous visits. Rather, write a letter, addressed individually, to each neighbor introducing yourself. ...
Similar around here, but we use sticky notes all the time, whether new or not. A few weeks ago someone was going to hose off their balcony, and left stickies on all our doors to warn us that we might get some spritz.
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Old 09.04.2015, 12:45
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

1). Say Hello as you meet them. (downside: it might take a while)
2). Invite all of them for an apero.
But if you come from a place where is not uncommon that neighbours are friends with each other and pop up for short visits and want to reconstruct your small universe here... you can forget about it.
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Old 09.04.2015, 12:53
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

Im Tiergarten in Zürich it's customary to invite your neighbors to BBQ. Everyone brings and braai their own game referred to as Tiere. If you don't have one try to equip oneself with one. After all, the hunting season is around the corner.

Btw: During introduction Jäggermeister is always in order.
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Old 09.04.2015, 13:42
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Re: What is the etiquette for meeting the neighbors?

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Im Tiergarten in Zürich it's customary to invite your neighbors to BBQ. Everyone brings and braai their own game referred to as Tiere. If you don't have one try to equip oneself with one. After all, the hunting season is around the corner.

Btw: During introduction Jäggermeister is always in order.
Come now, hopefully OP is only planning to invite them for an apero and not for the last supper...
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