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Ask McEnearney: Building a local community as a new homeowner

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

There’s a saying I’ve heard said to travelers “go everywhere, talk to everyone, eat everything”. While this might not be as intuitive for your home town, in my opinion, it’s not always good advice.

Eat where the locals eat!

Worst case, you’ll get some good food. Even if the food isn’t great, there’s got to be a reason that the locals love it! Maybe the staff is the friendliest in town. Maybe there’s always a good conversation at the bar. Maybe it’s just the perfect spot to get cozy and read a book. Regardless, be sure to go in with an open mind and see what the locals see. There’s bound to be something you’ll enjoy at the local watering hole.

My younger sister has a local spot that she goes to once a week, and gets the salmon and an iced tea. She rarely drinks, but has established a nice little community at our local watering hole — and if she ever looked up from her book, she’d find some nice conversations as well!

Join the local Buy Nothing group! 

It’s not quite as widely known as NextDoor, but have you heard of Buy Nothing?! If not, you’re truly missing out. This is a super localized group that takes the spirit of asking a neighbor for a cup of sugar, and scales it up. Each group is theoretically small enough for you to walk to any spot in your group. The guidelines are simple — give freely, receive freely, and share freely. To quote the BN website “all gifts have the same value in Buy Nothing: Priceless”. (Check it out at

I love that I can give up a favorite pair of heels, and know for certain that they will be worn to a fabulous gala and live the life that they deserve but I could never give them. I’ve discovered a kindred spirit just down the block, by gifting an obscure Halloween costume accessory. And it’s really cool to discover a Buy Nothing friend out in “the wild”.

Not only is it a great source of “stuff”, it’s also a fun, SUPER local message board to find out neighborhood info. Alexandria even has a “Spin-Off Spin-Off” (aka “the Wild West”) with looser guidelines than the typical BN group. Join it all!

There are definitely some people in my neighborhood who I’ve never met, but we are very familiar with each other on Buy Nothing! (And for a laugh, be sure to follow “The Best of Buy Nothing” on Instagram!)

Volunteer at Local Events 

Of course, a lot of us have non-profits that we support and regular volunteers are crucially needed all year round!

However, a lot of neighborhoods have local, annual events that support various causes. For example, Del Ray has a Turkey Trot, as well as a number of Bar Crawls throughout the year. Volunteering for just a few hours at these events will not only give you perks (like a free bar crawl ticket!) but also introduce you to other locals who love to help the community. I know from personal experience, it can be tons of fun to give the gift of your time!

Whatever your personal interests and hobbies, there are tons of ways to meet people and grow a community in your new neighborhood. And as your local real estate expert, living and working in Alexandria all of my life, I know most of the local hot spots and fun upcoming events. If you ever want advice, I’m happy to point you in the right direction!

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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