Belonging before you belong
Settling into a new neighbourhood can be daunting – especially if you’re waiting for your new home to be built. Here’s how to get involved in your Lendlease masterplanned community, even before you’ve moved in.
Moving to a new place isn’t easy – in fact, it can be downright difficult. Between boxing everything up, hauling the mattress, and trying to keep the kids out of trouble, it’s no wonder so many people find moving house stressful.
Although the logistics of a move can be hard, the fun part is getting to know your new neighbourhood. For those who are building their own homes in a Lendlease masterplan community, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the time between buying and moving in by getting to know your new community as much as you can.
The first place to look is our social media channels,” Nicole says. Every Lendlease community has their own Facebook page, often populated by posts from the residents themselves, and it’s a great way to introduce yourself and ask questions of other people. Chris White is a proud resident of the Lendlease community at Alkimos Beach and president of the Alkimos Beach Progress Association, an organisation he founded shortly after moving to his new home in December 2015. He says online engagement is a key way to engage and get involved in community groups early. “The Faceobok page is a good way for us to meet newcomers and keep people informed about what’s going on and being developed.
It’s also a good neighbourhood watch element,” continues Chris. “We have a strong volunteer team. We’re a community, we look out for each other, we keep each other safe and we inform people on the Facebook page of any alerts or neighbourhood issues. It’s a great way to keep in touch with each other.
It’s also a good idea to refer to the Communities website,” says Nicole. You’ll find resources specifically for Lendlease community members, such as contact information in case future residents have questions, the latest issues of community magazines, newsletters, as well as a wealth of activity, event, business and community listings, initiatives and volunteering opportunities for you to peruse. “You can join an existing club or group or work with us to create a new one based on your interests,” says Nicole. Each Lendlease community also has a seeding fund to make this possible. So get in touch with Lendlease via your community’s website if this is something you’d like to do.
This is also where you can find out about the next meetings for various groups. The Alkimos Beach Progress Committee meetings take place on the first Wednesday of month – and everyone’s welcome. “We try to have a different guest at every meeting. We’ve had the mayor, politicians, the SES, the surf lifesaving club and the scouts. What we’re doing here is voluntary and purely to try and keep the residents up-to-date about what’s going on in the area. Together we’re building a community.”
Attend events and activities
Once you’re thoroughly up-to-date on community goings on, it’s time to start attending some of the events and activities in your area. A good place to start is the Lendlease “community hub”, says Nicole. “That’s the space for people to come and connect with residents and attend events.” This could be your local community centre, school or temporary community space, called a Sprout Hub. A new initiative launched by Lendlease, the first Sprout Hub, was established in the Western Australian community of Alkimos Beach in 2014. “In the first year operating we did a social impact assessment that showed 57 per cent of people made a friend or met somebody new through that space before they moved.” A second Sprout Hub recently opened in Aurora, Victoria and a third is due for launch in Calderwood Valley, New South Wales, in March 2017.
Events held in and around community centres like Sprout Hubs include safety initiatives delivered by Lendlease to current and future residents, as well as official welcomes for new members, residents’ association meetings and community Christmas parties. The community of Yarrabilba in Queensland has a Lendlease Xchange initiative, which, Nicole says, “Is an onsite space for skilling, learning and job-seeking. It’s also a space purchasers might be interest to connect with during their building process.” Other events take place in less official locations, but are just as fun and provide great opportunities for people to connect in a more casual environment. The 2016 Design and Delights Festival in Yarrabilba was a roaring success and the Movies in the Park events at nearby Darlington Parklands always attract a swathe of local families, ready for a fun-filled evening. “Just go along and introduce yourself,” says Nicole. “You never know who you might meet.”
Explore the local area
And the final step on your new neighbourhood safari? Just head out and explore. All Lendlease master-planned communities contain lots of parks, playgrounds, sports fields, picnic grounds, barbecue areas and other amenities just waiting for you to come and enjoy. “We create streets you can walk down as well as amazing hike and bike trails you can use with your kids or your dog while going for a jog,” says Nicole. “People are comfortable saying hello and meeting their neighbours because everyone’s going through the same experience of moving into this great new place.”
Other amenities and initiatives are unique to the specific Lendlease community and designed to incite engagement. For instance, in Alkimos Beach Lendlease has worked with Surf Lifesaving Western Australia to deliver a BeachSafe zone for the summer. Additionally, at the new community of Harpley in Victoria, “We’ve created a cultural trail with an app and an interactive trail network that looks at cultural heritage and ecosystem and environmental sustainability aspects,” says Nicole. If you’ve got kids, a good way to get to know the community is to visit the local school. In Alkimos Beach, one family even enrolled their kids at the local school before their new home was ready. “It was great,” Nicole says. “Then they got involved in community safety and residents’ association ahead of moving in.”
So what’s the key to getting to know your new home before you move in?
- Go online; check out the Facebook groups and Lendlease community websites.
- Attend events and activities going on in your new community.
- Drop in and explore your new environment and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with people you see along the way.
“Belonging early isn’t hard,” says Nicole. “We work really hard at that front end to make sure there are places where people can engage, meet each other and form friendships.”