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This is a guest post from Neighborwho.com.
Are You a good neighbor? September 28th is Good Neighbor Day, which makes it the perfect time to review the do’s and don’ts of being a good neighbor! In the old days, being neighborly was pretty standard behavior. These days, we can all be a little wrapped up in our own lives, so much that we forget that building a village begins and ends with being a good neighbor. We live in smaller and more congested spaces, so setting up a happy relationship with your neighbors just makes good sense. From participating in Neighborhood Watch programs to just saying ‘hi’ to the folks next door, we all have a better standard of living when we forge a few bonds with the people who live near us. Here are some dos and don’ts to get you started:
How to be a Good Neighbor
Introduce Yourself and Your Family
When you move into a new neighborhood or if someone has just moved in to yours, make the effort to walk over and introduce yourself and your family. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to do this, so go on over! Your new neighbors will see you as being open and interested in fostering a good relationship.
Extend an Olive Branch
Let your neighbors know that they should feel free to speak with you if anything you are doing on your property is bothering them. For example, if you have outdoor living space, like a hot tub or pool, they might want to say something when your late night parties start to go on a bit too long. Let them know that you’re open to that.
Offer to Help Your Neighbors
Situations can pop up where you can show yourself as being open to helping your neighbors. For example, if you have a tree on your property that is extending over to theirs, offer to have it trimmed. They may take you up on that or they might not, but at least they’ll know you’re open to ensuring that living in close quarters will be a pleasant experience.
Offer to Keep an Eye on Things
Offer to keep an eye on their place if they’re going to be away. Hopefully, this will result in them reciprocating the favor, when you’re on holiday too. Another great idea is to offer to park one of your cars in their driveway while they’re gone (assuming they took theirs). It helps to make the place look lived in even when it’s not.
Check in on Them
This is particularly true if you have elderly neighbors who live alone, but really anyone who lives near you should be on your radar. Make sure you stop and have a chat over the garden fence once in a while to ‘check in’ and see how they’re doing.
How NOT to be a Good Neighbor
Don’t be a Pain
You can’t force a relationship with strangers, so while you should show yourself to be open to one, don’t be aggressive about it. Just let it build up naturally, over time. It’s okay to host an open house and invite your new neighbors over, but don’t expect that to turn into a weekly poker game.
Choose Fencing with Care
That old chestnut “Good fences make good neighbors” isn’t always true. In fact, putting up an 8 foot barrier can feel, to your neighbors, like you’re making a statement. But if you have pets or kids, security is part of the reason that fences are valuable. Your best bet is to chat with your neighbors on the sides you want to fence, to make clear that you aren’t trying to keep them out but rather you’re trying to keep your toddler in. If you can go for a lower or green fence that still allows your neighbors their views, that’s even better.
Be Careful with Color
Yes, you might love bright red exterior walls but your neighbors might not, and they could end up with some concerns about your aesthetic choices. Try to make color and decor choices for the outdoor parts of your home that coordinate well with the neighborhood to keep the peace.
Even with the best of intentions, if you’re remodelling or gutting your home to create a better space, the impact to your neighbors will be high, in terms of noise and traffic congestion, in addition to a bit of an unsightly mess. Talk to them about your plans and what you will be able to do to minimize the impact of the project on them.
Simply being a kind and courteous neighbor will make all the difference to building a good relationship with those living closest to you. Just a simple “heads up” to neighbors that you will be planning a party or erecting a fence can do wonders to avoid hard feelings or worse, feuds. The noise level is much more tolerable if neighbors know you are celebrating some special occasion with family.
To expand this practice to your whole neighborhood, be sure to check out Creating a Safe Neighborhood.
Sophie Kaemmerle is Communications Manager for NeighborWho. NeighborWho’s mission is simply to help you better understand your neighborhood. Learn about your neighbors, the houses on your street, current and past owners, access property reports and lookup public records. Public records are aggregated to compile in-depth reports on properties and people. NeighborWho provides a wealth of information at your fingertips.
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