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Barking dogs. Neighbor’s cars parked in front of your house. Borrowed tools that are never returned. Unfortunately, most of us have lived in neighborhoods were some of these unpleasant behaviors happen. In my experience, the best way to ensure you don’t have a “bad neighbor” is to make sure you are being a “good neighbor.” While you may not be able to get along with your neighbors all of the time, if you want to foster good relationships with your neighbors, you’re going to have to make an effort.
Here are a few practical tips to help you be a good neighbor to those who share your community.
Make an Introduction — If you’re just moving in or you’ve got new neighbors making the move to your area, take a few moments to extend a hand and make an introduction. Stop and say hi next time you see your neighbors outside and welcome them to the neighborhood. Be quick to offer a helping hand or leave a friendly note on their doorstep introducing you and your family. Provide a list of “must have” information about the neighborhood or community, such as: best restaurants, grocery stores, nail salons and coffee shops. These simple gestures can go a long way in helping you be a “good neighbor.”
Keep the Noise Down — Whether you live in an apartment, condo or single-family home, make an effort to keep the noise level down. If you share walls with your neighbors, invest in rugs for hard flooring areas, and set up the kids’ playroom in the room furthest from your neighbors. If you live in a single-family home, be courteous and considerate when it comes to noise, including what time of day you mow your lawn, how loud the music is at your next pool party and how long your dogs have been barking in the backyard. Keep in mind that your neighbors may not keep the same schedule as you — many people work the third shift and sleep during the day. While it’s nearly impossible to be a silent neighbor (unless you live in a rural area), you don’t want to be the one responsible for waking your neighbors up in the wee hours of the morning.
Keep Up the Curb Appeal — You live in a community and it’s everyone’s responsibility to maintain the appearance (and value) of that community. It’s your prerogative if you keep your Christmas tree up year ‘round, but be courteous and take down outdoor holiday decorations at the appropriate time (leaving them up past January is a stretch). Don’t put your garbage out unless it’s trash day, and next time you replace a piece of furniture, an appliance or even your toilet, take the time to have the old one hauled away, rather than moving it to the curb in hopes the trash company will pick it up. Keep your lawn manicured and flowerbeds clear of weeds. Whether or not you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, govern yourself with these guidelines.
Consider Your Neighbors’ Opinions — If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, choices may be limited when it comes to choosing a new paint color for your home, but even without an HOA, don’t go too crazy without consulting your neighbors first. Unless you live in an artsy neighborhood, quirky colors and unique landscaping choices probably won’t fly with your neighbors. You don’t have to ask your neighbors’ permission for every decision you make regarding your home, but keep in mind that the appearance of the homes surrounding you can have an impact on the overall quality and even property values in the neighborhood.
Offer a Helping Hand — It can be difficult for any of us to ask for help. Don’t wait for your neighbors to come asking. Consider mowing your neighbors’ yard next time you’re out mowing your own. Suggest a babysitting swap with moms in the neighborhood to give other moms a much-needed reprieve. Offer to lend extra tables and chairs if you know your neighbor is planning a large gathering. Simple acts of kindness can help you form a friendship with your neighbors, and in most cases, your neighbors will kindly return the favor.
Notify Neighbors of Your Upcoming Gathering — Give your neighbors a heads up next time you’ll be entertaining a large group (and better yet, invite them to join you!) Letting your neighbors know there may be extra cars in the street and even a little extra noise outside can go a long way in keeping a good relationship with your neighbors. Most importantly, be considerate of how long the festivities last. If you’re on the receiving end and have a noisy party next door, have a little patience and ask your neighbor to keep the noise down before calling the police with a noise complaint.
Send a Care Package — When you take time to get to know your neighbors, you’re more likely to be informed of what’s going on in their lives. Are they expecting a new baby, or have they experienced a death in the family? Maybe your neighbors are in the midst of a challenging financial season. Whether they are celebrating or struggling, preparing a care package of goodies can bring a little peace and comfort to your neighbors in a time of need.
Now that you’ve got the tips, start practicing them to be the best neighbor you can be to those in your own community.