How to Be a Good Neighbor
Take care of your neighbors, and there’s a good chance they will take care of you too.
Neighbors aren’t necessarily your close friends, but they aren’t strangers either. Neighbors sometimes share boundaries and fences with you, and they can greatly affect your enjoyment of your home. Since they live so close, they’re well-placed to offer practical support, a fast response in a crisis and genuine friendship. So it’s important to foster good neighbor relations — not only for your benefit, but also for the overall atmosphere and happiness of your neighborhood. Take care of your neighbors, and there’s a good chance they will take care of you too.
Claire Jefford at Creating Contrast Designs, original photo on Houzz
1. Invite them in. Whether your neighbor is new to the area or someone you never do more than just wave at, try inviting him or her in for a relaxed, informal get-together over coffee, tea and cake. Help new neighbors with any settling-in issues and make it clear you’re happy to help long-standing residents too.
2. Think about how neighbors see your home. It’s all too easy to forget about your home’s exterior once you’re inside, but your neighbors look at it on a daily basis. Keep your front garden tidy and free of litter, and trim any hedges or shrubs that may encroach on your next-door neighbors’ space.
Don’t let a footpath or pavement become obstructed by your garbage or recycling bins and be sure to park your car thoughtfully too.
Dafne Vijande, original photo on Houzz
3. Use your outside space considerately. In built-up areas, keep voices and music down when hanging out in the garden or on the terrace. Check in with your neighbor before holding a party or barbecue outside. In larger gardens, don’t mow or use machinery at unsociable hours, but do share your bounty of homegrown fruit, vegetables and flowers.
4. Show respect. While it’s wonderful to be friends with your neighbors, it’s also crucial to respect their privacy. No one wants the contents of their recycling bin discussed or their comings and goings commented on. It’s great to look out for one another, but when that tips into gossip or nosiness, things can become toxic.
Always keep lines of communication open, whatever your relationship with your neighbors, and try to ensure that any issues or disputes stay amicable and are dealt with face to face before taking anything further.
BRIAN PAQUETTE INTERIORS, original photo on Houzz
5. Start a club. Why not launch a local club to foster strong neighborly relations? Start a book group, art club, cinema club or walking group. You could even try setting up a tool or equipment share system so that neighbors can borrow shears or a wallpaper stripper, or you can find someone nearby with a ladder!
6. Check in with elderly neighbors. Give older neighbors your phone number and let them know they can call if they need help. If they’re vulnerable, it’s a good idea to get the number of their closest family member so that you can reach someone in an emergency. Pop in now and then, help with odd jobs or offer to pick up shopping.
Anthos Garden Design, original photo on Houzz
7. Aim for good pet relations too. Make sure that a dog prone to barking in outside spaces isn’t let out late at night or too early in the morning. Don’t let your dog “go” in your neighbors’ outside space, either. Consider offering to walk their dog or feed a cat or fish while they’re away.
8. Inform neighbors of any renovation plans. Discuss plans that may affect your neighbors and keep building work within legal hours. Ensure that your builders don’t block access to the street, leave litter or play loud music. Keep neighbors informed of progress and the finish date.
You could perhaps give them a gift at the end of the build to thank them for their patience, or invite them in to enjoy a glass of wine and see the completed work once it’s done.
Gardiner Architects, original photo on Houzz
9. Hire neighborhood kids for jobs. Local teenagers may be delighted to earn a few extra bucks working at your home, so ask them before looking further afield. Babysitting, gardening, watering while you’re away, car washing and dog walking are tasks they may be happy to take on.
This is not an opportunity to get hard work done for nothing, though — be sure to pay the going rate.
10. Organize a neighborhood event or project. Hold a street party (most local councils will give permission to close a road for this kind of event), or a picnic in someone’s garden or at the local park. Put together a neighborhood cookbook or organize a streetwide garage sale.
Teddy Edwards, original photo on Houzz
11. Be conscious of security. Swap keys with a trusted neighbor, and ask him or her to check the house and collect junk mail while you’re away. Make sure your burglar alarms are serviced and not likely to go off at random. Take in packages for neighbors so that they aren’t left on the doorstep.
12. Acknowledge life’s highs and lows. Good neighbors don’t hide behind their hedges when bad luck visits someone living nearby. Bake a cake or a meal for a neighbor who is ill or recently bereaved, or offer to mow the grass or walk the dog.
Celebrate happy events too. If there’s a new baby in your neighborhood, give a small gift, loan baby things you no longer need or just be ready with an ear.