It seems like nearly everyone has had an awful neighbour at one point or another. Maybe it was the person who seemed to track your every movement and asked prying questions at every encounter. Or maybe it was the loud neighbour who seemed to think he was living in a soundproof box, playing his stereo at all hours and hosting raucous parties.
But for every terrible neighbour, chances are you had one that was a great neighbour. They watered your plants while you were away, respected your privacy and need for sleep and never left their trash cans out for days after pickup time.
Chances are that no one ever sets out to be an awful neighbour. But by keeping a few tips in mind, you can actually be a great neighbour — the one that everyone will miss if you ever move away.
Remember when you were small, and there was someone in your neighbourhood who never talked to anyone and came across as mean, or even strange? Do you want to be that person? Being social with your neighbours doesn’t mean that you have to be the neighbourhood cheerleader, but make a point of smiling and saying hello when you encounter others. Also, consider hosting a neighbourhood picnic or party — or at least attend one if you’re invited — to get to know the people who live around you and build camaraderie.
In some places, such as planned communities, there are established “quiet hours” that residents are expected to respect. Even if there aren’t rules about noise in your neighbourhood, be respectful of your neighbours and their needs. Obviously, avoid playing loud music or having parties late at night, but pay attention to your noise in the morning hours as well. How would you feel if someone was banging a hammer or mowing a lawn at 7 a.m. on a Sunday?
Keep Your Yard Neat and Tidy
Overgrown grass, trash in the yard, children’s toys everywhere, the broken gutter that you’ve been meaning to fix — it all adds up to an eyesore in the neighbourhood. And if one of your neighbours is trying to sell their home, your messy property can reduce their home’s value. Your yard doesn’t have to be a showplace, but keep it neat and clean out of respect for your neighbours.
Control Your Animals
Regardless of the breed of dog, no one wants to find “gifts” in their yard. When you walk your dog, clean up after him, and don’t let him run free and soil other people’s property. Also, address any excessive barking issues. A dog that barks all day, every day, is going to annoy everyone in the area.
One of the best ways to avoid problems with your neighbours is to communicate with them. If you plan to have work done on your home that could create extra noise or traffic, or if you’re having a large party, let them know ahead of time, and consider inviting them to the party. Ask if it’s okay to have your guests park in front of their homes. Sometimes, a simple heads up is the best way to avoid a confrontation later.
Respect Others’ Privacy
While you may be curious about the goings-on at your neighbour’s house or rumours you’ve heard around town about the state of their marriage, their health or their finances, avoid prying. If a neighbour offers information, offer encouragement or sympathies, and keep the information to yourself.
Lend a Hand
If you know that a neighbour has brought home a new baby or been ill, stop by with a home-cooked dinner, or offer to help with yard work or other chores until he or she has returned to health. If you see a neighbour struggling with a number of packages, help her carry them in. Simple kindness can go a long way to building a solid neighbourhood.
Monitor the Neighbourhood for Crime
While chances are you don’t need to patrol the neighbourhood for criminals, keeping a vigilant eye out for suspicious happenings can prevent a serious crime from occurring. If you notice something is off — a door left open when no one is home, an unfamiliar car driving around the neighbourhood — take note of the details and call the authorities. It may be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry — and your neighbours will thank you.
Many of the principles of being a good neighbour are simply common courtesy. But by adhering to these general principles, you’ll be well-liked and, more importantly, a key part of building a strong and cohesive community.
About the Author: Genevieve Booker writes about parenting and kids for her own blog and for a number of large parenting publications. As a resident of Mandalay Beveridge, she works hard every day to be a great neighbour.