Are you a good neighbor?
Neighbors can feel like a blessing or curse. I’ve had both. Most neighbors fall somewhere in between extremely good and bad.
Here are some quick tips for how to be a good neighbor.
Like a Good Neighbor, Stay Over There!
Having a friendly relationship with your neighbor is a good thing.
However, a good neighbor doesn’t overstay their welcome. The goal is to respect their time and personal space.
Even the Bible warns people not to stay too long.
Proverbs 25: 17 (NIV)
Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
too much of you, and they will hate you.
Meet Your Neighbors at Least Once
You could make some lifelong friends if you meet your neighbors. You’re unlikely to hit it off and become close friends with all of your neighbors. However, you could meet a new best friend.
And if you aren’t interested in forming relationships in the neighborhoods, you can still introduce yourself and learn each other names. You might need their help someday with an emergency.
And waving when you see them outside might feel less awkward if you at least know each other’s names.
If you struggle to remember names, writing down the neighbors’ names can be helpful. I learned this tip from my elderly neighbor, who told me she wrote my name in her notebook after meeting her a few times.
Show Consideration For Smells
Please consider the smells coming from your yard, especially when people have their windows open.
If you smoke, try to avoid smoking close to the neighbor’s house. They might not appreciate the smell wafting into their windows.
Burning leaves in the fall and having bonfires are popular fall activities. However, the smoky scent may cause problems for neighbors. They could have allergies or aversion to the smell.
For example, my neighbor likes to have a small campfire most nights during the summer. However, they don’t extinguish the fire when done, so it slowly burns all night and sometimes into the next day. So, it can be annoying to have the campfire smell in my house for so many hours.
While we all have the right to do activities we enjoy in our yards, you may want to limit them if a neighbor complains or you see them closing windows.
Be Responsible for Your Pets
Please do your best to have your pets do their business in your yard. If your pet does poo in the neighbor’s yard, clean it up immediately.
Also, please keep your pets in your yard whenever you can. Not all neighbors appreciate animal visitors in their yards.
And be sure to follow leash laws for dogs.
Return Promptly After Borrowing
If you borrow something from your neighbor, return it promptly when you finish using it. Please don’t keep it in your garage so long that it begins to feel like yours.
Also, be sure to say thank you for letting me borrow when taking the item back.
And it’s considerate to return the item in the same or better condition. For example, if you borrow their hedge trimmer, clean it before returning it.
Follow the Rules
Follow the guidelines if you live in a community with a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). You likely agreed to them when you moved in.
Also, for any community, for the local rules and ordinances.
For example, only put your trash on the specified day and time.
Keep the Yard Neat
Keep the clutter out of the front yard or an area visible to neighbors.
Mow the lawn as needed. Trim trees and bushes as needed, especially those that hang over the sidewalk, which could interfere with walkers.
So, basically, keep your house and yard from looking like a dump.
If you are struggling with this, local churches or community groups (or some good neighbors) may help clean up the yard.
Lawn Mowing Tips
You may have neighbors that mow their lawn on a schedule, or you might be the excessive lawnmower.
As long as the height of the grass is not breaking any local ordinances, I encourage people to respect the lawn mowing frequency of their neighbors.
My family mows our lawn about half as much as the two closest neighbors. We mow when the grass needs mowed, not because it’s lawn mowing day.
Also, be considerate of the time of day when mowing your lawn. Too early in the morning or too late in the evening may upset your sleeping neighbors.
Keep the Noise Down
When having parties, especially outdoor parties, respect any noise ordinances. Your community may have a set time for noise, such as 10 PM.
If you think your neighbor is being too loud, you may want to contact them directly before calling the police. Hopefully, they will respect your request.
Also, teach your children to keep their voices down when playing outside. When my parents told me the whole neighborhood could hear my siblings and me being loud in the yard, I didn’t believe them. Only after I became a homeowner did I realize they were right!
If you want to be even more considerate regarding noise, don’t set off fireworks that frighten dogs, cats, most wildlife, and people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
When your neighbor asks for a favor or you see them struggling with something, offer to help.
This doesn’t mean letting them take advantage of you if they develop a habit of always needing you to do something for them.
You may need to set boundaries, but be helpful when it feels right.
For example, you could bring in their mail and keep an eye on their place when they go on vacation.
Say Thank You To Your Neighbors
When a neighbor does something nice to say thank you. Let them know that you appreciate them for being a good neighbor.
Examples could be when they shovel your snow, bring you food when you are sick, or help with something else.
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