It’s rare these days for neighbors to actually be neighborly. For the most part, it seems people are content to live in their homes without actually knowing the people who live next to them. Sure, they may wave occasionally when they see a neighbor getting their mail, but they don’t know their names or really anything about them. But, that’s not the way it always was or the way that it should be, and some people these days need a lesson in what it means to be a good neighbor.
10 Ways to Be a Good Neighbor:
1. Be welcoming.
There comes a point where it feels awkward to start up a conversation with a neighbor that you’ve lived next to for months or years, so the best thing to do is to meet your neighbors as soon as they move in (or as soon as you move in – if they don’t take the initiative). And, of course, it’s always polite to bring a welcome meal or cookies to new neighbors.
2. Strike up a conversation .
When you see your neighbor in his or her yard, do more than wave. Strike up a conversation and get to know your neighbor better. Stick with safe (non-controversial) topics, at least until you get to know your neighbor fairly well.
3. Don’t be snoopy.
If your neighbor invites you inside his or her home, don’t be snoopy. Just because your neighbor invited you inside, doesn’t mean he or she wants to give you a tour of every room. In the same way, don’t pry into your neighbor’s personal life. Allow your neighbors to open up about their lives in their own time without prying for details.
4. Be responsible for your pets.
If you want your neighbor to like you at all then don’t let your dog bark at all hours of the night. Also, don’t let your dogs use your neighbor’s yard as a toilet. My parents had neighbors who did this for years. These neighbors would wave at my parents as their dogs did their business on my parent’s lawn, and they’d continue on their walk like nothing had happened. Bottom line: don’t let your pets become your neighbor’s problem.
5. Throw a block party.
One of the best ways to meet your neighbors is to throw a block party. Hosting a block party doesn’t have to be hard either. Invite the neighbors with even address numbers to bring a dessert and the neighbors with odd address numbers to bring an appetizer.
6. Keep your yard tidy.
Don’t let your yard turn into a jungle. Keep it mowed and tidy, and don’t leave a million kids’ toys on the lawn. Your neighbors may not notice how hard you work to keep it tidy, but they will certainly notice if you make no effort at all.
7. Mow your neighbor’s lawn if they are sick or going through a hard time.
On the other hand, if you know that your neighbors are going through a hard time, don’t hesitate to mow their yard for them (assuming you know they won’t mind). One time we came home to a freshly mowed yard after our son had been in the hospital. It was such a blessing, and we felt so grateful to our kind and generous neighbors.
8. Don’t ask for too many favors.
Just because your neighbors live right next door, doesn’t mean that they want to constantly be at your beck and call. It’s fine to ask for a favor now and then, but if you ask for too many favors, your neighbors may start to feel like you are taking advantage of them. Keep favors to a minimum and make sure your neighbor genuinely doesn’t mind doing what you’ve asked of them.
9. Give your neighbors some space.
Even neighbors who have good relationships with each other, still need to have good boundaries. Don’t go into your neighbor’s house without their invitation. Don’t keep a conversation going when you can tell your neighbor needs to attend to other things. If you do need to talk about something specific, ask: “Is this a good time to talk?” Many well-meaning people overstep their boundaries with their neighbors, and soon find that their neighbors have shut them out almost completely.
10. If you want good neighbors, start with being a good neighbor.
The truth is, you can’t control your neighbor, but you can be a good neighbor yourself – and sometimes that makes all the difference in the world.