Every neighborhood has its own vibe and personality, and the better you fit in with those around you, the happier and more stress-free you will be. If you’ve just moved in, or have lived there awhile but just want to up your good-neighbor game, our tips on neighborhood etiquette will have you fitting in just like family in no time.
Welcome Your New Neighbors
If you see a moving truck, make a note to go over and introduce yourself. Take a small gift like a plant or a dessert and get to know the newbies a little bit. Give them your phone number or email address and invite them to the next neighborhood activity, your jogging group, or the monthly social. The new neighbors will remember your kind gesture and it will set your relationship off on the right foot. Remember, however, they probably don’t want to entertain, so don’t go inside or stay longer than ten minutes at this first meeting.
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Respect Noise Limits
Yes, it’s your house and you can do what you want but be respectful of those around you or risk dealing with some irate neighbors. Avoid mowing your lawn or running the weed eater early on the weekends, and don’t blare your music late at night. If you’re hosting a party, move it inside past ten o’clock, or, at the least, ask people to speak in softer tones. Postpone early morning renovations until your neighbors have had a chance to wake up. Keep your children from being loud outside early in the morning, too.
We mean this, in part, literally. Know your property line and take care not to plant trees or build a fence across it. In addition, while you want to be friendly with those who live near year, accept that you may not be best friends. Don’t go over uninvited, assume you are welcome at every one of their gatherings, or act overly-familiar in general. Sometimes less is more.
Follow the Homeowners Association (HOA) Rules
Rules are made for a reason, and you should respect them. Read the HOA rules and follow them, otherwise you will be rubbing your neighbors the wrong way. Don’t force the HOA to take action against you, which would be embarrassing and probably cause your neighbors to feel negatively about you.
Keep Your Exterior Maintained
A neglected home brings down everyone’s property value and will most likely make you the pariah of the block. Replace or repair anything that is damaged or broken. Keep your paint fresh, your windows and doors washed, and your driveway properly cared for. Mow your lawn and trim your shrubs, rake your leaves, and keep your mailbox nicely maintained. A big neighborly no-no is for your house to be the worst-looking one on the block.
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Abide by the Parking Protocol
Many neighborhood fusses begin over parking rights. First off, don’t park your vehicles in the road, because it’s just not safe. If you own a vehicle that doesn’t run, either have it towed away or put in out of sight in the garage. If you’re having guests over, give your immediate neighbors a heads up and, if you need to use it, ask them if you can use their driveway for the evening. Be sure their vehicles or parking spots aren’t blocked by cars.
Be Nice and Friendly
This sounds so easy but can be a challenge. When you encounter your neighbors, say hello and smile. Even if you’re in a bad mood, late, really wanting to begin your run, or carrying several bags of groceries into the house, take the time to be polite. This small effort will build up goodwill and positive feelings for you.
Avoid Neighborhood Gossip
It’s easy to get drawn into dishing about who doesn’t like who, which neighbors don’t control their kids, and the houses that look terrible. Refrain from it. If the conversation veers into gossip, excuse yourself or attempt to change the subject. Not taking part in gossip ensures your neighbors won’t hear that you’ve been speaking negatively about them.
You don’t need to go broke buying expensive gifts, but it’s a nice, neighborly move to buy a card or small gift for neighbors if you know it’s their birthday, anniversary, if they’ve just had a baby, or one of their children has graduated. Your thoughtfulness will be remembered and appreciated for a long time.
Practice Good Pet Etiquette
We’re talking poop here, people. Don’t let your dog do it on someone else’s lawn without cleaning it up. It’s stinky, nasty, and just plain rude. Failing to pick up after your pooch is an easy way to cause a big neighborhood uproar. In addition, don’t let your pets wander around off-leash. Control your dog’s barking by behavior modification training or bringing them inside, especially if it’s early morning or late at night.
You don’t have to be perfect to be a great neighbor. You just need to try. Practicing neighborhood etiquette will make your home-owning experience positive and enjoyable. While you don’t have to be their best friends, kindness, friendliness, and showing respect will go a long way toward building healthy relationships with those who live close to you. Who knows? You may end up forging some special relationships along the way.