Getting along with the people next door is not always as simple as engaging in friendly greetings and maintaining perfectly complementing lawn-care regimens. Too often, we have a firsthand account of a bad neighbor experience – or hear of a friend’s – whether it be a one-time offense or a constant struggle to keep civil.
We might not have the power to choose our neighbors (although one can dream – neighbor interviews anyone?), but we do have the power to be a good neighbor.
Jaded though we could become, deep down don’t we all want to get along with our fellow residents? It’s not as difficult as you might think. And it doesn’t take a huge time commitment to be a friendly presence on the block.
We’ve gathered some tips on how to be the best neighbor, based on personal experiences. Read on for a few ideas sure to win you the title of “neighbor of the year.”
The Big 3
First impressions truly are fundamental, especially with the people who live in close proximity to you. But despite the physical closeness, many people have had so few interactions with their neighbors that the first impression is often one of the only memories made.
Luckily, if you live in a Stroll neighborhood, you’re finding out about all your neighbors through your monthly newsletters and events. But the first impression still counts!
A simple knock on the door of the new neighbors down the street and a friendly “hello” are great ways to start. It’s a non-committal way to say “welcome,” introduce yourself, and ask if they need anything. There. That was painless.
Now, if you’re going for the role of the favorite or go-to neighbor, you could take things a step further. This is also where you can get creative or share your personality. Introduce a favorite local fare such as a nice jar of honey or a hand-poured candle from your favorite craftsperson. Bring warm cookies for the kids or a biscuit for the dog. And remember, a simple greeting will do just fine – it’s the thoughtfulness that will cement a lasting impression.
Now that we have the introductions out of the way, let’s start with a softball. It doesn’t take much to be considerate of others.
Sure, there are no-brainers like not revving up the mower at 6:00am on Saturday mornings right after throwing a rager until 3:00am the night before. We can move past these courtesies quickly. But even when you’re having a classy soiree with a few friends in the backyard, do consider the noise level. Better yet, invite the neighbors over!
There are homeowners associations (HOAs) for good reasons. Many of those started out because of disrespectful residents, and we’re thankful for HOAs and how they help keep our neighborhoods in ship-shape! It doesn’t have to be said – thanks to great HOAs – that the garbage and recycling pails need to be out of sight and our lawns need to be cared for.
The neighborly way to be considerate, however, is to go even a little out of your way to be respectful. If there’s a new baby next door, offer to drop off groceries on the front porch. If an elderly neighbor finds it difficult to bring said garbage pail out to the curb once a week, offer to wheel it out and back for him or her. The willingness to lend a helping hand is a classic trait of a good neighbor.
So much of the angst and strife between houses boils down to poor communication. Yes, if neighbor Bob’s garage band is keeping you up way past your bedtime, it’s easier to complain about it to everyone but him. But direct (and polite) communication can help find a common ground and compromise for situations such as these. And the “neighborhood gossip” title is not a consolation prize for “best neighbor!”
If you’ve never had an issue with the person next door, consider yourself extremely lucky and rare. Congratulations – you and your neighbors are perfect angels!
If you have had an issue, don’t sweat it. After all, the more you get to know someone, the more you will see that they’re human. If there’s ever an issue or misunderstanding, talk it out, shake hands, and don’t dwell on the past.
Short & Sweet Gestures
Bring a Meal
If you feel comfortable and know your neighbors well enough – especially if you know they’re going through a busy season or it’s hard for them to cook right now – make a little extra food for lunch or dinner and bring it over. Better yet, invite them in to share a meal with you and your family.
If a meal is too much for you to take on right now but you’d still like to let them know you’re thinking of them, consider what other foods or beverages your neighbors enjoy. Drop off their favorite coffee order on the porch and text them to check the front door. The same goes for snacks and desserts.
Share Your Bounty
No, not your paper towels, but perhaps your garden is overflowing with peppers or tomatoes. Share the bounty! Or maybe you’re about to get rid of an overflow of children’s toys and clothes. Invite the new mom next door to take what she likes before you send the items off.
Share Your Holidays
Whether it’s handing your neighbors your annual family card with a nice note or simply telling them your plans and explaining how and why you celebrate during certain times, it’s fun to engage around holidays. It gives you something to share with them and also an opportunity to learn about those around you.
Be a Connector
This one really helps if you’re the type of person who thrives on meeting and introducing new people. Connect people in the neighborhood to one another when you think they’d get along or they have a particular interest or hobby in common. Or if they’re looking for a particular service, give them the scoop on a trusted local business you’ve used as well.
We know you’re already a great neighbor, but we hope these tips and gestures, big and small, spark an idea to be the best neighbor you can be. At Stroll, we deliver neighborhood connections, sharing stories and photos that bring families together. If you’re interested in bringing a Stroll publication to your neighborhood, we invite you to learn more.