By Alek S.
When is the last time that you said hi to a neighbor? Talked over the hedges about your lives? Went next door to borrow a cup of sugar? In our modern world, it’s easy as blinking to talk to someone across the country on Skype. And yet, we seldom get to know the people who live closest to us.
Getting to know your neighbors is more important than most of us think. They’re the closest resource in case of an emergency, the easiest people to turn to when you need someone to clean newspapers off your driveway when you’re on vacation. Happy relationships will prevent legal conflicts, and a neighbor might be just the friend your child needs when they’re starting at a new school. More than anything, you have a powerful ability to positively affect your neighbors’ lives as their friend, just as they can influence your family’s daily life.
Make a good effort to meet your neighbors
Being an invisible neighbor is not the same as being a good one. People like to know who they live by. They want to put a name to a face and a face to a house. Whenever you are moving into a new neighborhood, or notice that somebody new is moving into yours, always make a good effort to introduce yourself and be friendly. If you are the newcomer, ask questions that you have been curious about, like about other families in the area, or even where their favorite local restaurant is. If you are meeting someone who just moved in, offer advice about these same sorts of things, but try not to come off as a know-it-all. Here are some creative ideas:
- If you have a party at your house, let your neighbors know, and invite them.
- Next time you bake, make some extra and take them to your neighbors. Everyone appreciates a kind gesture.
- If you have excess of some crop growing in your garden, spread the wealth around.
- Go caroling with your family as the Christmas season approaches.
- Take time to chat when you trick-or-treat this year.
- Go on regular walks in the morning or evening and say hi to people you see.
- Spend time in your front yard, doing gardening work, or playing with your kids.
Consider their living situations
Everybody around you has a different lifestyle, even when it may seem cookie-cutter on the surface. When you are meeting your neighbors, take the time to find out a little bit about their specific lifestyle. It will help you be more considerate to the specific needs that they might have. If you’re next to an elderly widow, you may be able to help out now and then with driving or putting groceries away. Considerate conversations can also make it easier for neighbors to be accommodating of your needs. Say, for example, your neighbor’s teenage daughter is in a rock band that practices in the garage. You’ll be able to communicate with them about when is a good time to be noisy, and when it might rub people the wrong way. It can also give you a good read on how social they are, and how much contact they will actually appreciate.
Keep your curb appeal high
If a person is purchasing a house and moving in, they are not only looking for a place to call home, but they are hoping that the equity on the property will improve. When housing prices in a neighborhood rise, everybody living there benefits, financially. Although there are certain factors that determine equity that will be beyond the control of citizens in a community, there are other ways to be proactive. For example, the collective curb appeal of a neighborhood will affect the price of everyone’s home. So, always keep this in mind with your home and yard maintenance. This includes keeping your landscaping tidy and neat. However, you can definitely get more creative with this and do things like creating a great entryway (here’s a great article about how to do that) or clear up any things that might fail a home inspection (which can bring down the price of a home, and the entire neighborhood, as explained in this useful blog post here).
Be conscious of your animals (and theirs)
Of all the things that can cause tension between neighbors, animals are certainly one of the most common. Nobody likes to have parts of their property destroyed or messed with. And animals, especially dogs, have a knack of being culprits of this exact thing. Make sure that you talk with your neighbor about your animals and how they feel about them. This also helps if your neighbors have pets that cause problems for your family, like a dog who loves to howl at midnight, or a cat that your child is allergic to. Keeping an open line of communication is in the best interest of all parties, so definitely always strive to do just that!