What Makes a Good Neighbor?

They say good fences make good neighbors, but we’d argue that’s probably not the only criteria.

And being a good neighbor has benefits. The time and effort you put into making your neighborhood a better place can:

  • Make your home safer, encouraging the neighbors to look out for you, and each other.
  • Keep property values high.
  • Help you make new friends with people who live on your street!
  • Get you more invested in your neighborhood, which makes it a nicer, better place to live overall.

But most of us have been trained to sort of live our lives and retreat. Being a good neighbor is a skill a lot of people have lost.

But if it’s a goal you’d like to set for yourself in this New Year, here are some tips you can follow.

Keep your front yard as nice as possible.

One of the hardest lessons new homeowners have to learn when they transition from rental or apartment living is the actions of one neighbor can impact everyone else in a tangible, financial way. You may think a lawn full of high grass isn’t a big deal because it doesn’t bother you.

Meanwhile, all your neighbors are freaking out over the way your home is lowering their property values. And maybe their sense of living in a clean, nice, safe neighborhood.

Offer a favor.

Neighbors too busy to get their garbage cans off the curb? Pull them in for them.

Neighbors going on vacation? Offer to check in on their homes every now and then.

Find out your neighbor is going through a crisis? Bringing over a casserole is a time-honored tradition.

Don’t do anything you don’t have time or energy to do. That’s just a good way to build up resentment. But if you’re feeling alright about it, taking the time to do your neighbors a good turn is something they’ll notice and appreciate.

Deal with your pets correctly.

Don’t let your dog run around all over the place (this is where a good fence can come in handy).

Scoop the poop. You wouldn’t want someone else’s dog poop in your yard, so don’t leave it in other people’s. Scooping is just a part of life when you own pets, even if you own a dog who does his stuff outside.

Do some entertaining!

Don’t be afraid to bring people over one-on-one for a cup of coffee. Don’t be afraid to host a block party, either.

Of course, you’ll want your house and yard to be as clean and presentable as possible when you do. But if you want to create a close-knit neighborhood where the neighbors all talk to each other and form friendships, sometimes you have to be the one to take the first step.

Communicate.

You’re all sharing space together. Like it or not, you’re all part of one another’s lives.

So when you have a problem, say so. Up front and face to face, politely and without rancor. And if your neighbor approaches you with a problem, try to handle it the same way.

Don’t forget you should communicate even when your knee-jerk reaction is to conclude your decisions are nobody else’s business. For example, we recommend talking to each of your next-door neighbors before building a new fence.

Welcome new neighbors.

Pay attention when moving vans roll into your neighborhood. While you don’t want to pounce on your new neighbors while they’re still wrestling the sofa through the front door, it might be nice to stop by and introduce yourself a few days later.

You don’t even have to bring brownies. In today’s day and age we’re all so isolated that stopping by to say hello can be enough to let your new neighbors know they’ve moved somewhere different: somewhere they can be proud and happy to live for many years to come.

And that may mean they get invested in being good neighbors too. Win-win for everyone!

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