Posted in: Homeowner tips, Buying a home

10 ways to be a good neighbor

10 ways to be a good neighbor

Key insights:

  • Introduce yourself early and work to remember their names for next time.
  • Ask them about the history of the neighborhood and what you should know as you settle in.
  • Avoid common issues like parking disputes and long-simmering disagreements that can be settled with respect and open lines of communication.

Just moved in, or got off on the wrong foot? Here are 10 ways to work toward a friendly relationship with even the trickiest neighbors.

1. Introduce yourself right away

You may get lucky and run into your next-door neighbors as they’re outside doing yard work or picking up their mail. But if you don’t see them within the first day or two after move-in, take the initiative to knock on their door and introduce yourself in person.

When it comes to neighbors further down the road, keep your eyes open for easy opportunities to connect. If a week or two passes and you want to knock on their doors as well, go for it!

Not great with names? Don't be afraid to ask their name again or clarify as you are ending the conversation. Once you get home, write it down so that you don’t have to ask again, or make a note in your phone.

2. Exchange contact information

As you meet your neighbors, ask for their contact information. Use casual methods like text or email if you drop off a piece of their mail or want to let them know you’ll have a house full of visitors in upcoming days. Be sure to speak face-to-face if you have more important matters to discuss (like a boundary issue, concerns with pets or noise complaints).

You can also ask if there is a neighborhood listserv or if your community is active on Nextdoor, a social media platform that’s neighborhood-specific.

3. Get their history and local insights

Anyone who’s been in the area longer than you will have plenty of fascinating information to share. Ask your neighbors how long they have lived in their house, what they love about the neighborhood and what they’ve seen change over the years. Plus, you can ask about specifics like:

  • The best local utility companies
  • Nearby parks, trails or favorite restaurants
  • Any city ordinances you should know about, like street parking and snow removal

4. Invite them over

Want to establish a friendly rapport? Consider hosting a small, casual breakfast or happy hour for your nearest neighbors. You can choose to invite them individually or together, depending on your space and scheduling.

And if you host an annual holiday party or any larger gatherings throughout the year, be sure to extend them an invite. Even if they don't come, they may be happy to know the date in advance so they aren't confused when the street fills up with cars.

5. Follow their lead, then set your own tone

Some may want to have longer conversations every time they see you, others may opt for a quick hello and wave. Be yourself, but don't force a dynamic.

And if you feel that you need a little less interaction, excuse yourself politely when you feel the conversation has run its course. After a few such exits, most people will pick up that you are not looking for long-winded dialogues.

6. Stay in your lane when parking

While street parking is public parking, some neighbors can get irked if the spots in front of their house are always full with someone else's vehicles. Try your best to park in your own zone and to have guests park there as well.

If you have more cars than you do driveway and garage space, do your best to park in front of your own place when possible, then change up your overflow parking spaces so no one feels permanently encroached upon.

7. Fight passive aggression

Long-simmering disputes between neighbors can become the stuff of legends, but they often begin with a small issue or nuisance that wasn't discussed openly and early. If you feel that your neighbor has become closed off or miffed at you, be sure to ask if you've done anything wrong.

You may not agree with their assessment and you may choose not to change your behavior. But when you know the issue, you can work toward a compromise or more open lines of communication in the future. A little self-reflection never hurts!

8. Play nice online

Remember when your mom said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all?” Well, that goes double now that everyone has instant access to online gripe forums that can be screenshotted and shared to the wrong party.

Be sure not to hide behind your computer if you have issues that need reconciling. Whether you are Facebook friends with neighbors or active on local social media sites like Nextdoor, news of your online complaints could travel swiftly or be misconstrued.

9. Be a “joiner”

Join the neighborhood watch group or ask the local block captain if they need help with anything. Most neighborhood organizations are kept up by the same folks for years or even decades and they’re almost always looking for new neighbors who are willing to pitch in.

10. Be proactive

As you get to know your neighbors better, watch for easy ways you can help them out. If an older neighbor undergoes surgery, mow their lawn until they’re back on their feet. If a family has a baby, offer to drop a meal off on their doorstep as they’re settling into their new normal.

If you know that a neighbor goes out of town for a week in June, ask if you can bring in their mail and water their flowers while they’re away. Chances are, they’ll return the favor when it’s your turn to travel! It never hurts to have somebody in the neighborhood keeping an eye on your home when you can’t be there.

Community begins with you

Whether you move into a neighborhood that’s bustling with activities or an area that’s a little more closed off, take the initiative to get the friendly vibes flowing. Everyone benefits when neighbors work together and look out for one another.

Looking for the right community to call home? Reach out to Edina Realty or your agent to start neighborhood shopping

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