How to Be a Good Neighbour
A popular previous blog on Van Man York dealt with the complex situation of living beside nightmare neighbours. Obviously, we sincerely hope that you never need to follow the advice that we offer in that article!
Perhaps more importantly, though, we also hope your own neighbours don’t have that particular page bookmarked. Have you ever wondered what kind of neighbour you are, and what your reputation is within your street?
Ordinarily, no news is good news. If your neighbours do not complain about you to your face, and you maintain cordial relationships, you likely do not need to worry. All the same, let’s take a look at 5 ways that you can ensure that you’re a good neighbour.
Be Friendly, But Respect Boundaries
Some people, especially those living in big cities, do not exchange two words with their neighbours. If this arrangement works for both parties, there is nothing wrong with that. All the same, it cannot hurt to make a little effort to get to know the people next door.
This can be something of a tightrope. Being friendly and cordial with your neighbours is great, but nobody wants to feel like they live next door to a snoop. Introduce yourself, and exchange names. Things will just get awkward if you have to resort to saying, “good morning … you” after months because you never learned how to address those that live close by. Keep things topline, though. Do not immediately start asking personal questions – wait for this information to be volunteered. It can be a little overwhelming to feel like you’re being interrogated by the new occupants of the house next door. You’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other. Do not try to force a friendship when you could let it grow organically.
Respect Communal Areas
If you share space with a neighbour, this must be respected. One person taking more than what belongs to them can be a common cause of neighbouring disputes.
If you share a driveway, for example, do not fill every spare inch of space with a fleet of cars. If there is room for two vehicles, that means one each – that’s just good manners. If you have more than one car, and your neighbour also needs to park, find somewhere else to leave your second mode of transport.
Communal outside spaces are also important, especially if you live in an apartment block. You have as much right to use these spaces as anybody, but this does not supersede their own right to relax. Do not sit in a shared garden playing loud music morning, noon and night, or decide to turn such a space into a personal exercise arena.
Be Mindful of Noise
Excessive noise is one of the biggest complaints that most people have about their neighbours. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a detached house, you’ll likely share walls. This means that you need to be mindful of how much racket you are subjecting your neighbours to.
If you have children, some degree of leeway will typically be granted as standard. Do try to respect that these are your children though, not anybody else’s. You may be used to them making noise all day, but it does mean that everybody in the street wants to listen to it. The same applies to pets. Don’t leave a dog home alone to bark up a storm all day while you’re away, blissfully ignorant of the annoyance.
Notify your neighbours of any impending noisy activity, too. A housewarming party is to be expected, but it’s common courtesy to let people know. If you’re planning home improvements, spread the word and avoid drilling or using loud tools too early in the morning or late at night.
Learn the Unwritten Laws of the Neighbourhood
Every community has its own unique quirks and foibles. If you take the time to learn these, you can ensure that you remain in the good graces of your neighbours. Examples of this could include:
- Ensuring your keep your front garden neat and tidy
- Avoiding deliveries that your neighbours need to take in for you while you’re at work
- When and how the neighbours like to put out their bins on collection day
- Which homes are populated by elderly or vulnerable residents that may need support from time to time
Obviously your home is your own, and you don’t need to fall in line with everybody else in every way. All the same, there’s nothing wrong with making the effort to fit in. It’s rarely a significant inconvenience, and it’s surely preferable to being the black sheep of the street.
Offer More Than You Ask For
We have mentioned a few times that good neighbours are often willing to pitch in and offer favours on occasion. That’s great – but try to give more than you receive. Your neighbours are likelier to lend you their lawnmower or keep an eye on your property while you’re away if you do not constantly ask for help.
Always ask yourself how you can make your neighbour’s life easier. If you’re shovelling snow from your own driveway in the winter, do theirs at the same time. If you grow your own vegetables and have a surplus, offer some to the family next door. If you’re up a ladder washing your top-floor windows, ask if theirs could do with a quick wipe down while you’re there.
This largely ties in with the first of our suggestions – be helpful without pestering. Most people feel more comfortable asking for help if they know they know it will be reciprocated. Ultimately, nobody likes a needy neighbour that offers nothing in return.
Follow this advice, and your will be considered an asset to your street. You don’t need to be best friends with those that live nearby – but having a little goodwill in the bank never hurts.