Being a good neighbor is essential to being part of a community. When you make an effort to be the best neighbor you can, those living near you are more likely to reciprocate. In this guide, we'll discuss some of the best tips for being a good neighbor.
You might wonder if being a good neighbor is worth it, especially if you've never lived in a community before. Being a good neighbor will help you:
- Work towards a safer community.
- Create a friendlier community.
- Have a more fun community.
- Meet new people and make new friends.
- Have people to support and help you.
- Enrich your life and the lives of your neighbors.
- Learn more about the community and area you live in.
So how can you be a good neighbor? There's a lot you can do — and avoid — to make your community a better place to live for everyone.
Certain neighborhoods have particular rules for residents to follow. Rental communities especially have guidelines and ways to enforce them for apartments and rental homes. Part of being a good neighbor in those cases is learning the rules of the area, as that will guide you on how to behave in many situations.
While it's helpful to know the rules in general, it'll also ensure you don't make any mistakes that could upset your neighbors. Guidelines often cover:
- Landscaping requirements
- Guest policies
- Noise levels
- Trash and recycling schedules
- Rules or restrictions for pets
Familiarize yourself with the community guidelines and stay up-to-date if there are any changes. When you know the rules, you can recognize instances where you may be breaking them and correct what you're doing before it disrupts your neighbors or compromises your living situation.
You can't be a good neighbor if your neighbors don't know who you are. Introduce yourself to others when you move in and when new people join your community. When you introduce yourself after moving in, you have the opportunity to get tips and advice from your neighbors about the community and what to do in the area. If you're introducing yourself to new neighbors who have just moved into your community, make conversation by:
- Asking if they are new to the state or area.
- Recommending local services, restaurants and more.
- Offering a welcome gift of snacks, flowers or a local specialty.
- Exchanging phone numbers in case they need anything.
Try to introduce yourself to your neighbors within the first week of moving in, whether you're new or they are. Pick a good time for the introduction that won't interrupt meal times or other activities, with the weekend being optimal for most people. If you feel like you're intruding, make the introduction quick. You could also take a walk around your neighborhood and hope to catch a neighbor while they're outside for a quick hello.
Introductions help settle you or others into the area, but it could also be a good idea to make friends with your neighbors to enrich your community experience. Greet your neighbors as you see them, offer to help them when they need it and do what you can to bring the community together. You don't necessarily have to open your home to all your neighbors all the time, but hosting an event once a year is a great way to catch up and meet anyone new.
Noisy neighbors are never welcome, so make sure you try your best to keep the noise down in your apartment or home. Shared walls will make it even more essential to watch your noise level, but it's also common courtesy to keep the noise down when you're outside or in shared community spaces during quiet hours.
Your community may have quiet hours in place, but if it doesn't, a good rule of thumb is to minimize noise between the evening and early morning. Some common causes of loud noise in a neighborhood include:
- Playing loud music inside.
- Driving around with loud music.
- Revving car engines.
- Mowing the lawn or running other loud equipment.
- Hammering nails into walls or creating other loud building noises.
- Having loud conversations outside.
- Having loud pets, especially barking dogs.
Some noise is unavoidable, but when you can reduce it or confine it to normal hours, your neighbors will surely appreciate it. You should also try to keep parties to a minimum, especially when it comes to noise.
An occasional get-together is often acceptable, but parties every night with tons of people and loud music may quickly get on your neighbors' nerves. Lessen the impact of your party by ensuring your guests don't park in front of your neighbors' homes, and invite your neighbors to make them feel welcomed.
Overall, try to be mindful of the time whenever you plan on doing a noisy activity. Of course, mistakes happen, so if you realize you're outside having a conversation late at night, take it inside and make an effort to apologize to your neighbors the next time you see them. If they contact you to address the noise level while the party, conversation or another disruption is happening, be sure to stop or keep the volume down as they request.
You want your home to have curb appeal, but you may not realize that your neighbors do, too. A messy yard and dirty façade impact the appearance of the entire neighborhood, not just your home, so make sure you:
- Keep lawn equipment, toys, and other items off your lawn when not in use.
- Mow the lawn regularly and up to the standards of your community, if any are in place.
- Keep up on landscaping and gardening to avoid dead or overgrown plants.
- Trim trees, bushes and other plants that sit close to your neighbor's property.
- Touch up paint and clean the outside of your home when necessary.
Your neighbors don't want to put in the effort to maintain their lawns and exteriors to see an unkempt property across the street. Have pride in your home, and your entire community will benefit.
One of the benefits of living in a community is the feeling of added safety. Everyone looks out for everyone else and their properties, and you can help by:
- Offering to house sit when neighbors are away.
- Watching out for suspicious vehicles, people or activity.
- Communicating any suspicious activity to your neighbors.
- Being available to sign for or keep an eye on packages that your neighbors receive while away.
- Joining a neighborhood watch or your community on a neighborhood watch app.
- Calling 911 if you spot a fire, potential break-in or other emergencies.
If you watch out for your neighbors and their property, they're more likely to return the favor. You'll be able to leave your home knowing your community is looking out for you and your belongings.
In rental communities and neighborhoods with close houses, be a good neighbor by respecting everyone's space. This consideration includes knowing where your property lines are and keeping your items off your neighbor's property. To respect your neighbors' spaces, you can also think about:
- Pets: If your community allows pets, don't let them roam around the neighborhood. Walk them on a leash and clean up after them, making sure they stay out of your neighbor's yards.
- Children: If you have children, make sure they only play in your yard. Of course, if your neighbor has kids and invites yours over to play, let them, but make sure they know to treat your neighbor's home and yard with respect. Return the gesture by inviting the neighborhood kids over, as well.
- Public areas: Respect public areas of your community by keeping them clean and taking personal items with you when you leave. These can be outdoor recreation areas or anything from lobbies to hallways of apartment complexes.
- Parking: Rental communities with parking areas require consideration, especially if spots aren't numbered or you have guests. Follow your community's guidelines for parking and ensure you aren't taking your neighbor's spot. Even if they are away, ask for permission to use their spot if you absolutely need it.
Another part of respecting your neighbor's space is recognizing that sometimes, members of the community prefer to keep to themselves. If this happens, don't take it personally, and respect their space.
Don't drop by unexpectedly or offer help or conversation unless they seek it. Remember, some individuals are simply more private than others, and being a good neighbor to them means respecting their space and privacy.
We've heard the phrase "treat others as you'd like to be treated" since kindergarten, and for good reason. Abiding by the golden rule is one of the best qualities of a good neighbor because it helps you remember to treat others with kindness. The way you treat your neighbors often affects how they treat you, so you might want to:
- Participate in a school carpool.
- Offer to help them carry groceries in.
- Shovel their walkway if it snows.
- Help maintain their yard.
Even if your neighbors don't return these good deeds, they may offer to help in other ways. You never know when you'll need someone to watch your home, your pets or your children, and being in good standing with your neighbors acts as a safety net and, above all else, will make you feel like a better person and neighbor.
Social media makes it easier for communities to come together, but if used incorrectly, it can also make them fall apart. Many communities have Facebook pages, and neighbors who are close friends may follow each other on social media.
Even if you aren't friends or following your neighbors on social media, they can still search for you if they want to, which means you need to be mindful of what you say and post on social media, no matter who's following. Common social media etiquette when neighbors are concerned includes these tips:
- Don't post about conflicts with neighbors.
- Don't complain about neighbors in public posts — communicate with them in private instead.
- Don't complain about landlords or other community managers.
- Keep your posts appropriate for any audience.
- Be wary when posting about a party, especially if you invited some neighbors and not others.
- Avoid posting that neighbors are away for security purposes.
Be kind on social media as you would in real life to maintain friendships — or at least civil relationships — with your neighbors.
Disagreements and other issues are bound to happen. In the case of a conflict, passive-aggressive responses won't get you very far. Instead, be sure to communicate about the issue you have and offer possible solutions.
Even if you aren't dealing with a disagreement, you can inform your neighbors of other things, like:
- You're going out of town.
- You're having a party or visitors.
- You see any suspicious or questionable activity.
- You found your neighbor's belongings on your property.
It's usually better to communicate with someone in person, but sometimes that isn't possible. Texting works in the case of a quick question that isn't time-sensitive, and a phone call will work if you can't meet face-to-face.
If a neighbor has a complaint, it's easy to get offended or defensive. Remember, you may make your living situation complicated if you react harshly. Instead, try to see things from their point of view. How would you feel if the roles were reversed and it was you who had a problem with something your neighbor did? You'd want them to hear you out and work with you to solve the issue, so be sure to do the same.
Try to compromise if you believe a neighbor's request isn't quite fair. For example, if they complain about the noise from frequent parties, compromise by:
- Inviting fewer people.
- Keeping the noise down.
- Ending the get-together earlier.
- Having fewer events.
Some communities may have mediation services if the situation escalates, but try to communicate, understand and compromise to avoid further complications.
Looking to move somewhere new? Now that you know how to be a good neighbor, you just need a gorgeous community to call home. At SK Builders, we service over 30 communities throughout Upstate South Carolina, creating efficient designs with quality craftsmanship, perfect for first-time homebuyers or homeowners looking for their dream space.