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How to be a Good Neighbor

Want to get along with your neighbors 100% of the time? That may be wishful thinking. But with these tips, you can surely build a friendly and cordial relationship.

Exchange Favors

When you are getting to know your neighbors, one of the quickest ways to get to know someone is to exchange favors. The problem is that people tend to not like to be the first one to ask for help. If you can be the first one to ask for a small favor, you’ll likely see that your neighbor is willing not only to help, but will also engage in a little extra conversation.The first time we hosted a big Thanksgiving, I realized that I didn’t have enough tables and chairs for all the people who had RSVP’d. I could have called a party rental store, but I decided to ask my next door neighbor first. I knew she often hosted family at her house, and although I didn’t know her very well at the time, I thought it might be worth an ask. Not only did my neighbor let me use a couple folding tables and a bunch of chairs, but she also started telling me about her family, gave me a tour of her home, and a hug when I returned everything the day after Thanksgiving. By asking her for a favor, I was able to form a new friendship.

Keep Neighbors Informed

As a general rule, people are nosy and like to know what’s going on around them. Most people don’t like change either. For this reason, I’ve always found it best to keep our neighbors informed when things are changing around our home. When we go out of town, I try and let our neighbors know that our dog-sitter would be staying at the house so they weren’t suspicious of the stranger letting himself in. If we are having a dinner party, I try to let them know that cars are going to be filling the cul-du-sac. If I suspect the party is going to go later than 10 pm, I let them know what time I think things will wrap up so they aren’t sitting there fuming until our friends leave. I also make sure our neighbors have my email and phone number so they can call me if they aren’t sure about something happening at our house, or tell us if they are bothered by noise.

Speak Like Grownups

This next one is my personal pet peeve. Our house is in a community that is governed by an HOA, which means that anyone within the community can file complaints against other homes in the community. Now, this can have its place, but I have personally had experience with a neighbor who says nice things to your face then complains to the HOA. As someone who worked with kids for years, I realize there is a time and a place for tattlers, but as adults, I think most issues can be solved through face-to-face conversations.

Before you call your HOA or community manager about your neighbor, do me a favor: go knock on their door. Like I mentioned earlier, most people are not trying to be the neighborhood bother. Telling them how their actions are affecting you can almost always help you come up with a solution that works for everyone. If you call the HOA, the person you complain about will likely get a fine. I personally know people who have incurred thousands of dollars trying to deal with a single complaint filed to an HOA about them. It’s NOT worth filing every silly little complaint about people who may bother you in your neighborhood.

If you aren’t comfortable knocking on your neighbor’s door, give them a call, send them an email, or Facebook message them—whatever you can do to resolve the issue before taking it to a community manager.

Gather Together

The final tip to being a great neighbor is to get together with your neighbors. The more you can get together, the more you can get to know each other, which makes those not so fun conversations easier to have in the future. It would be nice to think that everything is going to go smoothly with your neighbors for all of eternity, but in reality, you are probably going to have a disagreement at some point. Build up a bank of trust and friendship to help you get through the rougher situations.

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