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Neighborly Basics

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Good neighbors don't impose.  But what exactly is an imposition?  As you get to know neighbors and by paying attention to individual lifestyles, customs, and social cues, you'll learn their preferences.  Here are some basics:

  • Greet neighbors whenever you see them.  A smile, a wave, and a pleasant "hello" are probably the easiest way to show neighbors that they matter to you.
  • Have an occasional chat.  There's a lot you can learn through casual conversations.
  • Call ahead before visiting.  Call and ask if it's convenient for you to stop by; not all neighbors happily pop in and out of each other's homes without warning.
  • Limit visits to a reasonable amount of time.  Be attuned to what your neighbors are doing, and leave at the first hint that they're ready for the visit to end.
  • Be considerate of neighbors' schedules.  If you happen to run into each other, say "hello" and then call to make a date to get together.
  • Don't take advantage of a neighbor's expertise or talent.  Living on the same street as a doctor, layer, mechanic, or anyone with special skills doesn't entitle neighbors to ask for free consultations or services.
  • Say thanks for any favors.  Make sure you always say "Thank you," and be willing to return the favor.
  • Be respectful of privacy. It can take some effort not to eavesdrop when living in close quarters.  And never repeat what you accidentally overhear.
  • Be respectful of property.  Always ask for permission before entering anyone's property.

Tips for Apartment and Condominium Dwellers

While you each have your own private space, you share walls, ceilings, and common areas as well.  Keep the following in mind:

  • Common areas - Help take responsibility for keeping common areas neat and litter-free and report any damage to maintenance.
  • Trash disposal - Use designated containers for trash and recycling.  If the bin is overflowing, leave your trash bagged neatly and immediately report the problem to maintenance.
  • Noise - Apartment and condo dwellers accept a certain amount of noise as a fact of life.  Establish quiet times in the morning an evenings.  It's easier to come to an agreement ahead of time than be the subject of someone's complaint.

Tips for Homeowners

As a good neighbor, it's important to keep your property looking neat, and to follow any local ordinances regarding lawn care, trash disposal, and yard sales.

  • Neat exterior - Standards and tastes in property care vary person to person, but so long as neighbors maintain their property, there's no need to criticize their fondness for garden gnomes.
  • Trash - Bag garbage and stash it in tightly lidded containers and secure recycling so it doens't scatter in the wind.
  • Lighting - When you install outdoor lighting, including holiday lights, make sure to consider your neighbor's point of view.
  • Power tool noise - Limit the use of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, power tools, and the like to reasonable times or when permitted by town ordinances.
  • Fall leaves - Falling leaves respect no property lines, and the ones that fall in your yard, even from a neighbor's tree, are all yours. 

Children at Play

It's up to parents to keep a watchful eye: Youngsters can easily forget their manners and the rules of safety when they're curious or caught up in play.

  • Teach children where they can and can't go.
  • Be aware of noise.

Pets

As the owner, you are required to keep your dog under control at all times, and you are liable for any damage to person or property.  Watch out for:

  • Incessant barking.
  • Going AWOL.
  • Aggressive behavior towards passerby.