Neighbors. They can drive us crazy or save the day. People tend to have a lot of mixed feelings about neighbors; the more we're able to afford, the further away we move from them. We roll our eyes at them when we hear the lawnmower at 7 AM on a Sunday, but we're always happy to ask them to keep an eye on the house while we're on vacation. Through the good and the bad, neighbors are an essential piece of the suburban living puzzle and like with anything else, we should make the most of their presence. They can become steadfast and lifelong friends, good babysitters, and assets to neighborhood safety. Creating strong relationships with neighbors can sometimes seem like a burden — you might rather cut that lawnside chat short on your way in the door after work, eager to get dinner started. But the benefits can be extensive. Here are 5 simple ways of getting to know your neighbors better and how to be a better neighbor to them in turn.
Offer Your Helping Hand
Take some initiative; let your neighbor know that you're there for them if they need anything and that channels of communication are open. Give them your contact information and let them know what times on which days you're available to be contacted. There's nothing worse for neighbor-to-neighbor relations than bottled-up feelings and the resentment that builds when issues go unresolved. If you let your neighbor know that you welcome their opinions and are happy to work toward common ground with them in the future should anything come up, this will likely be reciprocated and will prevent any bitterness from arising.
No one says that you have to tip-toe around and be as subtle as possible 24/7 in order to be a good neighbor. You certainly don't need to ask permission to host the occasional gathering or to practice your banjo the night before the big exam. But you should always give your neighbors a heads-up. This will help them out in several ways — they could plan ahead and nap earlier or buy a new set of earplugs. It'll allow them to realize during the event that this is not something they'll need to worry about on a regular basis. And, most importantly, it'll give them the impression that you're a respectful neighbor who cares about the community. Likewise, if your neighbor is hosting a get-together and you find their music wafting through your windows, cut them some slack and control your irritation. If these are only occasional occurrences, it's simply not worth cutting ties over one evening.
Introduce Them To Your Pets
Introducing your neighbors to your pets might not seem like a big deal. But if a neighbor is aware of your smallest family members but not familiar with them, you run the risk of them being seen as pests. If your neighbor can get to know the family pets, they won't mind seeing them run into their yard occasionally and may even become a perfect pet-sitter.
Maintain Your Property
Make sure to keep your property neat and groomed so that your neighbors have nothing to worry about. Not doing so can be a nuisance in a variety of ways. From climbing plants winding their way into the neighbors' gardens, garbage left out attracting wildlife, and an upsurge of weeds to the simple aesthetic pitfalls of letting your lawn become overgrown, the pains caused by an unruly piece of property are extensive. So make sure to keep up on your regular maintenance and don't forget to shovel the sidewalk in the winter. If you're feeling extra neighborly, shovel a little bit of their driveway as well!
Host A Block Party
What better way to get to know your neighbors than to host a block party? You'll have that rarely earned chance to discuss neighborhood initiatives and simply familiarize yourself with those who live nearest to you. You'd be surprised to find out how many amazing and unique people live just steps from your own front door! Get a group of hosts together so that you're not bearing the burden of hosting all on your own and make a surefire set of steadfast friends.
Simply Say Hello
Bad day at work? Fair enough. But before you run into your house avoiding the chatty neighbor you spot in the corner of your eye, sacrifice a few minutes to simply say "hi" and ask them about their day. This may not be the first thing you want to do when you get home after a stressful day, but even those couple of minutes can pay off and keep you in the neighbor's good books.
Help Them Out While They're On Vacation
If a neighbor is planning on heading out on holiday, offer to help them by gathering their mail, feeding their cat, or simply keeping an eye out. They'll likely be willing to return the favor when you go off jet-setting; plus you'll be contributing to the overall safety of the neighborhood.
Collaborate On Neighborhood Projects
A great way to get to know your neighbors and improve relationships with ones you already know is to collaborate on neighborhood projects. Whether it's something as lighthearted as a party, a financial initiative such as a garage sale or fundraiser, forming a neighborhood association, or anything else, there is strength in numbers.