The Do's and Don'ts of Beiing a Good Neighbour
Some new neighbours moved into the house across from us last month. After getting to know my new neighbours it came up in conversation that we are the only family in the area they have met. I know everyone is busy these days but this completely shocked me. Is being a good neighbour archaic? Did I miss a memo?
The way I see it, there are some basic do's and don'ts that I always follow as far as neighbours, new and old, are concerned.
1. Don't rush. Assume that in the first few days your new neighbours will have more important things to do than meet you. Leave it a few days or so to go over and properly introduce yourself, have a chat and get to know them better.
2. Do offer food in the first few days. This may seem like a contradiction to #1, but it really isn't. We all know how exhausting and stressful a move can be. Pay a quick visit with a prepared lunch or dinner. Let your new neighbours know who you are and where you live, offer the food and excuse yourself as having something to do or somewhere to be. Try not to linger too long or they may feel obligated to invite you in and the house is likely in chaos. They'll be grateful you excused yourself, trust me you won't seem off standish.
3. Do try and establish whether they are completely new to the area. You may be able to offer valuable information, in my case a shortcut to the town centre which shaves about over a mile off the journey and cuts out a really big hill on the way home with heavy bags. Offer the information you may take for granted, when rubbish bins are emptied, recycling collections days, the location of the "good" butcher or bakery. Simple things which may otherwise take a long time to figure out.
4. Do offer to help, and mean it. If you genuinely believe that you are very busy and aren't in a position to help, don't offer. Offering assistance and then refusing every request is worse than not offering at all. If you happen to be going to the shops, ask if they need anything. They may not have time to do this themselves and not having to think about going to get bread and milk when they're trying to get all their ceilings painted before the carpet guy arrives can be a great relief. Maybe is they have little kids and so do you, you could offer to let them play in your garden with your kids. You can keep them well fed and watered and they're still in mum's line of sight without being under her feet. You know how much more can be accomplished during child free time.
5. Do keep in touch. You've made the first move, now keep up the good work. Say Hi when you see them in the street, stop for a chat if you both have the time. Encourage the kids to play together if you have them. Be polite and considerate, but also respect boundaries and privacy. Don't get a reputation at the nosey neighbour who calls by everyday.
1. Do help your elderly neighbours. The most important thing in my opinion is to consider you're elderly neighbours. Help them at every opportunity. I always help an elderly couple who live directly facing me. They're a lovely couple and are always very nice to Toots. While they do have children of their own around my age, they don't visit. They are capable of getting about themselves as they do drive, but living on a pension can be difficult enough without spending half of it on petrol just to go and buy groceries. I always shop for them and if I'm ordering online before Christmas I place an order for them too. Try to think about the little things, if you're cutting your own lawn would it be so much hassle to cut theirs while you're at it. Making dinner, make a bit extra.
2. Don't be a noisy neighbour. A lot of people today are very firmly entrenched in their own little bubble and its true that some people are very unaware of their own noise. Try to be respectful of your next door neighbours while inside and everyone else while outside. I'm not saying that you should tip toe around on egg shells, everyone has to make some noise to some degree, just be nice about it. Planning some noisy work, let your neighbours know ahead of time. Nobody wants to plan a barbecue or get together with friends only for you to start jackhammering an old patio right in the middle of it. And if your neighbours have kids who regularly play in their own garden, don't be that person who sits talking on her mobile in her own garden, swearing like a sailor at the top of her voice. Nobody likes that person.
3. Do always know the whereabouts of your kids. They might think that its perfectly harmless if they kick a ball into your neighbours garden and have to go and ask for it back. You might agree. Your neighbours won't if its happened 18 times in one day. Your neighbours don't want to feel like they have to babysit your kids while your in the garden swearing like a sailor on your mobile.
4. Do look after your animals and clean after them, especially if your garden is attached to a neighbour's garden. Nobody wants to go out into the garden on a hot summers day to cool off and be hit by the smell of dog mess. That stuff stinks on a hot day and just because its in your garden doesn't mean it doesn't travel. Make sure that if you're gong to have animals that you train them properly. If the dog goes absolutely nuts when someone walks by your house when you're home and you have to tell the animal to be quiet, assume that they also do the same thing when you're not at home, except then its without restriction and can go on for hours.
5. Do accept any complaints from your neighbours with grace. Try not to go on the offensive, claim you don't know what they're talking about and close the door in their face. Bear in mind that the law is NOT on the side of disruptive neighbours. The problem will not go away just by closing a door. Believe it or not your neighbour was being extremely nice by trying to call the problem to your attention first. They had a multitude of other options open to them, most of which involve complaining to an authority. Did you know that excessive dog barking in a built up area in the UK can land you with a fine of £1000 for each animal and for each offence. That can add up to a hell of a lot of money. Try to sort out problems amongst yourselves and only contact authorities if you feel your complaints are being ignored.
When dealing with neighbours, respect is the key. Always be respectful of your neighbours and you can expect the same in return.
What do you think? Are you a nice neighbour? Do you have an awful neighbour (in case it wasn't immediately obvious, I do)? How do you greet your new neighbours?