A recent New York Times article went into detail how neighbor-relations can go sour quickly because of inconsiderate behavior from one side. We thought this seemed reasonable, and set out to make a list of the best and worst ways to be a neighbor- but what we found was surprisingly one sided. In the midst of a mass of Google entries was an immediate observation: people like to complain about their neighbors. They don’t denote experiences of compromise, or make lists of the best things a neighbor can provide (there were maybe one or two!), or even note of situations in which they’ve been a bad neighbor. Obviously, bad experiences often overshadow good ones, but having a neighbor isn’t always a drag.
So, we thought it was time to set the record straight.
There are plenty of great reasons to have a good relationship with your neighbors. Besides the old “needing a cup of sugar” story (which does still happen from time to time!), a community becomes more secure, more reliable, and often less conflicted. If you’ve made friends with your neighbors, but there’s a property dispute, don’t you think you’d be more willing to solve the situation out of court? If you go out of town, wouldn’t it be nice to know that while you’re gone, your neighbor will report any suspicious activity happening at your house? And what if you do need something, like helping moving furniture or that one cup of sugar; having a neighbor that’s also a friend can make your community a lot more communal.
So, you have a neighbor that does something annoying, like leaves their barking dog outside all night, or parks in front of your house or simply won’t mow their yard. Before you run to the phone to call the nightly news on them, take a minute. Have you been a good neighbor to them?
Have you been conscientious of their schedules and living style? A doctor who works long shifts at night may not be very appreciative of your mid-morning jazzercise sessions. Have you been observant of their needs, such as keeping the kids’ toys off of their side of the lawn? If you live in a connected living space or a townhouse, like those we have in our Sorrento neighborhood, maybe you shouldn’t put the blender and surround sound speakers right next to the adjoined walls. Not to say you shouldn’t live your life the way you need to, but if you’ve never even properly introduced yourself to them, maybe there’s a deeper reason they aren’t being more obliging.
Not all people are great neighbors, we know, but you’d be surprised how many people want to be a good neighbor and don’t notice when they aren’t! Talk to your neighbors, make friends, and build a real community around yourself. If you’re new to an area and not sure you want to go door to door, try something like Hey, Neighbor!, which lets you meet the people who live near you conveniently. Actively being a good neighbor will help you make a positive living experience, which is really all we want, right?
Ever had a frustrating experience with neighbors? How did you solve it?