In honor of World Kindness Day (which happened on Nov. 13), also known as Cardigan Day to pay homage to the kindness the popular children’s TV star Fred Rogers promoted, we are offering some advice on how to be a good neighbor. Being a bad neighbor or having a bad neighbor is a common homeowner fear, so check out these tips to make sure you don’t fall victim to that stereotype.
Noise regulations and laws vary by area and noise acceptability depends on what type of dwelling you are in. Being noisy late at night in an apartment building filled with 20-something-year-olds is very different than being noisy in a home on a street with young families. Be cautious and refrain from loud activities, like lawnmowing, hanging pictures, playing loud music or loud voices from 8pm – 8am. In addition, be cautious of close neighbors who have third-shift jobs or swing hours and try to generally keep noise down when you can. You have to live your life and, sometimes, that means living it loudly, but it doesn’t mean you can’t respect others living around you and try to refrain from excessive noise.
2. Curb Appeal
Maintaining your home is a great way to show your appreciation for your neighborhood and everyone in it. It only takes one home to reduce property values for the entire neighborhood and you don’t want to be known as the owner of “that ugly house.” Keep your yard, hedges and trees trimmed, clean up children’s toys and make sure there are no large objects or litter scattered throughout your yard.
3. Social Events
Be a respectful party host. Be aware of loud music and cautious of the noise level, especially late at night. If a neighbor comes over and asks you to turn the music down, be friendly and apologize, then quiet down. They might be sick, they could have had a long day at work or they might have a kid who is having trouble falling asleep. Whatever the reason, be mindful that they live there, too. Also, provide instructions to your guests on where to park. Don’t block other people’s driveways and don’t take up designated parking spots in an apartment complex.
4. Respect Others
Part of being a good neighbor includes understanding good and bad “gossip” and knowing when/when not to spread news. If someone’s relative passes away, communicating this with the neighborhood to attend the funeral or offer support in other areas is good gossip. Alternatively, talking about a rumor that so-and-so was fired or so-and-so are having an affair not only paints you in a negative light, it can spread false information and hurt someone’s relationship or reputation. Don’t spread any information about someone that you wouldn’t want to be spread about you.
Whether it’s dogs, cats, birds or reptiles, pets can be a big irritation between neighbors. Start with the obvious and clean up after your pet. If your dog goes to the bathroom in the neighbor’s yard while on a walk, make sure to pick up after it. You should also keep your dog leashed at all times – you never know if someone is afraid of dogs or if another dog isn’t friendly. Keep all cats as indoor cats, or, if you prefer your cat to be outdoor, make sure it is not wreaking havoc on neighbors’ gardens, plants or birdfeeders. Do your best to keep pet noise low. Some dogs have a bad barking habit and you can avoid upset neighbors with training and trigger therapy. No matter what kind of pet you have, the general rule of thumb is to try to limit excess noise, clean up after it, make sure it’s not disturbing neighbors’ property and respect other’s space by keeping the animal securely contained to your property.
6. Be Welcoming
Above all else, just be friendly! Welcome new neighbors with a plate of cookies or small housewarming gift, wave hello when you drive by, take some time to chit chat if you are both outside, invite them to parties or get-togethers, have dinner with them to get to know them and help introduce them to the rest of the neighborhood. Maintaining a casual friendship with your neighbors not only makes day-to-day living more pleasant, but also allows for easier conversations when issues arise.