Note: This blog was written before COVID-19. Please use all safety precations when considering any of these tips.
Good neighbors are like whipped cream on your cocoa, they can make the ordinary so much better! When you have good relationships with neighbors, it can be fun to come home at the end of the day and even to work in the yard. But bad neighbors on the other hand, um, not so much. We’ve collected some tips on how you can help create a neighborhood you’ll enjoy living in for a long, long time. Spoiler Alert: much of this comes down to the Golden Rule — treating others the way you would like to be treated.
Start Off on the Right Foot
Being the new guy on the street can be a bit intimidating. What if the neighbors aren’t on board with your preferred 7:00 a.m. lawn mowing or elaborate holiday light displays? No matter what your, or their, idiosyncrasies, it pays to be proactive in nurturing positive neighborhood relationships. When you move into a new home, walk right over and introduce yourself to your neighbors.
Rachel Gattuso bought her new home last summer and she worked on building relationships right away to develop a sense of shared community. “When I had my dead tree felled, I asked them to stack the wood on the side of my house. Then I went to all my neighbors and let them know they could take what they like,” she says. “The other day I got a lovely little thank you note! I also had to bug a neighbor to help me jump my car the other morning. To say thank you, I brought a bottle of wine. When I was out of town this last weekend, he texted me to say he moved an Amazon box to my back porch. So, it seems to be working.”
Welcome Them to the Neighborhood
Being proactively neighborly works both ways. When a new neighbor moves in near you, introduce yourself to them. Cindie Geddes says she tries to take this preemptive approach. “When a new neighbor moves in, I introduce myself, give them all my family's contact info, and tell them 1) about my big dog and 2) about the fact that I can't hear him barking when I'm in my office,” she says. “I also explain what I do to reduce barking, but that sometimes I forget, and a quick call is always appreciated. Neighbors have come and gone, as have dogs, and we've had not one problem in almost 20 years.” She says the added benefit is that she gets to know her neighbors.
Liz McFarland is on the other side of the dog situation, and she has proposed a rather unique solution. “We now have a neighborhood dog that barks all day every day,” she shares. “I'm thinking of going on NextDoor.com and asking if they need their dog to hang out at my house during the day. Maybe the human and dog interaction would help.”
To Have a Good Neighbor, Be a Good Neighbor
Missy Smithart Evenson experiences the reciprocal value of being a good neighbor on a regular basis. “My neighbors have a puppy and their yard is not yet fenced and I have provided them fencing materials from fence panels I bought years ago and a swivel stake and tie-down for their puppy when they have him outside,” she shares. “Prior to the swivel, when I would hear him crying, I knew he was tangled. I would just go over and untangle him. These neighbors have three delightful children who come over and pick up my fruit and water my flowers when I’m out of town.”
Sometimes being a good neighbor means keeping your thoughts to yourself. As Peggy Geddes shares, “I discovered our neighbor has very different political views than me. I shook his hand and we agreed to NEVER talk politics,” she says. “We discovered we had a lot of other things in common. Look for the positives and don't bring up the negatives.”
And don’t overlook the value of a simple gift. As Amy Dewitt-Smith, executive director of Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada, shares, “Throw carbs at people and they will love you forever. Having my kids write them little notes with the baked goods usually helps with the neighborly niceness, too.”
A refreshing beverage can be just as valuable as carbs. Patty Hess shares, “When a neighbor gives you a bottle of wine, always give them a better bottle when it's your turn!”
Ready to be a good neighbor in a new hood?
Whether you’re a renter and ready to take the homeowner plunge or an existing homeowner ready for a change, check out the Home Is Possible family of homebuying programs. You’ll find information on down payment assistance and other support designed to facilitate the homebuying process for Nevadans. And then continue your quest to create a positive neighborhood by setting a good example. We salute you!