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Be The Best Neighbor by Doing These 8 Things

best neighbor

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz 

Seeing people bringing a tall ladder or power tool from a neighbor’s house to theirs is a common sight on my block. In the evenings many of us sit outside on the front porch relaxing, and catch up with others who walk by with their dogs or are just out for an evening stroll. When our chickens escaped into a neighbor’s yard, not only were they not angry, but they helped me round up the hens and toss them back over the fence.

Getting along (or not getting along) with neighbors can make a huge impact on our daily lives and how we feel about our home and neighborhood. Whether you live in the city, the country or somewhere in between, learning the art of being neighborly is something that can benefit us all. Here are eight ways to navigate the etiquette of being a good neighbor. When you’re done reading, go pour yourself something tasty to drink and sit on the porch for a spell.

best neighbor

Adrianna Beech, original photo on Houzz

Be friendly.

If you are new to the neighborhood, a friendly smile and hello can go a long way toward establishing rapport with neighbors. Introduce yourself when you run into a neighbor you haven’t met yet. And if you’ve been there awhile and someone new has just moved in, a small gift, like home-baked goods (or a treat from a favorite local shop), is a thoughtful way to welcome him or her.

best neighbor

Mindful Designs Inc, original photo on Houzz

Be considerate about noise.

As a rule, keep music and loud outdoor conversations down after 9 p.m., and try not to start up the power tools or leaf blower before 8 or 9 a.m. If you are planning a party, try to let your neighbors know in advance — and if you enjoy throwing frequent parties, it’s not a bad idea to invite your neighbors to one!

If it’s your neighbors who are being too noisy, your first step should be a polite knock on the door. Tell them, without sounding angry, that you understand they are having a great time, have friends visiting etc., but it’s getting too loud for you, and could they please turn the music down or take the party indoors after a time you feel is appropriate? Be sure to thank them when they do what you’ve asked.

Deal with problems in person.

Just as when your neighbors are being too noisy, any other problem should be addressed promptly and in person. It may seem easier to write a note or dash off an email, but written complaints can seem more mean spirited than you intended, and may shut down communication with that neighbor in the future. Give your neighbor a chance to hear what you have to say in a face-to-face chat, and then listen to his or her side as well.

Remember, your neighbor is likely not going anywhere, so even if you do not particularly like him or her, it is in your interest to find a way to get through it together.

On a related note, don’t gossip about other neighbors! It may feel like bonding to complain about shared problems, but gossiping generally only deteriorates relationships.

best neighbor

Virginia Countryside Cottage, original photo on Houzz

Be reasonable about pets.

This can be a big point of contention among neighbors, so try to tread lightly whether you are the pet owner or the one being bothered by a neighbor’s pets. If something happens once or twice — loud barking, poop on your lawn etc. — take a deep breath (well, maybe step away from the poop first …) and let it go. If there is an ongoing problem, discuss it directly with your neighbor. Even if you are upset, try to think of something kind to say about your neighbor’s pet before launching into the complaint section of your talk.

For pet owners, if a neighbor approaches you with a complaint about your animals, do your best to listen and acknowledge their feelings. Assure them you will do what you can to remedy the situation — scoop the poop, keep your dog on a leash, repair the fence and pay for training if needed.

If you have more unusual pets, such as chickens, it is wise to contact neighbors early on to inform and educate them about their new animal neighbors, and assure them you are taking steps to care for the animals properly so they won’t be a problem — that would also probably be a good time to hand over a basket of fresh eggs! And always, always let neighbors know they can come to you if your pets are being a nuisance.

best neighbor

Hamilton Snowber Architects, original photo on Houzz

Respect common spaces and shared walls.

Keep shared hallways, entrances, and common rooms in your apartment or condo clear of personal belongings. Even though space may be tight inside your unit, it’s important to find another place for that stroller or bicycle — crowded common areas can become a fire hazard, or at least a tripping hazard.

If you share walls (or a floor or ceiling) with neighbors, try to keep noise down to a reasonable level all the time, not just late in the evening. If you live upstairs, consider using area rugs over hard flooring to muffle the noise of footsteps — a common complaint among downstairs neighbors.

Outdoor spaces in apartment buildings and condos are often quite close together, so be aware of your drifting barbecue smoke — gas grills may be best in tight quarters. If you smoke, be respectful by not smoking where others may get secondhand smoke.

best neighbor

Westover Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz

There is no need to get into a competition with neighbors over who has the greenest lawn, but keeping up a basic level of tidiness will be appreciated by all. Put your garbage and recycling cans back promptly after they have been collected, keep grass mowed and weeds pulled, and try to avoid storing too many belongings on your porch or in the driveway.

Follow parking etiquette.

Always try to park in front of your own house if possible, and never block neighbors’ driveways. In some neighborhoods with narrow streets, it is the custom for everyone to park on only one side — even if it’s not an official rule, it is best to follow suit.

Build community.

Building good relationships with neighbors often comes down to the little things. If your garden produces a bumper crop of tomatoes, bring a basket next door to share. Trade tools and skills. Be generous with smiles and be willing to lend a hand if it’s needed. And you don’t need to be part of a neighborhood watch to help keep your neighborhood feeling a bit safer — simply knowing your neighbors and occasionally chatting with them can go a long way. Let your immediate neighbors know if you will be out of town, and whether you will be having anyone stay at your home while you are gone.

If your neighborhood doesn’t already have any events, consider organizing one. Annual events like a block party, an open house or a neighborhood yard sale are a great way to build a sense of community and get to know your neighbors.

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6 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How To Be Good Neighbors

good neighbors

By Alison Hodgson, Houzz

The summer of 1968, my parents were in the market for their first home. In a neighborhood they liked, they found two houses, side by side, up for sale. After they toured both, they decided on the slightly smaller one on the corner, and moved in a few weeks before my older brother was born. Three more of us followed in steady succession.

The people who bought the house next door were an older couple. If you restrict the definition of “good neighbors” to how they keep their homes, then the Lincolns were the best. They kept their house and yards immaculate, but they were unfriendly. His constant expression was disapproval mixed with suspicion, and she always seemed to be discovering a bad smell.

My parents took care of our home and yards, but in the front our lawn met theirs, and the line of demarcation was as obvious as if there had been a fence. Second only to the care and keeping of his enormous Cadillac, lawn maintenance was Mr. Lincoln’s life’s work. When a ball fell across the property line, one of us would retrieve it, running as if the grass were lava.

 My siblings and I were taught to be respectful of all of our neighbors’ property and the neighbors themselves, but the Lincolns were such a couple of curmudgeons, our mere existence was an affront. This sort of disdain wears on even the strongest psyche. When we moved it was such a relief to have acres of woods and fields to roam through and to be free of constant suspicion and disapproval.

When I grew up and bought a home of my own, I discovered we had the kindest neighbors in the world, but even so I tried to make sure my children weren’t wearing out our neighbors’ warmest welcome.

Here are my recommendations for helping your children learn how to be good neighbors.

good neighbors

Heffernan Landscape Design, original photo on Houzz

  1. Establish boundaries and routines with your neighbors first. This sounds obvious, but in the busyness of life, simple things can be forgotten or taken for granted. Ask your neighbors what they would want your children to do if a ball goes into their yard. May your child walk into their yard and retrieve it, or would your neighbor prefer a knock on the door first? Are there any special considerations? Does your neighbor work at night, and would he appreciate quiet right outside his bedroom window during the day? Asking simple questions like these will show you care about and respect your neighbor’s wishes and needs.
  2. Teach your children literal boundaries.When they are quite young, explain where your property ends and where your neighbors properties’ begin. Explain to your kids what you and the neighbors discussed for ball retrieval or anything else. This is especially important if your neighbors have animals.
  3. Explain figurative boundaries. Your child may be entirely on your own property but yelling his or her sweet head off. Although you may be able to tune this out entirely, your neighbor cannot. Kids shouldn’t need to skulk around whispering, but a basic understanding of other people’s needs will serve your child forever.
  4. good neighbors

    Keith Willig Landscape Services Inc, original photo on Houzz

    Don’t cover it up. Accidents will happen. Teach your child what to do when things go wrong. Talk through different scenarios: kids are playing ball and accidentally break a neighbor’s window. The instinct is to run, but that’s no solution. Help children decide how to find and ask for help when they’re scared and most tempted to make a bad situation worse.

  5. Teach your children to look for opportunities to help and serve. Is a neighbor struggling to carry in a carload of groceries? A simple, “May I give you a hand?” could make a neighbor’s day and give your child the opportunity to experience the great feeling that comes from helping others.
  6. Ask for feedback. Keep an open conversation with your neighbors. Most people won’t rat out your kid for being a pest, but if you check in and ask how things are going, your neighbor may feel freer to express an annoyance that’s easily corrected.

Learning to be a good neighbor while still young will help your child find his or her place in the world.

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8 Hidden Costs When Buying a Home

by Rebecca Bradshaw

You’ve saved for a down payment and calculated how much mortgage you can afford, but are you prepared for hidden costs that can occur when buying a home?

  1. To determine the property’s true worth, you will be expected to pay for a home appraisal. The appraisal not only assures that you aren’t overpaying, but can also be used as a negotiating tool when making an offer to the seller. An appraisal can cost as much as $500.
  2. A home inspection will determine if there are any problems with your new house. Professional inspectors will look for flaws in the home’s foundation and roof, as well as check for potential costly issues in its electrical, heating, and water systems. An inspection can range from $200 to $500, but is well worth the expense.
  3. You may need to pay for additional inspections, such as a land survey to determine property lines, or for termite, sewer, chimney, or other ancillary inspections. While not overly expensive on their own (a few hundred dollars each), they can be costly when combined.
  4. If an inspection turns up issues that the seller won’t cover, or if you purchase a house that isn’t in perfect condition, you may find yourself spending money on repairs and cosmetic changes before you move in. Figure in the cost of painting, upgrades to appliances, and other expenses when planning your budget.
  5. Purchasing a home warranty is optional, but is an out of pocket expense you might want to undertake right away. Running as high as $500, a good home warranty can offset the cost of pricy repairs, ultimately saving you thousands of dollars. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to pay for the warranty at closing.
  6. Closing costs generally run between 2% – 5% of the total purchase price, and although the seller may pay for all or part of them, you may still be responsible for a portion. Be prepared to pay private mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20%, as well as for property taxes, and fees for title searches and other filing costs.
  7. Don’t forget moving costs. Professional movers can be expensive, depending on the time and distance of the move. Consider, too, if you’ll need to purchase new furniture or appliances, or, if you’re downsizing, whether you’ll need to rent a storage unit.
  8. You may find that you are required to have additional insurance, or that the water heater that passed the home inspection stops working right after you move in. Unexpected expenses can occur when buying a home, so plan to put aside an emergency fund.


Sources: US News/Money, Life Hacker, Real Estate Solutions, Campbell & Keller Team       


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