How to Be a Good Neighbor

By Marc Acton on May 19, 2014 at 6:00 am EST
Just by following a few easy tips, you can develop better relationships with your neighbors.

On May 9th, the summer blockbuster season kicks into gear with Neighbors, the latest film from the team that gave us the darkly humorous film This Is the End. Neighbors is the story of a suburbanite couple (played by Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne) whose quiet ‘burb life is rocked when a fraternity moves in next door. Chaos ensues, with Rogen’s good-guy dad pitted against Efron’s beer-chugging frat guy. Unfortunately, the concept of the terrible neighbor is not far from the truth for some. Here are a few ways you can make sure you and your neighbor avoid all-out war:

Exchange Contact Info

The simplest step towards a good relationship with your neighbor is also the first one. About once a year, my neighbor calls to check on me – the last time, I’d left my garage door open when I left on vacation. The simple step of exchanging contact info saved me days of potential garage thievery.

Be Facebook Friends

The face-value, let’s-not-get-too-serious social media relationship is perfect for neighborly check-ins. You can get regular reminders of how many kids that young couple has now (they do seem to just keep popping them out), and the young couple can know how important your dog (the one that keeps straying into their yard) is to you.

Have an Annual Face-to-Face

You probably don’t have the time or energy to be best friends with all of your neighbors, but pick your one or two favorites and make sure you have a face-to-face meeting (over some hot coals or cold beverages) at least once a year. This level of intimacy makes it more reasonable to ask for the occasional favor.

Ask Questions

Just like any relationship, asking questions will tell your neighbor that you value them, and people in general love talking about themselves. The tricky thing is to remember the answers. If you can reference your neighbor’s Aunt Suzie’s health problems the next time you see them, they’ll appreciate the effort you put into remembering.

RAK Them

Random Acts of Kindness are great any time, but if you need an excuse, bake some Christmas treats or special Fourth of July brownies. It’ll give you an excuse to small talk for a few minutes while you drop them off.

Observe Quiet Hours

For apartment dwellers especially, you can get away with putting that surround sound system through its paces during the afternoon. Just don’t be like my previous apartment neighbors whose music I could easily sing along to at all hours of the night. Or if you do, at least have good taste in music.

Do Unto Others

Whether it’s turning on a vacationing neighbor’s outside faucet before a cold snap to keep their pipes from freezing or using up the rest of your weed killer on their side of the fence, you can sum up how to be a good neighbor by using the oldest (and gold-est) of relationship rules: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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