The past six months have made it more difficult to be a good neighbor than ever before. Social distancing, quarantines, and a healthy dose of panic have most people hibernating and concentrating on as little social interaction as possible. But the day will come when you can be a good neighbor again, so be prepared to put your best handshake forward and reestablish those important and satisfying bonds.
Above all else, good neighbors all do these nine things:
Good Neighbors Keep It Clean
Coming home to a well-kept place adds a lot to your day. If you have any outdoor areas that your neighbor can see from their home, you should do your best to maintain them for everyone’s sake. If your deck is damaged or needs a paint job, for example, kindly ask management to repair it. Even easier, you can make a cluttered deck look nice just by removing the beach towels and other items you drape over it to dry. Discard unsightly dead plants and old plant pots. If you have a yard or garden, keep it watered and green, mowed and free of rambling weeds, toys, and trash. Remove outdoor holiday décor no more than a week after the holiday passes, including Christmas lights. If you really want to extend the celebration, just limit the decorations to the inside of your home.
Good Neighbors Take Charge of Their Pets
Fluffy and Fido may be the loves of your life, but don’t forget that not everyone you meet is going to be a fan of house pets. After all, barking dogs and howling cats violate noise ordinances and tenants’ rights to a quiet and peaceful environment. Don’t expect others to adapt to your pets, as they’re your responsibility. Either get new pets or move to a remote location where no one can hear them. Even some service animals are susceptible to rental laws put in place to guarantee that no tenant has to live with noise pollution.
Good Neighbors Follow Rules
When you sign a lease or rental agreement to live in community housing, that signature also binds you to abide by the rules, regardless if you actually agree with all of them. For instance, you probably shouldn’t park in unauthorized or assigned spots. If the building has a pool, do your best to keep glass containers away and don’t swim outside of the posted hours. You should also use earbuds when you’re poolside, too, as not everyone shares your taste in music. Don’t paint the interior of your apartments or alter it in any way without the written permission of management. Similarly, you should also check with management before installing satellite TV dishes on the building’s exterior.
Good Neighbors are Cordial
A friendly hello in the hallway or parking lot can make someone’s day, or a least elicit a smile. Similarly, you’ll probably score brownie points with your neighbors if you offer them a little help every now and then. When you see them struggling with bags of groceries, offer to carry a couple for them. If someone’s having car problems, offer a jump (or to call someone who can). See a neighbor trying to make a simple repair? Take over some tools that will make the job easier. Remember, everyone gets along better with a little help from a friend.
Good Neighbors are Charitable
Choose a cause as local and non-controversial as possible. The goal is to raise funds or inspire people to volunteer their time for the betterment of their community. If you’re really passionate about the movement, ask the manager if you can post notices for a casual gathering in a common room or outdoor venue. If that’s not an option, use your apartment for a brief informational meeting. Helping out others typically helps people bond and brings out the best in them.
Good Neighbors Avoid Gossip
The old adage of, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all,” has held up for centuries. In fact, you should avoid discussing neighbors’ business at all. If others try to engage you in gossip, just smile, say “that’s really not my business,” and walk away. When neighbors reveal too many details about their lives, respond as vaguely as possible, such as, “oh, I hope that works out for you,” and change the subject. Gossiping never results in anything positive.
Good Neighbors Party Responsibly
Most people like to blow off steam every once in awhile, because quite frankly, it’s good for the heart and soul. That doesn’t mean you can play loud music or stomp around like an unruly toddler into the wee hours of the morning, of course. Whether you’re 21 or 71, always do your best to keep gatherings civilized and respect your neighbors’ rights to a peaceful home environment. Of course, inviting them to the party is a killer first move, and you might even get a better friendship out of it than you ever imagined!
Good Neighbors Take Out Their Trash
Take your garbage out on the assigned day, not when it’s convenient for you, and put the containers back in their designated area as soon as possible. Secure all the lids so raccoons and other pests can’t start digging through it. Similarly, you should avoid packing rubbish of any kind in flimsy bags that can be easily torn open by pets and wildlife. And obviously, never, never toss garbage or trash off your balcony or into your backyard.
Good Neighbors Teach Respect
Set an example for your kids by showing them the right way to treat one’s neighbors. Don’t bad-mouth anyone in their presence (especially young children who love to repeat things, totally unaware of the hurt they may cause). Teach your kids about personal space, too, and that you don’t just run into people’s homes or yards without a proper invitation. Make sure they call people Mr., Ms., or Mrs. until instructed otherwise. Remind them to speak at a low volume when they can, and that jumping around is also prohibited — especially if your living space is on an upper floor.