Mr. Rogers was on to something when he sang “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?”
Do you know your neighbors? Do they know you?
The Pew Research Center reported in 2018 that four-in-ten rural residents say they know all or most of their neighbors; the shares are smaller among those living in urban (24%) and suburban (28%) areas.
Getting to know your neighbors is the first step to becoming a good neighbor. If you are new to your neighborhood, don’t wait for the proverbial welcome wagon to come calling. Be proactive, get out of your comfort zone and meet them. While you are at it, bring them a Rosie calendar. Whether you are the newbie in the neighborhood or an established neighbor, share resources they may find helpful.
Earn extra points and bring this fresh strawberry pie as a neighborly offering.
If in-person contact is not your thing, especially during the era of “social distancing,” there are ways to connect virtually. Apps like Ring, Nextdoor, Citizen and groups on Facebook allow you to see who lives in your neighborhood (if they signed up for the app) and what is going on in your area. Find information about lost pets, crime, yard sales, special events, and more.
Communication is Key
Speaking of key, is there a neighbor you know and trust to keep an extra key on hand in case you get locked out or can’t get home to let dog out?
Tip: If you have an alarm, create a separate code for them so you can track who has been in the house.
If you hide a key outside – hide it in a hard-to-find place in your neighbor’s yard and have the neighbor hide theirs in your yard.
Don’t assume anything about your neighbors. “Frank, knows it wakes me up when he lets his chihuahuas out at six on Saturday mornings.” Does he really know, or do you assume he knows and is doing it just to aggravate you? Talk to him and come up with a schedule that suits you, him, and the dogs.
Or . . . “Betty never acknowledges me when I yell ‘hello’ from across the street.” Is it possible Betty simply can’t hear you, and is not ignoring you?
Keep your neighbors informed if you are starting projects that could affect them. For example, if you are having your pool resurfaced, give the surrounding neighbors a heads-up so they are not jolted awake by surprise by jackhammers at five o’clock in the morning. If you are undertaking a large remodeling project, keep them up to date on the progress as it could affect them.
How about a large party with a DJ or live music? Be sure to check the noise ordinance for your area and end the loud festivities accordingly. Also, let your neighbors know there will be a lot of cars on the street and noise. Better yet, invite them to the party.
Keep it to Yourself, But Also Give It Back
“Did you know that Sally and Bruce on Magnolia Street are (fill in the blank)?”
Tune out and don’t repeat the latest neighborhood gossip. Unless you can verify its validity and no one is in danger, keep it to yourself. Gossip is a great way to make enemies out of neighbors.
Other things to keep to yourself . . . trash. Don’t let your messes overflow on to the neighbor’s property or public walkways. Be a courteous neighbor. Do not place trash and recycle bins on the sidewalk. People who use wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or have difficulty walking need the sidewalk to be clear of obstructions. Depending on the neighborhood the bins go on the street or on the house side of the sidewalk. Check with your HOA or municipality for proper placement. .
When borrowing tools, dishes, books, or anything else, return them right away. No need to re-live the Hatfields and McCoys over a weed whacker.
A Helping Hand
Notice that a neighbor’s yard is unusually overgrown? Maybe the resident is not well and cannot keep it up themselves and/or cannot hire someone to pull the weeds. With their permission, do some tidying up for them. Also, pull their bins in and out on trash day.
When you head out for vacation or will be away for any extended period, let your neighbors know so they can “mind the store.” Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on things while you are away. Make sure they know how to get ahold of you in case there is a problem, such as damage from a storm, a water leak, break-in, or anything else that will need tending right away. Be sure to reciprocate the favor when needed.
All Hands & Eyes on Deck
The more people who are in tune with what is happening in the neighborhood and who their neighbors are, the better off the neighborhood will be. Don’t you want to be humming this tune every time you head into your neighborhood?
“I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.”
Our blog features easy tips to become a good neighbor. Our special guest Dr. Dean of Grand Canyon University puts a twist on this topic by pointing out some of bad and good neighbors in Arizona history; from a bloody feud between two families that likely delayed statehood to good neighbors that created the GI Bill and innovative home construction in Arizona.
- Fred Rogers Productions