How to Be a Good Neighbour

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Have you ever heard that your coworkers affect your work more than your work itself? That colleagues can make or break any job?

The same can be said about your neighbours.

Growing up, I lived next to an extremely inconsiderate family. The father drove a junk removal truck and would park it in front of our house, leaving oil and gunk for us to clean up. The kids were a mess, throwing trash over the fence and being loud at all hours in the backyard and on the front porch.

It created a consistent unease, something my parents would complain about constantly. It affected the way we lived—if only in a minor sense—and we were thrilled when they moved away, after years of annoyance and noise.

Being a good neighbour is something you should take pride in. If those who live near you enjoy your company, or don’t even know you’re there, you’re doing a good job.

Here are a few things to do or keep in mind to be the best neighbour you can possibly be.

Introduce yourself

While it might be awkward, introducing yourself to your neighbours is a great first step. As long as they know your name, it’ll be easier to say hi and make light conversation later on. Just ask a few basics, give a few details, and leave it at that. Simple gifts like a potted plant also go over well, if you want to make a big impact.

Just don’t go overboard: no giant baskets, inviting yourself in, or invasive questions. You don’t want to be that neighbour.

Think like your neighbour

While you shouldn’t be directed by your neighbour’s schedule, it’s good to have a general idea of how and when they operate. If you know they work the night shift, maybe don’t have a loud party on a Wednesday afternoon. If they’re scared of dogs, don’t have your Great Dane off the leash around them. While, of course, you live your life separately from your neighbours, some consideration goes a long way.

Condos are close quarters

If you live in a townhouse, apartment, semi, or condo, you should act like there’s someone in the next room, not the next house over—at least in rooms that have a shared wall with your neighbour. Try to keep appliances off that wall, and don’t play loud music too late or too early in those rooms.

Also, if you live above someone, limit how often you walk around in heels; you’d be surprised how loud that click-clack can be.

Tell them about parties

Now, I’m not saying sit in the corner and be quiet 24/7. We all have social gatherings from time to time, so just let your neighbours know when to expect some music and visitors. If they’re not caught unaware to the noise, they won’t be as annoyed. And if you like your neighbours and want to invite them, that makes them even more accepting of some late-night bass.

Stay tidy and involved in the neighbourhood

Those around you will love you if your house looks great. (It helps make their looks great, too!) For example, keep your yard trim and well-kempt, and external repairs up-to-date. A collectively pulled-together neighbourhood makes everyone a little more satisfied with where they live and who they live near.

Keep your neighbours informed on community events, like garage sales. If they get involved, that’s just more traffic to your laneway!

Do nice things!

If you’re out shovelling or snowblowing, take the extra couple minutes and do their sidewalk as well. If you have an elderly neighbour, offer to clear their driveway. Being kind to your neighbours takes so little time but the reward of a friendly relationship is well worth it.

You want to blossom neighbourly relations; if there’s ever an emergency or something suspicious, you want a neighbour who has your best interest at heart.

Unsplash: Bernadette Gatsby

About Jam Michael McDonald

Jam is a content editor based in Toronto. He's been the editor of a community newspaper, a national magazine, and two startups. Although he lives in a tiny condo, he uses every corner, and is an avid cheerleader of the compact home movement. You can find him every day on Twitter @mcjamdonald.

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