Before a move, a person has typically seen their new home (sight unseen does happen – I’ve done it – I don’t recommend it). They’ve most likely explored their new neighborhood, the schools and even the grocery stores. But how many people meet their neighbors before deciding on a new home?
In these days when we call the hundreds if not thousands of Facebook acquaintances we’ve never met “friends,” how do you define the people with whom you might share a mail carrier or a coffee shop? In a time when your average American spends more waking time at work than they do at home, how do you get to know your neighbors?
1. Smile – That might sound like advice you’d give to your third grader before sending her off to a new school, but as elementary as it sounds, a smile is the best thing you should show to your new neighbor. It’s non-commital. If you live next door to someone who seems a little off, a smile sends them the message that you’re non-threatening. It’s not needy. If you get a good vibe from them, wave. At that point, let them come to you. Remember, you are the newby.
2. After you’ve settled in, invite the nicer neighbors over – Even if you like to keep to yourself, it’s good to establish some friendships in the neighborhood. They can be great helps if your dog escapes the yard or if someone suspicious is lurking around your house.
3. Attend neighborhood functions – Block parties often sound more like a chore than a party, but they are a great way to get to know all of your neighbors. Ask if there’s a community garden. Even if you have room at home, a community garden is a good way to spread the zucchini.
4. Exchange phone numbers – Ensure that your neighbors have a way to get ahold of you if they suspect a problem around your home.
5. If your neighbors are noisy – Talk to them. There’s no reason you should have to suffer through their barking dog or their teenagers’ loud music. Be nice, but be direct. Hopefully, you’ve already established a rapport with them. Be sure that your noise level is down, especially after 10:00 PM.
6. If your neighbors aren’t so nice – Unfortunately, this happens quite often. The best advice is to be as friendly as possible and try to recruit some other friends in the neighborhood. You might find that your unfriendly neighbors are simply insecure about new people moving in or you might find that the other neighbors have problems as well. If the problems get too extreme, call law enforcement.
7. To Facebook or not to Facebook – That depends entirely on your social networking style. If you are the type who tends to share every detail of your life, it’s probably not a good idea to let your neighbor know about your latest fight with your spouse or the issues you are having with your children. Some people use Facebook as an outlet. Complaining about a neighbor who happens to be a Facebook friend is at best, passive-aggressive. At worst, it’s downright hostile. If you share a lot of political content, you probably don’t want to friend your neighbors unless you are absolutely sure they sit on the same side of that fence. Politics (or religion) can cause some tension. Of course, if you put signs on your lawn during election season, share away.
If your Facebook posts are generally upbeat and not too personal, go ahead. It’s a great way to establish an even better relationship.
8 Most importantly, the best way to make good neighbors is to be a good neighbor – Give cards or cookies during the holidays. Keep your yard groomed. Make sure your pets don’t make too much noise. If you live in an apartment, keep offensive cooking smells and cigarette smoke to a minimum. Offer your help, even if it’s just helping to unload the groceries.