36 Simple Ways You Can Be a Better Neighbor

published Apr 28, 2018
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Feeling nostalgic for those Wonder Years neighborhood vibes, or the cozy camaraderie of Friends-esque living situations? Or maybe you just don’t know what to do about all those other people who also happen to live on your street.

Whether you’re looking to create a local utopia, trying to up your good neighbor game, or simply hoping to defrost your neighborhood’s atmosphere a bit, here are 36 ways to be a better neighbor – and maybe even help create a more engaged community in the process.

Common Courtesies

  • Actually introduce yourself, especially if you’re new to the neighborhood or building.
  • Go one step beyond an introduction – give your neighbor your phone number. And, because we’re not all geniuses at remembering names, write your name down alongside it.
  • Make an effort to remember names yourself. Add them to your contacts list, write them down and stick them on your refrigerator, whatever it takes.
  • Get to know the neighborhood (or at least your floor in the apartment complex) by actively engaging with people as you see them out and about.
  • Go out of your way to be friendly, even if you aren’t really friends. And remember you don’t have to be close to your neighbors to be warm or sociable.
  • Stop to say “hello” when you cross paths.
  • Keep tabs on your house sounds, like running kids or impromptu dance parties, especially if you live in a shared space or close proximity to neighbors.
  • Give your neighbors a heads up about special events, like potentially loud parties.
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Check Yourself

  • Be proactive about your pets – including their late-night barking tendencies, or their preference for marking the neighbor’s rose bushes.
  • Don’t hide out. It’s tempting, especially with a fence or door to protect you, but time spent in a slightly more common (or at least visible) area will help you break down those boundaries.
  • Set your expectations appropriately. Your neighbors may not be as neighborly as you are, and that’s okay!
  • Have realistic expectations for the noise levels of those living immediately around you. And take note of your frustrations – so you can make sure you aren’t unintentionally creating the same frustrations in anyone who may live above, below, or beside you.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. Put neighborhood-wide events on your calendar, and then participate! Whether it’s a cleanup project or HOA event, make an effort to make an appearance.
  • Get organized, especially if you’re offering to help coordinate a neighborhood or apartment project or event.
  • Keep things casual. If you do reach out, or host a neighborhood gathering, keep the options low-key, especially if you don’t know each other well!
  • Practice common-sense sound control when it comes to music and instruments.

Do Unto Others

  • Have empathy for their stage of life and the schedule that goes with it! Think things like newborn naps and night shift work hours.
  • Offer to babysit, pet-sit, or even just keep an eye on their home if they’re headed out for a date night or have clued you into their vacation plans.
  • Share your handyman skills, if you have them!
  • Be direct about questions, concerns, or any neighborly problems that pop up. Passive aggressive neighbors do no one any good.
  • To take conflict resolution one step further, address any disputes in person – and never on social networking sites like Nextdoor.
  • Looking for an ice-breaker? Make your front yard or entryway as inviting as possible. Maybe turn on the lights at night, or even go so far as setting up a neighborhood lending library.
  • Aim for small offerings: Hauling a neighbor’s trash can to the curb, or dropping their newspaper on the front step.
(Image credit: Diana Liang)

Reach Out

  • Welcome new neighbors to the neighborhood by ringing the doorbell, introducing yourself, and even offering to help with the move-in if you’re so disposed.
  • Take over treats, for any reason (or no reason at all). Everyone loves treats.
  • Stay on top of thank you’s, if a neighbor brings you treats or does a favor for you.
  • Share holiday cards. They’re a great way to reach out, let your neighbors know you’re thinking of them, and put out one more reminder of everyone’s names.
  • Looking for a nontraditional group ideas? Split a CSA, especially if you know you won’t make it through all the produce on your own.
  • Share your expertise. Know all the best restaurants in a five-mile radius? Give the gift of that knowledge to your neighbors.
  • Organize an annual, or bi-annual block party and make sure your neighbors all have the time and date right.
  • Set up a neighborhood movie night, complete with a projector, a white sheet, and your garage door or the blank wall of a common space.
  • Create a community space. Maybe it’s a tiny garden in the front yard, or a stack of board games if your apartment complex has a lounge area or rec room.
  • Try something offbeat: A croquet tournament, or a neighborhood-wide mini-golf game.
  • Embrace the holidays. Set up an Easter egg hunt extravaganza, or a come-one-come-all s’more roasting station on Halloween.
  • Create clear, predictable habits, like walking the dog every evening, and be prepared to pause for conversation with neighbors you see along the way.
  • Make a neighborhood email list to loop neighbors into upcoming events, or coordinate a get-together.