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How To Be A Great Neighbor

Updated on September 29, 2011

Being a neighbor is a hybrid type of relationship - not family, friends or coworkers, it has some elements of all three. You live close enough to have common interests, but you may end up feeling you have little in common. Everyone wants to be on good terms with the people who live around them, and for this you need to put some effort into being a good neighbor.

Basic Good Neighborliness

  1. Friendliness This one will get you far, costs nothing, and is fairly easy to implement. For introverts like myself, making a point to smile, say hello, nod or otherwise regularly aknowledge neighbors can take some effort, but if you don't do any of these things you will come across as aloof or even superior. If you run into a neighbor someplace like the mall, eye contact and a smile are enough - but without them you may be perceived as rude. One set of neighbors is a great example. They don't speak English (my family's only language unfortunately), but whenever they see us, they smile and raise a hand in greeting. When we moved into the neighborhood seven years ago, the two ladies of the house invited my husband in, served him tea, and carried on a simple conversation with the 20 or so words of English they do know. You can't help but like people like this.
  2. Respect For Privacy This one is easy for an introvert, maybe harder for the more gregarious. While people are social and crave human contact, protecting their private business is equally important to everyone. Whether you walked by and caught them yelling at the kids, or wonder if Dad's recent presense around the house means he's been laid off, politely acting as if you haven't noticed a thing lets your neighbors save face.
  3. Take Care Of Your Property In all the neighborhoods I've lived in, East Coast, West Coast and Midwest, this is the one I've seen generate the most bad feeling between neighbors. People who don't get on can avoid one another, but an overgrown lawn is always there staring you in the face.Some people are really into the appearance of their house or condo, and others could care less, but for the sake of goodwill you should put in the effort for basic maintenance. Mow, trim, sweep, or hire a service to do it for you. If it's really something you don't want to invest energy in, a rock garden is always an alternative. My neighborhood has some great ones.

My Kids On Our Front Porch

Beyond the Basics: Neighbors & Life

Invite your neighbors to at least some of your social events Years ago I lived behind a family that every Friday night had a big gathering with a dozen kids running around the yard, a porch packed with adults enjoying a few beers while the BBQ slowly bronzed dinner, and music blasting. One particularly lonely Friday when my husband was away on business and my toddler was asleep in his crib, I looked out my back window to the usual happy chaos, and saw, on top of everything else, a couple making out in the downstairs bathroom. That's when I thought, Why don't they ever invite me to their parties? They didn't know me, so of course there is no real reason they would invite me, but I am only human, and from then on I began to resent the expected Friday night noise.

If you are having a party, especially one that will make noise, telling your neighbors about it and inviting them will hopefully make them more tolerant. My kids are now at the age where their parties include pop music in the back yard, and I feel better knowing that I told neighbors the expected hours of the party, and said I would be having wine and cheese in the front room for adults while the teens & tweens enjoy Lady Gaga & the trampline in the backyard. Only a few have taken me up on it, but I've always enjoyed their company.

Miss Manners, the guru of correct behavior, is great fun to read. She is always polite, somehow manages to be traditional yet completely with the times, and has a solution to every difficulty.

Your neighbors can help you out in times of trouble The unexpected happens, and in a crunch your neighbor is often more likely to help you than your best friend or even your family. A few years ago the woman directly across the street from me was my carpool partner. One morning she didn't look herself, and after I dropped all the kids at school I went back to her door. She didn't answer, but I just had a bad feeling, and went into her house anyway. She was having a seizure. Because she was on anti-seizure medication the symptoms were masked, but she seemed too withdrawn and confused, and I found her husband's work number on the refrigerator and called him. He was home quickly, and took her to the hospital. This is an extreme example, but things like this do happen.

I had back surgery a few years ago, and couldn't drive for a few months. There are no school buses where I live, but a neighbor from down the street ferried my kids to school for the rest of the year. She always said it was not a big thing, but to me it was, and took a big concern off my mind.

Quick poll:

Which type of neighbor are you?

See results

Neighbor No-Nos

You wouldn't do any of these things anyway, but just a reminder.

Lock up guns, even BB or AirSoft I live in what I think of as a nice family neighborhood, but one day my windshield was splintered into fragments by a BB gun, unfortunately owned by a neighborhood elementary school student. His mom was sure he knew better, and so the gun was not locked in a cabinet. Needless to say, it caused some embarrassment.

Don't gossip If you gossip about neighbor X, neighbor Y will probably think you are gossiping about them too. Soon no one will tell you anything, and you won't find out about the block party until you see people setting up.

Don't ask overly personal questions They might just tell you the answer. And after all, we all have to live with one another.

One Great Way to Build Good Neighborhood Feeling

In closing, one of the best tools for building community spirit is a neighborhood garage sale. To set one up, just pick a date, distribute flyers inviting your neighbors to join in, and put a few ads in local papers. Strolling around and chatting over everyone's outgrown toys, seldom used china and giant gum dispensers, you have a rare opportunity to bond.

For many of us, family lives far away. If we want community where we live, we will have to build it.


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    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      I have to commend you for smiling and waving for a couple of years before getting feedback. If only more people had your fortitude in the face of indifference!

    • MisaLeonessa profile image


      7 years ago

      I didn't really think about it before, but it's true that when my neighbors don't at least smile and wave I feel invisible. I started a "campaign" to smile and wave at every neighbor driving or walking by a couple of years ago and they are finally starting to wave back!

    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      rorshak - I think you are right that neighbors really appreciate when you take care of your lawn. After all, it effects the overall feel of the neighborhood, but no one can make anyone do it. Cooking for neighbors is really going above and beyond - they must really like you for it!

    • profile image

      rorshak sobchak 

      7 years ago

      Being friendly does seem important in building relationships especially with neighbors. I enjoy bringing my neighbors food that I have cooked every once in awhile. Also one thing I noticed is the neighbors really enjoy when you keep up with mowing grass with them. They really dislike when it gets long. I always give my neighbors a friendly smile and wave.

    • cheapsk8chick profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub! I live in a very friendly and helpful neighborhood (fortunately), but these tips are a good reminder of things I can brush up on. I especially like the tip about parties.

    • profile image

      Francis Nmeribe 

      7 years ago

      Living in today's world where people are more connected online than offline, this great piece comes in handy. I have enjoyed and intends to forward it to friends and neighbors.

      Thank you for posting it.

    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      dbworx: What a bummer! Neighborhoods get a vibe, and when it's negative, it's tough. Can be like swimming against the undertow.

      A friend told me a great story once: coming out of her development she drives by a house where an elderly man is on the porch in his wheelcar most of the daylight hours. He appears to be paralysed from the neck down. She started to give him a quick wave each time she went by. She didn't expect anything in response, but then he started to open his jaw wide, just once, each time her car went by. She suspects it is the only part of his body he can move, but there he is, forming a social connection with what he has. The world can use more neighbors like that.

    • dbworx profile image


      7 years ago from So. California

      I agree with all that was said. But what do ya do when all the introductions are made, friendly hi's and waving came into affect and all of a sudden some neighbors become pushy and rude about my kept up yard...and for no reason just turned into a**holes. Late night (real late)noise & parties, illegal activities, etc. We have just turned a blind eye. Too bad...I strongly believe in the hood. At one time we knew everyone for blocks but, now we just wave to all most anyone with no return...go figure. Times have changed!

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 

      7 years ago from > California

      Great hub with some excellent advice.

      Congrats on your high percentage vote total. If we all used just a little more common sense I think every neighborhood in the world would be that much more livable.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      Very well said...lots of good informative information. We've all had our share of experiences...Welcome to the HUb Neighborhood and Congratulations on this winning Hub. I look forward to following you, and hope you will drop by as well, neighbor!

    • profile image

      Rou Dewaal 

      7 years ago

      Loved it, thanks!!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Great Hub. We moved into the best neighborhood we have ever lived in two years ago; The main reason it is so great is the people. Having and being a good neighborhood can be so valuable. Thanks for the info!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. Being a good neighbor takes some effort, and you definitely have to overlook small slights. Thanks for writing.


    • graceomalley profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the encouragement everyone!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you Pat! Nice to run into you unexpectedly!

    • profile image

      Pat Picariello 

      7 years ago

      Hey there,

      Having recently moved to a new town (last September) for the 1st time in my adult life, your perspective was greatly appreciated. You write very well; Mr. Burns would be proud.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 

      7 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      You definetly seem to live in a friendly neighbourhood.

      I,m pleased for you. It looks like you made the effort.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Cool hub. What a great topic. Welcome to hubpages. Good luck to you.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Excellent suggestions for being a good neighbor. Congrats on your nomination.

    • fetty profile image


      7 years ago from South Jersey

      Well written, very well thought out. There is advice here for everyone. Congrats. on you hubnuggets nomination, too!

    • elayne001 profile image


      7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Such needed advice. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the nomination.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Gossiping is what I hate most. I may say, I share sentiments about what is happening in the neighborhood. Great hub, Ms. Grace! Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination. :D

    • kephrira profile image


      7 years ago from Birmingham

      This is a great guide. More neighbourliness and community spirit would make the world a better place. Or at least the neghbourhood anyway!


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