10 reasons to be a good neighbor

Seaside garden

I certainly have a mixed-bag relationship with my neighbors. This article made me think about that relationship.  Several of my neighbors are very pleasant people. Some are worthless – and I mean that in the nicest possible way. The trick, when living in a townhouse community like I do, is to coexist with a minimum of headaches. Here are ten reasons I struggle to coexist with my neighbors:

1. Da kids. My son has a lot of good friends his age around our neighborhood. In the normal course of events, I might not have crossed paths with his friends’ parents, but for his sake I hang around with them – and eventually it has paid off as I got to know them.

2. Zen housing. It’s just easier to live your life if you don’t give your neighbors a hard time – primarily because they won’t give YOU a hard time.

3. Speak no evil. If you do something, well, semi-illegal like having a bar-b-q in an area where technically bar-b-q’s are, well, semi-illegal, it’s nice to be on good enough terms with the neighbors not to worry about tattle tales.

4. Lookouts. If you go on vacation, you’re going to want someone to watch your place. I’m wouldn’t expect anyone to be a hero, but just stopping someone from backing up a truck by calling 9-1-1 would be nice.

5.  Saving money. You can save money borrowing a rake if you’re on good terms with your neighbor.

6.  Being able to pick on the little things. If you’re on good terms with your neighbors, it’s a lot easier to ask them not to shovel snow in your driveway than if you’re barely on speaking terms.

7.  Built in socializing. If you work at a job with late hours or long commutes (or both) it’s nice to have someone 100 feet away who you can socialize with, rather than needing to hop in the car and drive halfway across town with kids in tow to meet someone for dinner.

8.  Networking. Oddly enough, since I live in a neighborhood full of people who commute to lower Manhattan I’ve discovered that I have a lot of networking possibilities from people who I know due to the accident of living in the same neighborhood.

9.  Advice. If your neighbor’s been in the area longer, you’re going to appreciate getting to know them all the better when they can recommend the best neighborhood plumber or dentist.

10.  Longer life. Most studies of happiness show that most people’s happiness relies on a few basic factors.  A healthy relationship with your community increases your happiness, decreases your stress and thereby lengthens your life.

Everyone realizes that life is easier if you have a good relationship – or at least a neutral one – with your neighbors. The problem is that unless you have kids (or dogs, I guess) who sortof force you into socializing situations you’re often going to have a tough time forming a connection unless you’re the naturally gregarious type.  The benefits are there, though, so just remember that the next time you see the neighbor you don’t know so well out on the street – say hi and walk a while together.

photo credit: *Susie*

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And just in passing, I was saddened to see that David Foster Wallace (apparently) committed suicide.  I was not a huge fan, but having read a few of his books and nonfiction works I was struck by how terrible it is to see another talented artist giving in to his demons.  His writing was amazing.  A shame, a shame, a shame.

9 comments

  • great points here, steve. we moved into a transitional neighborhood 2 years ago and while it has its quirks and the neighbors aren't all fabulous, we all get along. it is nice to have someone across the street walk and feed our dogs when we're away. and just a couple nights ago another neighbor came to the rescue when we were digging up a dead tree. you've made me think about all the good stuff instead of my usual rolling my eyes at some of the not so good stuff.

    and i could stare at that pretty pretty photo in this post all day. i have fence and garden envy enough that i am even going to click and see who calls that yard home.

  • We met and keep up with most of our neighbours through my husband's evening cigarettes (and my keeping him company with a cuppa tea) on the porch. For some reason we're on the last street in north america where everyone still smokes and whatever about anything else it's a good social habit. Neighbours were the last thing on our mind when we bought our current place (coming off years of apartment living in NYC, where you barely recognize the people on the same floor as you) but we really lucked out in moving onto a street full of great people. Our neighbours are a mixed bag to put it mildly in terms of age, income and family structure which is nice. My husband the IT guy fixes their computers, and the plumber and labourer nearby help us with construction. Different neighbours take in our mail when we're away, have us over for barbecues, lend us their lawnmower/snowblower and are generally good friends to us in many ways. We don't live in the most desirable part of TO but I'd be reluctant to leave even if a perfect house in a better street opened up to us. It's great.

  • It's always beneficial to be on good terms with the neighbors, so many pros to the list. Another one you could add is to split internet. I live in an apt and split the internet with our new neighbors we recently met. Saves a little on the bill and if nothing else, gives a reason to get to know each other a little bit better.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

  • When we moved to NYC (and to the States) for the first time, my sister rented a one-bedroom apartment for 5 people. As soon as we brought our bags in, the next-door neighbor came rushing in to introduce herself and brought a kettle to make tea. We were very grateful to meet our first neighbor, even though she did it not because she was genuinely friendly, but because she HAD to know everything and everybody. Who cares?! It's good to have “good” neighbors even if they are nosy.

  • We are lucky. We have truly great neighbours. We have not really listed the advantages, but they make for so much less stress.

    Thank you for making me realise this!

    Cheers

  • Good top 10 list, thanks for putting that together. We're having a national night out event for crime awareness soon here in Texas and I used some of your reasons for an article. Here's to good neighbors!

  • Good top 10 list, thanks for putting that together. We're having a national night out event for crime awareness soon here in Texas and I used some of your reasons for an article. Here's to good neighbors!

  • We are lucky. We have truly great neighbours. We have not really listed the advantages, but they make for so much less stress.

    Thank you for making me realise this!

    Cheers

  • Good top 10 list, thanks for putting that together. We're having a national night out event for crime awareness soon here in Texas and I used some of your reasons for an article. Here's to good neighbors!