Neighbourly Etiquette

Is it a beautiful day in your neighbourhood or was Mr. Roger’s smoking something? I often hear of people talking about how amazing their neighbours are. Pathways are being built between the homes for easy access to and from, cutting the pins off a section of fencing so it can be easily removed, opening up the yard between the two houses for large group entertaining. Is this neighbourly relationship a mere “unicorn” or is it becoming the norm? How many people love their neighbours like this?

In the spirit of the FOR SALE sign on my neighbours’ lawn, I am currently in search of, if not a “unicorn” neighbour at least a “good” one!

Learning from my past experience, a good neighbour in my opinion is one that will:

  1. Wave, smile or feel free to say hello, simply to acknowledge me and not just nod their head with a sour expression on their faces.
  2. Communicate any concerns verbally prior to calling the town, I am pretty sure whatever you were upset about could easily be resolved.
  3. Open the door when I come over to warn you in advance that we are planning a large gathering and it may get a bit loud. Making me talk to you through the door will not get you an invitation!

Everyone is different and has different expectations when it comes to neighbours. Here are some general neighbourly manners to have which would over time get adjusted the better you get to know your neighbours and perhaps build “unicorn” relationships with them.

  • Greet neighbours whenever you see them. A smile, a wave, and a pleasant “hello” are probably the easiest way to show neighbours that they matter to you.
  • Have an occasional chat. There’s a lot you can learn through casual chit-chat (especially over a glass of wine).
  • Call ahead before visiting. Call and ask if it’s convenient for you to stop by; not all neighbours happily pop in and out of each other’s homes without warning. ( I love pop by’s – if you come around 5pm you are sure to get a seat at the dinner table.)
  • Limit visits to a reasonable amount of time. Be attuned to what your neighbours are doing, and leave at the first hint that they’re ready for the visit to end.
  • Be considerate of neighbours’ schedules. If you happen to run into each other, say “hello” and then call to make a date to get together.
  • Don’t take advantage of a neighbour’s expertise or talent. Living on the same street as a doctor, chef, mechanic, or anyone with special skills doesn’t entitle neighbours to ask for free consultations or services.
  • Say thanks for any favours. Make sure you always say “Thank you,” and be willing to return the favour…
  • Be respectful of privacy. It can take some effort not to eavesdrop when living in close quarters. Never repeat what you accidentally overhear. (Don’t judge me when you hear me yelling at the kids when the windows are open during summer months!)
  • Be respectful of property. Always ask for permission before entering anyone’s property.
  • Neat exterior: Standards and tastes in property care vary person to person, but so long as neighbours maintain their property, there’s no need to criticize their fondness for garden gnomes. As a good neighbour, it’s important to keep your property looking neat, and to follow any local ordinances regarding lawn care, trash disposal, parking, and yard sales.
  • Trash: Bag garbage and stash it in tightly lidded containers and secure recycling so it doesn’t scatter in the wind.
  • Lighting: When you install outdoor lighting, including holiday lights, make sure to consider your neighbour’s point of view.
  • Power tool noise: Limit the use of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, power tools, and the like to reasonable times or when permitted by town ordinances.
  • Fall leaves: Falling leaves respect no property lines, and the ones that fall in your yard, even from a neighbour’s tree, are all yours.

Just remember, when it comes to where you live, you help set the tone.

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