7 things you can do to be a better neighbour

Modern life is a lot less conducive to neighbourliness than it used to be. We don't usually realize how much we depend on good neighbours until we lose them. Here's how to nurture your relationships with your neighbours.

7 things you can do to be a better neighbour

1. Strike up a conversation over the fence or in the street.

  • It's okay to be the one to break the ice, even if you've lived next door for years.
  • Most neighbours enjoy making small talk with other people. So as you see them in the backyard, smile and say hello.
  • Ask how their children are or whether they could use some extra carrots from your garden.

2. Introduce yourself to the new family down the road

  • Your new neighbours may be feeling lonely and unsure, especially if they're far from home, and might appreciate a friendly face bearing a homemade cake or a plant.
  • If they have children, tell them where the other local children live. Give advice on the best places to eat and shop.

3. Be considerate, especially of elderly people.

  • Return anything that you borrow from a neighbour, such as tools, in good repair as soon as you're finished with them.
  • Replace anything that belongs to your neighbour that you, your children or your pets break or soil.
  • If your neighbour hasn't brought in his or her recycling bin yet, do it as a favour.
  • Random acts of consideration will get your neighbours talking — and the talk will be good.

4. Invite your neighbours to your next bash—or throw one in their honour.

  • What better way to meet your neighbours than to invite them to an informal barbecue or party?
  • If you deliver the invitations in person, you'll get a chance to have a chat before moving on to the next house.

5. Be house-proud.

  • Part of what makes a "good neighbourhood" is that the people have a common interest — and a personal and financial investment — in keeping their neighbourhood looking neat and clean.
  • So do your part to maintain your lawn and the outside of your home.
  • Or hire someone to do it. Ask a neighbour for a recommendation for painting or landscaping.

6. Don't park in your neighbour's parking space.

On-street parking can be a sensitive issue for neighbours who don't have a garage, so don't thoughtlessly take "their" space. And don't let any visiting friends do it.

7. Understand that not all your neighbours love children or animals.

  • Don't assume it's acceptable for your children to run wild with their skateboards, or allow your dog to roam free.
  • Teach your children the neighbourhood boundaries they must live by, be it noise, geography or time of day.
  • Likewise, promptly clean up any mess your pet makes, either on your property, theirs or on the sidewalk.
  • Talk to your neighbours occasionally to make sure your family isn't infringing on them.
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