How to Be A Great Neighbor #2

Being on bad terms with your neighbor can make your life frustrating, day after day. But taking the time to establish good terms with your neighbors has numerous benefits. The community will be friendlier, the neighborhood safer, and the area a nicer and more comfortable place to live.

Consider your neighbors’ lifestyle. Get to know your neighbors–what they do for a living, what their schedules might be like, and so on. Sometimes, you can remedy problems before they even start; for example, if they work nights, quiet mornings will be important for them. If they have young children, quiet evenings will be very important to them. Similarly, give them information that’ll help them be more considerate of your lifestyle. If you do a lot of yard work, or if your teenage son plays the drums, let them know in advance and mention that if it’s getting too loud, they shouldn’t hesitate to let you know. Alert your neighbor to parties. If you’re planning a party, be sure to give your neighbors plenty of warning, letting them know when it’s going to start and how long you expect it to go on. Leave them a telephone number to contact if they need to ask you to turn it down. If you get on well with your neighbors, why not invite them too? When it comes to the party itself, stick to your agreed arrangements and ask your guests to be considerate when leaving. Check out the list below for more ways to make your neighborhood a brighter place with these 12 tips for becoming a Super Neighbor.

Create a neighborhood referral guide
If you combine all of the collective talent and skills of your neighborhood, you can save each other time and money while bringing the neighborhood closer together. Build a directory that catalogues each neighbor’s professional and personal skill set. This could be anything from roofing repair to riding a unicycle. Then, organize a directory by name and also by expertise (so all babysitters, for instance, are in one section). Hand a copy out to each neighbor. To cut down on costs, you can publish the directory online instead. Just make sure you obtain permission from each neighbor before publishing their personal information.

Maintain distressed properties
In some communities, nearly 1 in 4 homes are owned by a bank. Unfortunately, banks make lousy homeowners. They often neglect to offer even the most basic maintenance, such as watering or mowing the lawn. Dead lawns and chipping paint depress home values throughout the neighborhood and reduce the aesthetic value of the whole community. Gather a few committed neighbors and offer some basic maintenance to these homes. Make
sure you acquire the bank’s approval to avoid being arrested for trespassing.

Set up a neighborhood Facebook page and email list
These days, people organize their social lives around their email inboxes and social networks. Make use of these technologies to connect your neighborhood. Assemble an email list of all of your neighbors and distribute it to everyone on the street. Then, create a Facebook Fan Page for your neighborhood and invite everyone on the email list. Use the email list for vital neighborhood updates, like invitations to block parties or new trash pick-up days. Use Facebook to post multimedia updates, such as photos and videos of block parties, and less important updates, like links to interesting articles about the community.

Throw a party
Block parties are a fun and easy way to bring a whole neighborhood closer together. You can organize parties around holidays, such as Labor Day or Fourth of July, or you can organize a party around an event that is of interest to the whole neighborhood, such as a Super Bowl party, or just for the heck of it. It doesn’t take a lot to create a great block party. Food, drinks, music, and people is are all you need. Invite people personally to increase attendance, and knock on doors a few minutes before the party begins to remind everyone.

Lead a political action group
Most neighborhoods have at least one persistent problem. Maybe you have some potholes on your street that never seem to be filled in, or maybe the nearest bus stop is too far away for smaller children. Locate an issue of significance to you and your neighbors and find out how to access local city councilmen and other key decision makers. A small group of dedicated homeowners is generally taken much more seriously by local politicians than one resident with a complaint.

Greet new neighbors
The most basic expression of neighborly kindness is introducing yourself and your family to new neighbors. Bring a small gift and have the entire family sign the card. If your new neighbors have children similar in age to your own, encourage your children to introduce themselves to their new peers individually. Finally, if you have neglected to greet some new neighbors over the past months or even years, it’s never too late. A friendly introduction and a thoughtful gift is a great way to make a statement that you’re ready to be a better neighbor.

Invest in shared resources
There is a good chance that your neighbors are dreaming about some of the same luxuries you and your family want. Instead of waiting until you can both individually afford that new lawn mower, pool your resources to buy it together. Make sure you put your agreement in writing so there is no confusion. Consider who will have access to the mower when and for how long. Where will the mower be stored? Who is responsible for maintaining it? What happens if it is broken or lost, or if one of you moves out of area? Prepare for these contingencies ahead of time and shared resources can be a great way to grow your neighborhood friendships while improving your lifestyle.

Maintain public spaces on your own
If you wait for an official city worker to solve all of your problems, you might end up waiting a long time. Instead, take ownership and solve community problems on your own. You can refresh, refurbish, and clean up community areas (such as parks and schools) just as easily as a paid employee, and since it’s your neighborhood, you will probably do a better job too.

Give your wifi password to your neighbors
This suggestion is a bit controversial, since many homeowners worry that their networks will be compromised if left unprotected. However, if you have a good relationship with your neighbors and a decent understanding of network security, it is possible to allow neighbors on your network without much of a risk. The payoff is that they will have the ability to use your network when theirs’ is acting up. If you’re really clever, you can even enable file sharing over networks, so you can play your neighbor’s Bob Dylan bootlegs on your home stereo system.

Clean out your garage
Your neighbors may not have said anything to you, but that broken down car that you park in front of your house is driving them crazy. Take a weekend to clear out your garage, so you can park your vehicles inside. While you’re at it, move anything that might be considered clutter (kid’s toys, garbage cans, etc.) from the front of your home. You can place it in the garage or move it around to the back of the house, where it’s not visible to your neighbors.

Improve your home
When you improve your home, it has a positive effect on property values throughout the neighborhood. And you don’t need $50,000 to make a difference. An extra coat of paint or simply replanting one planter can make a substantial difference in your curb appeal. If you don’t know where to start, ask your neighbors what they would do. There’s a good chance, they have considered the answer long before you ask.

Trim back your trees and bushes
Do you have a 50-foot tree in front of your house that loses its leaves every Autumn? Chances are those leaves end up in your neighbors’ yard, leading to frustration and resentment. Be conscious of the effects your plants and trees are having on your neighbors. Cut anything back that enters your neighbors’ personal space or offer to clean up fallen leaves when you’re cleaning your own yard.

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