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The idea of a tight-knit neighborhood seems like an artifact of a simpler time in our country. And, in many ways, it is. Improvements in transportation and technology make it easier than ever to be connected with friends and family across the country and around the world.
However, there are still many good reasons to get to know your neighbors, aside from as a common courtesy. In this article, we’ll break down those reasons for you.
A watchful eye
If you plan on going for an extended vacation, it’s good to know at least one neighbor who you can trust to watch over your home while you’re away. That can include reporting any suspicious behavior and bringing in your mail so that it isn't obvious that your home is empty.
If you have kids, your neighbors are a good way to find out about any neighborhood news and safety concerns you should be aware of, which brings us to our next reason to get to know your neighbor.
Learning about the neighborhood
When you move into a new community, there often aren’t many ways to learn about the local events and places of interest. Introducing yourself to your new neighbors is a good way to learn about the place you moved to. It’s also a way to ask about any concerns you may have, such as traffic, noise level, or road safety if you have children who will be playing outside.
A helping hand
Like we mentioned before, it’s good to have trustworthy neighbors while you’re on vacation for home security reasons. However, it’s also a good opportunity to have neighborhood kids lend a hand while you’re away. You can pay them to mow your lawn, water the grass or flowers, and feed your pets. This makes your life easier and teaches them a lesson in work and reward.
Lending tools and services
It’s good to know a few neighbors with tools that you don’t have so that you can let one another borrow seldom-used tools rather than buying or renting them just for the occasional use.
Similarly, if you have an elderly neighbor, it’s a rewarding gesture to help them out when you see they need help with groceries, shoveling, or other physically demanding tasks. Those small gestures can also go a long way when it comes to gaining a friend in the neighborhood who you can count on for the local news.
No ill-will between good neighbors
Let’s face it, neighbors can be a source of annoyance at times. If it’s late on a school night and your neighbors are being noisy while you and your children are trying to sleep, you’ll have a lot better chance of getting them to quiet down if you have an established, friendly relationship.
Similarly, if you have a family cookout and need to park cars in front of their lawn, they’re more likely to not mind if you’ve helped them out in the past.
So, for these five reasons, and for many others, it pays to get to know your neighbors.
When buying a new house, you’re not just buying a roof to keep over your head. You’re buying a home to build your life in. To create a refuge from the outside world, to create memories within, and to grow your family in.
A home is a reflection of who you are, the things you fill your life with and your values. And this is true for the neighborhood your home resides in as well. Whether you are a young family or planning to start one in the near future choosing the perfect neighborhood for your lifestyle will bring you years of good memories to come.
The perfect place to start when choosing a neighborhood is by asking your agent! So many factors go into selecting a home and we know the importance of the various factors you need to consider for settling a young family. We can choose houses for showing that fit your unique family needs as it grows.
When scouting out local neighborhoods visit their community center and library. Both will be able to provide you with a list of local groups and activities that are available. You’ll most likely be able to find a local paper or newsletter here as well to get a feel the neighborhood’s culture and community involvement.
Most couples start by researching the schools in the neighborhoods on their list. Things to consider are budget and the available extracurricular activities that are available. It’s easy to focus on preschools and kindergartens when searching but remember to look at the middle and high schools as well.
Search for meetups for parent groups that meet regularly to have play dates. This is also a great way to find and meet locals to ask them questions about their experiences with the community. Reach out to the group organizer with a friendly message and they will be more than likely happy to answer and all of your questions.
Take a drive around the area to get a lay of the land. Are there nearby playgrounds and parks you could walk or take a short drive to? Visiting at different times of the day can give you an idea of the neighborhoods general routine. Are there lots of young children getting on the bus in the morning or teenagers riding their bikes around in the afternoons?
You’ll also want to carefully consider costs of homes in that neighborhood and if they fit your budget. If you’re planning a family you’ll want to have an idea of future costs while creating this budget so you don’t find yourself strapped between your mortgage and childcare.
Planning your family’s future is an exciting time and choosing the neighborhood you’ll raise your children in is pivotal. As your family grows over the years their needs will change too. The perfect neighborhood is the one that will have a positive environment for your child whether they’re 18 months or 17 years old.
Homes aren't the only things that are diverse in your neighborhood. True. There might be ranch houses, mother-in-law units, traditional four story bungalows and modern two story homes where you live. Even more diverse than the housing types are your neighbors. Differences in opinions and perception among you and your neighbors could create harsh living situations, the type of living situations that make you want to pack up and move.
Just as no two people in your family think alike, your neighbors don't always see things the way that you do. It doesn't take vocal neighbors, people who constantly complain about something that you or your family member did or said, to make you regret living where you do. Quiet neighbors who are expert at passive aggression could refuse to speak to you, even if you speak, smile and wave hello each time that you see them.
Signs Of A Bad Neighbor
As unpleasant as it sounds, these are not the worst neighbors. There are people whose neighbors have changed their lives in unwanted ways. Signs that you maybe next door to a bad neighbor include:
Loud noise maker - Neighbors who play music and televisions at high volumes act as if they have no regard for people living around them. Despite how closely they live to others, they think that they can do what they want, when they want, even if that means playing their favorite song at full blast at 2 o'clock in the morning.
Disregard for property values - Uncut grass, untrimmed hedges and chipped house paint on just one house on your street could put a dent in your property values.
City street drag racer - Racing cars is fun if it's done in the right forum. Racing cars down city streets is not only annoying, it's unsafe and illegal.
Neighborhood spy or stalker - Little is more annoying than a neighbor who peers through curtains every time someone leaves or enters their home. Worse is a neighbor who checks your mail without you asking.
Court case lover - Going to court may feel like going to a party to some neighbors.They'll press charges against you if park in front of their house or ask them to stop letting their dog poop in your yard.
Irresponsible pet owner - Neighbors who value their pets more than they do people may leave large, aggressive dogs loose. Worse, they might order their dogs to attack neighbors they don't like.
Constant borrower - Every time there's a knock at the door, it couldbe a neighbor asking to borrow a bowl, a cup of sugar, a few bucks or your lawnmower.
Turn A Bad Neighbor Into A Good Friend
Just because a relationship with a neighbor starts off on the wrong foot, that doesn't mean that the relationship can't be healed. Put in sincere effort and a bad neighbor could become a good friend. Steps to get along with neighbors follow:
- Introduce yourself to new neighbors - Stop by your neighbors' house a few days after you move in. Get off to a friendly start.
- Organize a block party and invite all neighbors to attend.
- Walk areas where a neighbor claims that your pet has pooped in her yard. Keep your dog on a leash to prevent the behavior (this can also keep a neighbor from accusing your dog of getting in her yard).
- Let your kids play with your neighbors children if both sets of kids are well behaved.
- Don't gossip about neighbors. Word gets around quicker than you might think.
- Avoid getting back at neighbors by engaging in the same annoying behaviors that they do.
- Stop lending appliances to neighbors, and don't feel guilty about it.
- Contact your home owners association if neighbors continue to engage in bad behaviors.
- Document exchanges made between you and your neighbors. Should the relationships not mend, you may end up taking neighbors to court.
Moving may seem to be the only answer when it comes to living peacefully with your neighbors. Yet, if you keep an open mind and are flexible, you can talk with your neighbors. You can find out why they do what they do. You can also learn how they developed their social skills. You'll also learn more about yourself and how you strengthen or challenge the relationships. This alone could also enrich relationships that you have with your family members.
Why start a community garden?The benefits for having a community garden in your neighborhood are endless. First, it allows people to grow their own food--a rewarding process in itself. You'll learn about sewing seeds, caring for plants, and harvesting the vegetables. When it's all said and done, you'll save money as well, since it's much cheaper to grow your vegetables than to buy them from the grocery store. Gardens are also a great way to build a sense of community in your neighborhood. You'll meet new people, make new friends, and have something to be proud of together. Plus, talking about what you're planting is a great ice-breaker when it comes to meeting the neighbors for the first time. Aside from helping you and your neighbors, community gardens are also a modest way to help the environment. A garden means more food for bees, a refuge for local critters, and more plants producing oxygen. Plus, when you get your vegetables right from your garden you cut back on all of the resources used to wrap, pack, and ship vegetables across the country to grocery stores, reducing your carbon footprint in a small way. Excited yet? I hope so! Now that you know why to start a community garden you need to know how.
Steps to making a community garden
- Get the neighborhood together Invite your neighbors to a local cafe or library to talk about starting a garden. To build interest and awareness, start a Facebook group and post a few flyers in your neighborhood.
- Figure out the funding and logistics At this meeting, start talking about how the garden is going to be funded. Seeds, tools, fertilizer, and other expenses don't have to put a damper on your fun if you're prepared. The three main sources of funding for a community garden are finding sponsors, running neighborhood fundraisers, or having a membership fee for plots in the garden.
- Find a spot for your garden The best places to turn into gardens are plots of land that currently bring down the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Find an area that could be cleaned up and approach the owner of the land with the idea. You can offer them free membership or whatever other resources are available in exchange for being able to use the land.
- Throw a cleaning and a kick-off party To build the garden, invite everyone from the neighborhood over to the plot of land for pizza. Then once they're there stick a shovel in their hand (okay, maybe let them eat a slice or two first). Once the garden is ready to be planted, you can host another "kick-off party" so everyone can celebrate their hard work.
- Rules are made to be spoken Community gardens are a ton of fun. But to keep them that way you're going to need to decide on some ground rules for things like open hours, membership acceptance, tool usage, leadership, and so on. Post the rules on the Facebook, website, and at the garden itself so everyone can see them.
- Keep the momentum If you want your garden to last you'll need to do some work to keep everyone excited. Make a Facebook group, a website or whatever else you think will help people stay connected. Ideally, you want your messages to include everyone involved in the garden so that everyone feels involved.