How to Be a Good Neighbor

Six tips for ensuring you don't spark a Hatfield & McCoys relationship in your hood – and maybe even make some friends.

There are so many things to consider when shopping for a home. Sizable kitchen? Check. Large yard? Check. Awesome neighbors? It’s one of the things that is often overlooked by house-hunters. However, once the mortgage is signed, it’s for better or worse, till the “For Sale Sign” you part.

In my neighborhood, everyone is very friendly and many have children of the same age as my own. The kids play together while the adults gather to chat, play cards or have a bonfire. We also take a camping trip each summer with several of our neighbors. However, we recognize that we are very lucky.

Others live in situations similar to the Hatfields & McCoys. They argue over pets, squabble over noise and avoid talking to each other at all costs.

Not all neighbors are going to be best friends, but there are certain qualities that make it easier to put up with the person on the other side of the fence. Here are some tips for being a good neighbor:

1. Keep an eye on each other’s homes

“A good neighbor is someone that you can trust. Good neighbors watch out for each other when it comes to their children, pets or house,” says Lisa Kurtz of Harrison Township.

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Mom Elizabeth Smith says her neighbors notice when things aren’t right and will call to check in.

“We forgot to close our garage one day and my neighbor texted me to let me know. We trusted her and gave her our garage door code and she closed it for us. She knew it was out of the ordinary and helped us out,” says Smith.

Another example: Grosse Pointe resident Sue Vallone says her husband fell asleep after putting frozen chicken breast on the barbecue. The neighbor knocked on the door and woke up Vallone’s husband before the situation went from bad to worse.

2. Keep up your property

One of the biggest neighbor pet peeves is the house that doesn’t keep up on their property. Whether that’s a lawn that’s overgrown or ridden with weeds or peeling paint or a cracked driveway, you can’t earn the label “good neighbor” if you’re not doing your part to keep up the ‘hood.

3. Care for each other’s kids or pets in a pinch

Mount Clemens mom Lisetta Berger never expected to have to rush to the hospital in the middle of the night to tend to a family situation, but when she did, she was thankful for her neighbors who were just a few steps away. She trusted them to care for her daughter, and quickly, when she couldn’t wait for a babysitter.

The same is true in Lynn Erb’s neighborhood in Harrison Township.

“We watch over children, homes, pets and one another. We open our homes and lives to one another,” Erb says. “We become family.”

4. Don’t disturb the peace

That means that in addition to not blasting music or blasting your car horn for the umpteenth time to get your kids to hustle out the door, you also need to respect the speed limit in your hood.

5. Take in those without local family

Harrison Township mom Amy Harwedel’s family is from Ohio. Without family nearby, she was grateful for neighbors who made them feel like part of family.

“Our neighbors include us in their family and family events. We celebrate holidays together when we can’t make it to our Ohio home,” Harwedel says. She added that even when they do have plans to head out of state for Christmas, the neighbors get together on a different day to mark the holiday.

6. Be a good communicator

If you’re having a big party and there will be cars parked up and down the street and a bit more noise than usual, let your neighbors know. If you’re doing some construction at your house and they’ll be banging around at your abode, let your neighbors know. If your neighbor’s tree limbs are encroaching on your property, don’t just start trimming, ask your neighbor if it’s OK. Oh, and if your tree is encroaching on your neighbor’s property, trim them before they have to ask.

Living in close proximity to someone makes it easy to share more than a cup of sugar. With respect and some of the traits above, neighbors can even become good friends.

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