Neighbors can either become the best of friends or life long enemies. There are millions of stories of neighbors who have been at each other’s throats for years, possibly evening fighting or destroying each other’s property. I never understood why you would want to be at odds with the person who lives next door to you.
These days people are so busy that many of us don’t even get the opportunity to meet our neighbors. We pass each other in the morning, leaving for work and do the same coming home at night. A quick nod or a wave may be the extent of the relationship.
Becoming friends with your neighbors has many benefits, including being able to borrow just about anything in a pinch, but how do you build a relationship that will last?
Neighbors: 15 Ways to Become and Stay Friends
Get out of your house
You can’t possibly meet your neighbors or become friends with them if you never go outside. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Put the dog on a leash and bring him or her along with you. Dogs make for a great conversation starter when walking the neighborhood. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet some other neighbors who are out walking or working on their yard. Say hello and compliment their property or ask them a question. “How do you get your lawn so green”?
A friend in need is a friend, indeed! The old saying is very true. Help out a neighbor when they ask or even if they don’t ask for help offer some! Whether it’s landscaping, moving mulch, or shoveling snow off their driveway, any bit of help will strike up a conversation that is necessary to establish the relationship. It never hurts to ask if someone needs help.
A block party is a perfect way to get all the neighbors together to socialize and help build community and friendships. Before you start closing roads, check with your city or town to see if there are any rules about having block parties. Try to have each house responsible for cooking a particular item or providing drinks. If there are smaller children in the neighborhood, you might consider renting a bouncy house that they would enjoy.
Game night/Weekly get together
Once you’ve found your core group of neighbors, it’s vital to get together regularly to build upon your friendship. Organize a weekly game night or cocktail party at each other’s houses. In my neighborhood, during the summer, we all gather in my backyard at my Tiki Bar. Everyone brings a snack or dessert, and we typically supply the beverages. It’s not an all-night affair, though some nights are longer than others. It’s more of a chance for us all to get together, talk about everyone’s week and laugh a bit. In the winter, we find more creative ways to get together like Sunday Football or a weekly TV Show viewing. We binge-watched several shows over the last few years on Sunday night…”Winter is Coming”. The important part is to make time to see each other.
Bring them food
The cliche move is to bring new neighbors a cake, but why not do this for neighbors you know too. Growing up, our neighbor Tom used to bring us extra vegetables he had from his garden. In the winter, he’d bring my dad a Kaluha and Milk when dad was outside shoveling the driveway. If you’re making lasagna, make an extra one for your favorite neighbors and bring it over. This works well when you know the neighbors are busy or if someone in the house is sick.
Set up playdates
Children have a way of bringing adults together. We’ve met many of the friends we have today because of our children. We’ve also been lucky that we’ve liked both of the parents and all our children get along with each other. I know many people who get “stuck” having to socialize with a parent they don’t care for because their kids are such good friends.
Arrange playdates for your children when they are younger, and as a bonus, you get some time with an adult. This provides a good chance for adult conversation while the children play and burn off some energy.
Neighborhood social media groups
Just about every neighborhood today has some sort of social media group specific to the school district or the area you live in. Most times, they are a breeding ground for complaining, but other times, you can find something new to do in your area and potentially meet some new neighbors and friends. A craft fair at the church or movie night at the local park all make for fun times with your community.
Facebook is my go-to spot for any local social media groups. Do your research, and you’re bound to find one.
Be respectful with your pets
I take great pride in making sure that my lawn is in good condition. Nothing makes me angrier than witnessing a neighbor walking their dog and using my yard as their bathroom. Worse is when they don’t pick up after their dog. I have four dogs of my own and believe me, I am on constant “poop patrol” in my backyard picking up any presents they leave behind. I don’t need to clean my front lawn as well.
When you’re out taking your pet for a walk, take the time to clean up after them. Bring waste bags with you and do the right thing. Be a good neighbor. It will go a long way toward making friends.
Deal with problems in person
If you have a dispute with one of your neighbors, deal with them in person. Don’t leave phone or text messages but instead speak directly to them. This should be the golden rule for all areas of life. Text and email messages never convey what you are trying to say correctly and will almost always come across the opposite of how you intended it.
Speak calmly and state your point and let your neighbor respond. Most neighborhood conflicts can be resolved with a simple conversation.
Keep up your house
We all have that one house in our neighborhood that is a bit sketchy. In my area, we have one guy who drives around picking up whatever you put at the curb. He has a thrift shop where he resells much of what the neighborhood throws out. His house, however, reflects that he is in the salvage business. It is an eye-sore.
Take care of your property, and your neighbors will thank you. Keep your lawn and bushes manicured and pick up your leaves in the fall. I know it’s tempting to wait for them to blow on someone else’s lawn but pick them up. A more beautiful looking neighborhood attracts a better level of neighbor and also helps with resale prices should you ever want to sell your home.
Don’t be loud (all the time)
Many towns have sound ordinances, so make sure you know what they are when you plan on having a party or doing work on your home. In our neighborhood, music needs to be off by 11:00 or at least not blaring loud. As for working on your house or in the yard, do the same and check before firing up the chainsaw at 7:00 am on a Sunday.
Nothing will annoy neighbors more than interrupting their sleep.
Try throwing an annual or semi-annual garage. You can either have one yourself or have one as a community. Make sure you put up signs and price all your items to sell. Combining multiple garage sales is a fun way to get your neighbors together while making some extra money. Maybe you can pool all the money together for a future block party or go out as a group for a night of fun.
Park where you should
Parking in a neighborhood is like storing your overhead bag on an airplane. No one likes it when a person on a plane takes the overhead bin space above a seat that is not their own and then heads to the back of the plane to sit down. The same goes for parking. Don’t park in front of your neighbors’ house if you have room in front of yours. For some reason in my neighborhood everyone parks in the street instead of their driveway, which can present problems when you have a party.
Organize a community project
Is there a park in your neighborhood or area that needs cleaning up? Maybe an upcoming walk for a cause? These are both great ways to meet your neighbors and have everyone get together. Not only are you doing good for the community, but you’re also helping solidify and build friendships.
This statement should go without saying but be nice to people around you. Not only your neighbors but in general. People will not want to become your friends or stay your friends if you aren’t a nice person. Say hello and goodbye, shake hands and be interested when they are speaking to you. Common courtesy goes a long way with friendship.
I hope everyone reading this makes a conscious effort to strike up relationships with their neighbors. You may find some of your best, and most loyal friends live right next door to you if you give them a chance.
What have you found to be the most effective way to build strong relationships with your neighbors? Let me know in the comment section below.